Yemen: Hard Times For The Hard Core

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October 6, 2010: The government admitted that U.S. air strikes had been used against terrorist targets in Yemen, and that these attacks had ended last December. But there were apparently four more such attacks since then, all of them denied by the U.S. and Yemen. Non-Moslem military forces making attacks in Arabia (Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Gulf States) is considered offensive to Moslems. In other words, it's easy for Islamic terrorists to get positive press if they are bombed in Arabia by Western forces. That's just the way it works in this part of the world. But Yemen also said it was determined to crush the Islamic terrorists in its midst, and would allow more American air strikes in the future if it was needed. Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that the Yemeni responsible for the 2000 suicide boat attacks on the USS Cole, Fahd Mohammad Ahmed al Quso, was killed in Pakistan on September 8th by an American missile. Quso had a five million dollar reward on his head, dead or alive. Quso was a Yemeni, and like many Yemeni Islamic terrorists, had fled the country because of the growing anti-terrorism effort in Yemen over the last decade. Many, about half,  of the Islamic terrorists currently in Yemen are Saudis who had fled their own country after recent government crackdowns.

The government caught a break as leaders of the southern secessionist movement failed to settle their differences in the last week. Tribal and personal rivalries increased as the southern separatists met several times to try and organize a united organization. But loud arguments and fist fights resulted. The government has been talking to the secessionist minded tribal leaders, discussing how much of the foreign aid money will be handed out for good behavior. This "divide and conquer" tactic is popular in Yemen, and everyone knows it.

The violence continues in the north and south, but at a low level. At least once a day there is a shooting in the north, or south, or both on some days. So many people have guns, are young and into their cause (tribal autonomy, for the most part, in north and south), that it doesn't take much for an anti-government fighter to just open fire on nearby soldiers and police. Whichever side has the smaller number of weapons will usually flee, and that will be the end of the incident. But the government has more, and larger, weapons, so the tribal combat power tends to be more annoying than threatening.

The most feared attacks are the assassinations (of government officials, especially judges, and pro-government tribal leaders) and efforts to free prisoners or destroy government buildings. Many of these attacks are detected in the planning stage, and arrests quietly made. Most of the al Qaeda operatives are amateurs, and tend to be lax when it comes to security (like keeping your mouth shut.)

October 2, 2010: Police arrested five suspected al Qaeda members in the capital, as the suspects followed a police vehicle carrying prisoners. At the same time, the government pledged to mass 30,000 security troops next month to guard a football (soccer) tournament in Aden (Nov. 22- Dec. 6). Teams from seven other Arab countries will attend, and al Qaeda has promised to kill as many players and spectators as it can. This sort of talk has cut tourism over 80 percent in the last decade. Normally, tourism comprises three percent of GDP, but nearly all of it has disappeared in the last two years because of terrorist attacks and threats. The government plans to use the football tournament to prove it has the situation under control. Thus there will be two competitions going on at the same time. Meanwhile, eight men were arrested in Aden for planning attacks on visitors to the upcoming football tournament.

September 30, 2010:  The government sent more troops to southern Shabwa province after al Qaeda failed to kill a government official in an ambush. Recent raids in Shabwa have turned up many documents, and talkative prisoners, that identify local terrorists, and their current plots. This has been very disruptive for al Qaeda, which now finds them being pursued individually, and months of planning for attacks now useless. Some documents also revealed where al Qaeda safe houses and weapons caches were. These are being raided, putting many al Qaeda on the road, or living rough up in the hills.

 

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