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Yemen Continues ‘War on Terror’; Needs more International Understanding and Support

  Written By: Abdul Rahim AL-Showthabi (YEMEN POST)
  Article Date:
August 11, 2008



More than five years ago, Yemen launched a program to face and fight terrorism, hoping to uproot it from the country. This program included military cooperation with U.S. agencies and the international community. Furthermore, it resulted in the capture and prosecution of several suspected terrorists who were involved in the bombing of the USS Cole and other terrorist attacks in Yemen.

Even through all this, The United States still seems unpleased with Yemen’s efforts in fighting terrorism.

A report issued by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point wronged America's current policy towards Yemen, pointing out that America bears on the responsibility of the disturbance in the cooperative relations between the two countries.

Furthermore, the report pointed out that the American administration did not value the big challenges that Yemen faces, especially the Sad'a's crisis, which has been ongoing for the past five years.

Yemeni American relations witnessed great setbacks over the last year, especially when Yemen refused to give in Jamal Badawi and Jabr Al-Bana, two wanted terrorists according to American authorities.

Last month, Sana'a received a large number of American officials, including the executive representative of Foreign State, Lincoln Brimfield. The delegation along with President Saleh discussed the cooperative issues between the two nations. In addition, representatives from the American Congress and Yemeni officials discussed the inactive relations between the two countries, and on ways to enhance the relations.

Yemeni officials assured Yemen’s willingness to cooperate with neighboring countries in combating terrorism, hinting that the Yemeni government has even closed markets for selling weapons, and seized all the weapons that were in those markets.

In order to justify its role in combating terrorism, Yemeni government verified its manner of fighting terrorism, including the methods that could be taken when talking to terrorist suspects. Comparing to other countries, Yemen worked differently and uses talking and understanding when dealing with terrorist suspects. This is seen as a lenient stance by some countries in dealing with terrorists.  Yemen has focused on specific strategies to combat terrorism. The four major ways it has used have been referring terrorist to specialized courts, trying to persuade Al-Qaeda's members to go back to the right way, fighting terrorist members directly, and combating terrorism from its sources.

Modern terrorism in Yemen goes back to more than a decade ago. In January 16, 1997, a car bomb exploded in Aden, and investigations revealed that a terrorist group was behind the attacks. The group also received help from a Spanish national Nabeel Nanaki. It was reported that this group was aiming to kill Yemeni officials and foreigner visitors.

Over the years, Yemen has seen great progress in tracking and apprehending large numbers of Al-Qaeda leaders on Yemeni land, especially in and killing of Abu Ali Al-Harithi, who was considered Al-Qaeda number one man in Yemen, and among the most wanted by the United States. 

Also, In June 25, 2008, Yemeni authorities arrested Haitham Sad and four of his companions on terrorism charges. This arrest came a short while after the authority arrested an Al-Qaeda member of Asian nationality in Yemen.

Other terrorism combating incidents by the Yemeni government includes the court hearing that took place earlier this year when the Panel Court sentenced 50 locals with terrorism charges and planning to kill foreigners in the country. Two people among them were sentenced to death.

In November 12, 2007, the specialized Penal court sentenced Yahya Saleh Al-Amari to 5 years in prison. Al-Ammari was accused of attacking the United States' Embassy in Sana'a.

The Yemeni government has been desperately trying to develop its security forces for combating terrorism. Yemen established new specialized units for fighting terrorists, and specialized units of female soldiers were established for the same purpose.

"Yemen is considered one of the first countries that were affected by terrorist's and this started over a decade ago" said parliament member and political analyst Sakhr Al-Wajeeh. "Yemen joined the International Group for Combating Terrorism; however, it hasn't received enough support, especially in the area of developing units for combating terrorism" he added.

Political analysts assured that Yemen’s fight against Al-Qaeda can't accepts failure in any case; if it happens, it would be a setback for the international community against terrorism. 

President's Saleh declared to the New York Times last month that Yemen has been strongly fighting Al-Qaeda's members. In addition, Saleh described terrorism as a dangerous plague that would hurt everything in the long run.

A lot of other countries, including Yemen, have suffered through terrorist's attacks in recent decades, causing the loss of many lives and destruction to those countries.

Yemen has repeatedly suffered from terrorist's acts, especially by misguided elements that hold extremist concepts of Islam.

The government worn out all means to persuade the outlawed terrorists to give up their terrorist's acts, however, they refused and continued. Furthermore, this promoted the government to start combating them before they become a direct threat to innocent visitors and lives of the Yemeni citizens as well.

America witnessed the biggest terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 when 19 Arabs hijacked 4 U.S commercial airplanes and turned them into missiles, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center in New York, one into the Pentagon in Washington D.C, and one into a Field in Pennsylvania.