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|Al-Qaeda Changes Tactics;“We Denounce Targeting the Oil Industry whatever the excuse may be,” Al-Qaeda Leader Says|
Moneer Al-Omari (YEMEN POST)
Article Date: September 08, 2008
Though Yemen was facing unprecedented security threats on several fronts, the threats are now confined to Al-Qaeda after the rebellious Houthi insurgents in northern Sa'ada province were quelled.
Al-Qaeda is following new tactics to face the tightened security measures by Yemeni authorities imposed around foreign embassies and interests in the capital. Among the most favored targets of Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen are tourists and oil industry in the country according to security officials.
An Al-Qaeda leader who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitiveness of the situation said that Al-Qaeda Organization now adopts the clustered build-up instead of the pyramidal hierarchy, admitting that there is independence at the level of implementation, planning and financial resources, especially after September 11 attacks that led United States and other countries to launch a wide-range war against the organization in what it calls the "War on Terror".
Further, decentralizing these aspects helps Al-Qaeda followers in the field and makes their movement easier; however, all abide by the organization general outlines and policies. Large strategic plans and goals are set by the leadership centered in Afghanistan, according to him.
In matters of coordination among the organization cells in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, he stressed that there exist only little coordination; however, when some operations in one country could lift the pressure from their Al-Qaeda followers in the other country, than coordination is very possible in those cases.
Though targeting oil and other facilities has been made in retaliation to the injustice and arbitrary arrests towards Al-Qaeda followers, he declared that it is illegal. He claims to be against it and says, "Oil is our wealth and property. It is not the property of a president, a king or a minister. Though it is consumed by our enemies, they will depart one day and it will return to us." "I denounce targeting oil industry whatever the excuse may be."
Al-Qaeda higher leadership always calls on their followers to move away from 'desert areas', as defined by him, stressing any attack that does not distress the enemy is not practical.
At the meantime, Al-Qaeda affiliate revealed that there is no deal between Al-Qaeda wing in Yemen and President Saleh. "There are just overarching national interests between Saleh and us. We have good feelings towards the homeland."
When asked about the different names branching from Al-Qaeda wing in Yemen, he mentioned that this is a technique by Al-Qaeda affiliates and they resort to it to safeguard their lives and to stand against conflicts.
As a way out, he suggested that security apparatuses and authorities initiate serious dialogue with Al-Qaeda through intellectual scholars who respect and primarily recognize Al-Qaeda and believe in its thinking. He also asked regimes not to put extra pressure on those Al-Qaeda youth who are imprisoned, demanding authorities as well to work for integrating Guantanamo returnees and others into society.
Al-Qaeda attacks: history
The earliest Al-Qaeda attacks in Yemen date back to 2000 when a group of Al-Qaeda loyalists attacked the USS Cole off Aden's coasts. The attack resulted in killing dozens of American marines.
A similar attack took place two years later and it targeted the French oil tanker Limburg off Hadramout's coasts. The second Al-Qaeda operation badly affected the environment. Both attacks harmed the country's reputation.
Other attacks targeted the American Embassy and Customs House in Sana'a, tourists conveys in Mareb and Hadramout, oil facilities in Mareb as well as Aden Refinery pipelines.
Just two days ahead of the presidential and local elections conducted on September 20, 2006, simultaneous attacks were launched on Mareb's Safer and Hadramout's Al-Dhabah oil facilities; however, they were foiled by security authorities.
Early in 2008, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for two attacks with mortar shells on the US Embassy and a housing compound accommodating foreigners and oil experts in the capital Sana’a.
Dozens of Al-Qaeda militants are serving jail terms for attacks on Western and governmental interests. On different website postings, Al-Qaeda threatened to make Yemen like Iraq if Yemeni authorities did not release its followers and stopped hunting them down. The threats came following a foiled rocket attack that targeted oil facilities in June 2008.
Even when Yemeni authorities managed to kill several top Al-Qaeda leaders including Abu Hamza Al-Qua'aiti, elements like Qasem Al-Raimi and Naser Al-Wahishi – who are still at large, pose high risks on the country, according to observers.
Last June, security authorities managed to arrest the “most wanted” Al-Qaeda member Haithem bin Saad in Hadramout.
Towards the end of July, a suicide attack on Sayoun's security compound killed eight people and injured a dozen others. The same police compound was targeted last April during the early morning hours. However, the attack left no causalities.Shortly after Sayuon's attack, Vice-President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi announced that over the last two years Yemeni authorities have deployed thousands of foreigners who were studying in Yemen, especially when most of them had links with Islamic extremist groups.