Al-Ahram Weekly Online   25 October - 31 November 2012
Issue No. 1120
Region
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Al-Qaeda vs US drones

AQAP keeps up the suicide attacks as the US continues to fight them with the weapon du jour, says Nasser Arrabyee

Click to view caption
Smoke rises after explosions were set off at the army's First Armoured Division headquarters in the Yemeni capital Sanaa

On Sunday morning, a total of 16 dead bodies wrapped in Yemeni flag shrouds were put in coffins and carried on the shoulders of soldiers to their final resting place in the Martyrs Cemetery of Sanaa. All of them were killed two days earlier when eight suicide bombers of Al-Qaeda stormed their base in the coastal town of Shuqrah in the southern province of Abyan.

Al-Qaeda seems to be trying to restore the southern provinces, like Shabwah and Abyan, where it ruled for about one year before it was driven out by Yemeni forces last June. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the suicide attack Friday that killed and injured more than 30 soldiers of the military base of Shuqrah.

In a short statement sent as an SMS to cell phones of some journalists late Friday, a group calling themselves Ansar Al-Sharia said the attack on brigade 115 was in retaliation for the killing of the leader Nader Al-Shaddadi and eight others of his companions. Al-Shaddadi and his eight companions were killed one day earlier by a US drone in Jaar of the same province of Abyan.

Despite the continuous American campaign of drones, and American official demands to expand the drone fleet for more attacks on Yemen, Al-Qaeda seems determined to spread the chaos in the south so that they can rule. The last drone attack was on Sunday, killing four Al-Qaeda operatives including leading member Kayed Al-Dhahab in Abydah valley in the eastern province of Mareb.

Drone attacks are not always accurate. The second man in command Said Al-Shihri, a Saudi national, appeared in a video published in Al-Qaeda websites Monday after the Yemeni government declared he was killed in a special operation 10 September.

According to officials, AQAP is dreaming to rule at least the south of Yemen. The mediators between Al-Qaeda and the government say that Al-Qaeda wants to rule the south to show the difference between them and the socialists who ruled for 25 years and failed. Officials said that Al-Qaeda had asked many times through mediators or by sending letters to officials to be given the chance to rule the south of Yemen for 15 years.

Minister of Defence Mohamed Nasser Ahmed said he had received a letter from AQAP saying this when he was talking to military and security officials in presence of the governor of Aden, Wahid Ali Rashed, last week in the southern coastal city of Aden. The Minister also said he had received a number of phone calls from Al-Qaeda operatives, and the last one said, "You are most welcome to Aden".

Mohamed Aidarous Al-Jafri, leader of the anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees in Lawdar was killed when his car turned over just after he finished a meeting with the minister of defence, Mohamed Nasser Ahmed, in Aden last week. Sources close to Al-Qaeda said that Mohamed Aidarous was killed by an Al-Qaeda conspiracy and not by a car accident. The sources said Al-Qaeda was not defeated but changed their tactics. "Al-Qaeda killed the top commander of the southern region, and leaders of popular committees, and a number of intelligence officers after it withdrew from Abyan, and now I wonder how some people say Al-Qaeda was defeated," said the source.

In the north Al-Qaeda is no less active. Sleeper cells are almost everywhere. For instance, 12 Al-Qaeda operatives were arrested when security forces stormed a house near the main office of Yemeni intelligence in the capital Sanaa, said security sources this week. Some of those arrested were Syrians, the sources said. The group was planning to attack the intelligence headquarters with the aim of releasing prisoners.

In a separate incident, at least four people were killed and five others injured when a suicide bomber drove his car to a check point of anti-Al-Qaeda tribesmen known as popular committees in the southern town of Mudyah.

Local sources said that gunmen from Al-Qaeda first attacked the check point of Al-Kafalah, east of Mudyah, and when tribesmen assembled to retaliate, a car bomb came and exploded killing and injuring at least 10 people. The sources mentioned the names of four killed and five injured.

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