Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Drones vs motorcycles

Al-Qaeda in Yemen has put a bounty on the heads of American diplomats and soldiers after many of its leaders and operatives were killed by increasing drone attacks, notes Nasser Arrabyee

Al-Ahram Weekly

In an unprecedented and strange step, Al-Qaeda promised to give three kilogrammes of gold as bounty for killing US Ambassador in Yemen Gerald Feierstien, and $23,000 for killing any of the American marine soldiers who came last September to protect the embassy.

Announcement of such bounties was a sign that Al-Qaeda has become weaker, but at the same time it wanted to exploit the anger caused by the increasing drone attacks, especially the mistakes that sometimes happen when innocent civilian are killed by drones.

Last week, seven Al-Qaeda operatives including two middle level leaders were killed in two different US drone attacks in the far eastern province of Hudrmout in Al-Sheher area. Five operatives were killed while driving a car and two were killed while riding a motor cycle. Two days later, US drones killed three Al-Qaeda operatives including one middle level leader while driving in Al-Masaneh area, an Al-Qaeda stronghold in Radaa of the southeastern province of Al-Baidha.

In quick retaliation, the intelligence officer Mutea Bakutayan was killed by an Al-Qaeda gunman riding a motorcycle in the city of Mukalla, the capital of the eastern province of Hudrmout. Two military high-ranking officials, including one of the commanders of Hudrmout military region, were assassinated in different places in the capital Sanaa almost at the same time by gunmen riding motorcycles using pistols provided with silencers.

Brigadier Fadl Al-Radfani, commander of Thumoud area in Hudrmout, where Al-Qaeda is active, was killed only a few metres away from the gate of the Ministry of Defence in Sanaa. Colonel Samir Al-Ghorbani, a member of the security committee, was killed about one hour later in an area not far from the biggest military camp on the southern outskirts of the capital Sanaa.

The government seems unable to solve the problem of insecurity not only in the remote areas but also in the capital itself. On Monday, four explosive belts were seen in the early morning by normal people in the street of Abu Dhabi, close to Ans market in the capital Sanaa. The security officials said first it was one explosive belt, then they told local media it was not one but four explosive belts. Then they denied knowing what they were. Finally the website of the Ministry of Defence said the belts were only fake belts, filled with soil not explosives.

This confusion of the security authorities increased the doubts about an assassination attempt which took place a few hours ago in the same area and the same street where these belts were found. A tribal leader from Radaa, Al-Baidha province survived an assassination attempt when Al-Qaeda suspect threw a hand grenade at his car. Last month security forces defused several explosive bags in the same place and arrested three people from Al-Baidha, where US drone have hit many times.

The last US drone attack was last week when three Al-Qaeda operatives were killed in Al-Masaneh, Al-Qaeda’s stronghold in Radaa. When drones hit targets with accuracy, Al-Qaeda suspect that local tribal leaders cooperate with Americans by giving intelligence information about them.

Political assassinations among military and security officials have increased over the last few months as Yemen tries to finish the transitional period that is supposed to end in February 2014. About 70 intelligence senior officers, and 60 military senior commanders were killed over the last two years in well-planned assassination operations.

Because of the spread of insecurity and the weakness of the government on borders, a lot of weapons are smuggled into Yemen. At least three smuggled shipments of Turkish-made weapons were discovered this year in ports like Aden, Hodeidah, and Mukalla. A Yemeni NGO for combating violence and terrorism accused the Turkish government of killing Yemenis with Turkish guns provided with silencers.

The National Organisation for Combating Violence and Terrorism, Kefah, said last week that the Turkish government should be held fully responsible for all political assassinations of security and military officials. The most recent case involved a cache of Turkish pistols in Hais district of the western province of Hodeidah.

President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi promoted the soldiers of the checkpoint who discovered the shipment last week to second lieutenants and gave each one of them one million Yemeni rials ($5,000). Kefah said the Turkish government must reveal who imported the weapons, and must ensure this stops.

If not, the organisation warned in a statement sent to local media that they would file a lawsuit before the International Criminal Court against the Turkish government and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kefah said that it has copies of the investigations over the shipments of Turkish weapons.

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