Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Possible Al Nashiri facilitator mediates compensation for civilian drone victims in Yemen

Filed under: Air strike, USS Cole, al nashiri, al-Bayda — by Jane Novak at 1:13 pm on Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Title 2: Why I can’t blog too much anymore

Al Masdar reports Yemen’s former Interior Minister, Hussain Arab, is one of the dignitaries who negotiated on behalf of the Yemeni government with civilian victims and their families following US drone strikes over the week-end. The agreement reached is for 30 Kalashnikovs and 12M Yemeni riyals, about USD 55K, which was paid on Monday 4/21. The strikes targeted one vehicle containing known al Qaeda, killing ten, as well as a workmen’s car that unexpectedly appeared.

“Regrettably, three civilians were also killed during the attack and five were injured when their pickup truck unexpectedly appeared[18][19] next to the targeted vehicle,” the (Yemeni government) statement said. Quote via Just Security.

At least the Yemeni government didn’t try to smear the victims as al Qaeda, like they did in Hadramout,. Quickly taking responsibility, expressing regret and paying compensation is a step in the right direction.

At the time of the USS Cole bombing, Hussain Arab was Yemen’s Interior Minister. He resigned in April 2001. Defense evidence introduced in Yemeni court in the 2004 Cole trial included “ a letter to al-Qaeda commander Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri instructing Yemeni authorities to give safe passage to al-Nashiri and three bodyguards without being searched or intercepted. The letter states that, ‘All security forces are instructed to cooperate with him and facilitate his mission.’ ” His mission was a terror attack on a US warship.

Mr. Arab has held other official positions since his resignation including recently on the consensus committee of the National Dialog Committee.

The trial of Al Nashiri aka Billal, al Harazi etc., is proceeding in court in Guantanamo Bay today where lawyers are arguing whether two witnesses can be interviewed by the defense in France without submitting the questions first to the prosecution.

The original Arabic article from al Masdar is below the fold.

Related: Sami Dayan (Dhayan) was convicted of the murder of the effective General Qatan in Abyan. General Qatan had recently given interviews noting a state faction’s complicity in arming and facilitating al Qaeda. Sami is the reason I had to make up a category called State Jihaddists in 2009. He was overtly working for Ali Mohsen in Jaar at that time. I think Abdulkarim al Nabi gave in interview that discussed Sami Dayan as well as his own situation. Both could be termed local jihaddists and occasional mercenaries, but they are not the al Qaeda of Wahishi and certainly not AQAP leaders. Dayan was sentenced to 15 years, and will probably be released in two, if he doesn’t escape first.

(Read on …)

Washington’s retrograde policy in Yemen

Filed under: USA — by Jane Novak at 8:52 am on Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sheila Carapico at Muftah on Yemen is just too awesome to abridge:

Update: another must must read is also at Muftah Hadhramaut : Rebellion, Federalism or Independence in Yemen? So good it may get a permalink.

Carapicio: Of Transitology and Counter-Terror Targeting in Yemen

Far from the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, tucked at the underside of the Arabian Peninsula where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean, Yemen is at the periphery of Middle East studies and beyond the attention span of mainstream American media. It is a counter-terror target.

It is as if this country of some 25 million citizens is not a real place, as much as it is an outer space or a basket case. According to various journalistic tropes, Yemen is a ‘terrorist haven,’ the ‘ancestral homeland of Usama Bin Ladin,’ an untamed frontier where presumably the only choice for the United States is to shoot first and ask questions later. (Read on …)

Fostering and countering terrorism in Yemen

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, Military, USA — by Jane Novak at 7:48 am on Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The US CT industry in Yemen is sketched out in the following excerpts from Inside Yemen’s Shadow War Asenal at Foreign Policy BY GORDON LUBOLD, NOAH SHACHTMAN

Since November of 2011, the United States has pledged nearly $600 million to Yemen for everything from spy drones to opinion polls to pickup trucks as part of a shadow war to fight terrorism there. But how much Washington is getting for its money is an open question, even within U.S. government circles…

Only a portion of the $600 million committed since late 2011 goes directly to fight terrorism — about $250 million, according to State Department officials. The rest goes towards “helping to strengthen governance and institutions on which Yemen’s long-term progress depends,” as then-White House counterterrorism czar (and unofficial envoy to Yemen) John Brennan explained last year. That includes cash to “empower women,” “combat corruption,” and provide “food vouchers, safe drinking water, and basic health services,” Brennan added.

But even that non-military aid can sometimes come with a hard edge. Last year, the State Department paid out $2.2 million to Griffin Security, a Yemeni contractor specializing in “close protection,” “surveillance systems,” and “maritime security services,” according to the company’s website. On June 26, Foggy Bottom sent another $3.1 million to Advanced C4 Solutions, a Tampa-based business with strong military and intelligence community ties, for an unspecified “administrative management” contract. Six days later, the State Department executed a second, $1.3 million deal with the same firm — which publicly declares itself a specialist in computer network attacks — for “translation and interpretation services.”

(JN-The US Air Force suspended Advanced C4 in 2011 for shoddy and unfinished work, and the firm was nearly excluded from any more work for the US gov’t.)

Overt security assistance was put on hold for about a year when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh brutally cracked down on his people. But that ban has been lifted, and the spigot is once again open. The Pentagon is outfitting the Yemenis with weapons, short takeoff and landing spy planes, night vision goggles, and even Raven drones to help Yemeni security forces to strengthen their effectiveness against internal threats and extremist activity, according to defense officials…

“We need to remember that we have done at least as badly in planning and managing aid as the worst recipient country has done in using it,” said Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Nonetheless, a variety of programs aim to directly achieve American security objectives in Yemen. During 2012, for instance, the Pentagon spent about $14 million on a single U.S. Special Operations Forces counterterrorism enhancement program in which a limited number of American military personnel provided training and equipment — from small arms and ammo to radios to rigid hull inflatable boats to night vision goggles to navigational systems — to Yemen’s counterterrorists. Another program, referred to in Pentagon briefing papers as the “Fixed-Wing Capability Program,” spends about $23 million “by providing equipment and training to improve the operational reach and reaction time of Yemen’s CT forces,” including two short take-off and landing aircraft. The United States spends another $75 million on building the counterterrorism unit of Yemen’s Central Security Forces.

During 2013, the Pentagon spent nearly $50 million on what’s called an “integrated border and maritime security” program to help the Yemenis be more effective with aerial surveillance and ground mobility, according to a defense official. That helped the Yemenis build up the capacity to monitor threats along the country’s nearly 1,200 mile coastline. The program includes 12 short take-off and landing aircraft, each with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as flight and maintenance crews.

The United States has spent other money on Yemen, including $24 million the Coast Guard spent to build two 87-foot coastal patrol boats, and another $11 million for about 340 F-350 Ford pickup trucks, according to publicly-available contracting data. Another $27 million was spent for a contract with Bell Helicopter for four Huey II helicopters within the last three years.

Two years ago, the polling firm Gallup, Inc. was paid more than $280,000 for a “Yemen Assessment Survey.” Around the same time, Yemen was part of a major contract to provide crew-served weapons, gun mounts, and stands for .50 caliber weapons. Last year, the Army paid $3 million to Harris Corporation for radios for the Yemenis, and the Navy paid $5.4 million for aircraft engines and spare parts for CASA 235 transport planes. Also last year, the Army paid $1.9 million for tactical UAVs in both Kenya and in Yemen.

Ties into my 2012 article State Dep’t ends Yemen arms embargo

First US airstrike in Saada, Yemen at Wadi Abu Jubarah

Filed under: Air strike, Saudi Arabia, USA, abu jubarah, obits, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 11:53 am on Sunday, October 28, 2012

The 2011 AQAP eulogy of Ammar al Waeli said, “His father was a leader in the mujahadin in Yemen who was appointed by (bin Laden) to open a training camp in the area of Saada.” The long established Abu Jubarah training camp is discussed in my 2010 article, Large al Qaeda camp in North Yemen dims peace prospects, politician says or see my category Saada, Abu Jubarah.

Air strike kills three al-Qaeda suspects in Sa’ada: Sa’ada Governor
Sunday 28 October 2012 / 26 September Net

26 September Net – Air strikes killed three Al-Qaeda militants on Sunday in the northern Yemeni province of Sa’ada, Sa’ada governor told “26 September Net”.

“Three Al-Qaeda suspects were killed in the air strike targeted the suspects on Sunday in Wadi Aal Jubara, Sa’ada province” Sa’ada governor said, adding two of those killed were Saudi nationals and the third one is a Yemeni.

One of al-Qaeda chief called Omar Batais was injured in the strike.

It is believed the Saudis possessed money for financing al-Qaeda operations in some provinces, the governor went on to say.

He revealed the terrorists had been trying (ed- and succeeding) for more than five years to turn Wadi Abu Junbara a station for crossing to Mare, al-Jawf, Shabwa and Abyan provinces.

US drone and foreign fighters:

Brach Net – said a government official in the province of Saada, preferring anonymity in an exclusive authorized ¯ “politics”, said the plane that carried out the air strike on the area of Wadi Al Abu Jabara Directorate كتاف yesterday is an American drone.
And confirmed the existence of at least 70 militants of the leaders and elements of the organization in the Valley of the Abu Jabara, where “they have a training camp and allied by with the Salafists in fighting the Houthis in the past period and killed them more than 150 people at the hands of Houthis, including foreigners of different nationalities Saudi and Egyptian.”

The Link: Will Abu Hamza’s trial implicate Ali Mohsen and al Zindani in terrorist acts?

Filed under: 9 hostages, Abyan, Military, USS Cole — by Jane Novak at 5:24 pm on Friday, October 19, 2012

The kidnappers called General Ali Mohsen as verified by one of the hostages and Mohsen who said they called to negotiate. The following article (manually translated) says that both Mohsen and al Zindani are worried about what information may be exposed during the trial of Abu Hamza al Masiri.

The 2006 book Imperial Grunts by Robert Kaplan talks about the CIA paying “bad guy” General Ali Mohsen earlier in the decade as the cost of doing business in Yemen. Mohsen officially handled “the jihaddist file” for former president Saleh until his defection to the revolution in March 2011. From 2006-2010, Ali Mohsen commanded military forces and jihaddists in Saada against the Houthis in a manner thought to comprise war crimes. State tactics, like the denial of food to the region and mass arrests, were also labeled collective punishment by international rights groups. The pipeline of Yemeni and foreign jihaddists and suicide bombers to Iraq 2004-2007 ran through Mohsen’s camps and safe houses, with Ali Saleh’s full knowledge and approval. Not to mention the USS Cole bombing.

The US is long overdue in recognizing that “some officers hands are stained with the blood of our soldiers”, instead of continually placating and bribing both Saleh and Mohsen, two of the biggest terrorist facilitators in the region. But its a long shot in the absence of a rational US policy on Yemen.

Article below notes Dajalul was appointed a government position in Amran after his release in 2004.

The Link: Trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri, in America, is it going to finish with the request of trial ” Ali Mohsen” and ” al-Zindani ” ?
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Recently Britain handed Abu Hamza al-Masri to America for trial in America on terrorism-related offenses, and actually Abu Hamza’s trial began in America .trial will address issues related with Abu Hamza al-Masri , especially those relating to the kidnapping of 16 British and an Australian hostages. it took place in Abyan carried out in 98 and the ( Aden-Abyan ) Army in the province of Abyan , Which claimed the lives of a number of kidnapped when freed. The issue then was about a close relationship with Abu Hamza, according to the confessions of the accused during their trial in Yemen. So Yemeni authorities call on Britain to hand over Abu Hamza for trial, and accused him of officially being behind terrorist operations, and terrorist groups in Yemen.

On the other hand Ali Mohsen was a close relationship with the Army of Aden, and behind the same process , according to the results of trial Abulhassan Almihdhar,the main culprit of the process., Who sentenced to death and executed, he said,” we had informed the commander Ali Mohsen of the process but it is he who instructed us to do to put pressure on the authority to release our detainees” .He added” after kidnapping told him we have got sixteen cartons”, means kidnappers. And he was in contact with us and follow the process , and then reported information said that Abu Hamza al-Masri was on full coordination with the kidnappers side with Ali Mohsen in his activities and relationships in Yemen on the other, in real Ali Mohsen was direct contact with Abu Hamza al-Masri, in Britain, in particular coordination on some financial matters.

Things do not stop at this point, but extends to the bombing, which spilled over to the British Embassy, which was carried out by the time Abu Bakr close Djajul of Mohsen , who appointed him as an officer, and was appointed director of one of the districts of Amran governorate released after the end of 2004.
And who has appointed .

And timely trial revealed elements of the Army (Aden / Abyan) that the army was formed in the (Al-eyman University ) by confessions Abu Huraira Altunisi , also Abu Hassan Mehdar revealed that he was one of the guards ” Sheikh Zindani”, who in turn had a relationship with Abu Hamza, who was sending him students Muslims of Britain and Europe to study at (Al-Eyman University ) Which founded by Zindani and includes a large group of students from different nationalities.

Informed sources said that Mohsen follow Abu Hamza trial with deep concern , and his worried increased after last meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Guard commander, and reportedly that ” U.S. National Security Advisor” said to President Hadi, ” some of your officers their hands stained with the blood of our soldiers “, and benefit information that Mohsen and Zindani formed a team of lawyers those close to them to study and monitor the trial of, in America step by steps, fearing of surprises not agreed with him. and they had told him some specific messages before being handed over to America during his trial in Britain.

due to the relationship between “Ali Mohsen” and ” al-Zindani” with Abu Hamza al-Masri, there is likely to be tried both of them , in the case they discovery that there is a link between ” ali mohsen ” and ” the bombing of the USS Cole ” and other issues related which Abu Hamza al-Masri trial about it currently in America

Original Arabic below: (Read on …)

Al Beidh urges postponing Southern Yemen Conference, Feierstein says al Beidh paid by Iran (true)

Filed under: Abyan, Aden, Civil Unrest, Interviews, Iran, South Yemen, USA, Yemen, al Dhalie — by Jane Novak at 9:34 am on Thursday, September 27, 2012

Al Beidh never did anything good for southerners since 2007. As teen age boys died on the streets holding his photo and were jailed by the hundreds by the Saleh War Mafia, he did nothing, not even one English statement or raising a case with the UN or documenting the crimes of a decade. Now al Beidh-for his own reasons- is impeding long overdue efforts to organize a southern conference, establish representatives and develop a consensus that enables southerners to work together to secure rights, aid and progress. (Even consistent electricity would be a great step in Aden, but its very important to get a fair share of the donor funds distributed directly to the families literally starving in the south as elsewhere.)

Below is an interview with US Amb Feierstein about Iran funneling money to Al Beidh in Lebanon, and thats true–the money flows both directly and indirectly. Also the al Faroush have made significant gains in infiltrating Hirak.

Ahmed Al Hobaishi is printing al Beidh’s photos, so broadly the GPC is cloning Hirak, but specifically it leads to the question of the linkage between the Saleh forces and Iran in the south as well as Saada.

We know that Saleh long has had good relations with Iranian intelligence, the al Quds force, so maybe the issue boils down again to Saleh, in this case bringing in the Iranian meddlers to aid in his counter-revolution by bolstering al Beidh and elements of the Houthis. Certainly Iran like AQAP would prefer Saleh back in his seat. The only question is why does the US appear to agree.

The youth and residents of South Yemen might do well to start practicing the democracy and self determination they demand from the UN instead of relying on the self interested al Beidh. Al Beidh has not confronted the southern public with the reality that the UN totally and clearly abandoned the southern cause ( including UN SC res 924 and 931) in the latest UN SC resolutions 2014 and 2051. I received the following al Beidh statement from the same source that has been sending me al Beidh’s statements for years, so its authentic. Googlish below:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الاخ المناضل حسن احمد باعوم رئيس المجلس الاعلى للحراك السلمي لتحرير
واستقلال الجنوب المحترم
الاخوة المناضلين من نواب الرئيس المحترمين
الاخ الأمين العام للمجلس المحترمين والأخ مستشار رئيس المجلس الأعلى
الاخوة المناضلين رؤساء المحافظات ونوابهم المحترمون
تحية نضالية وبعد (Read on …)

Obama’s UN speech

Filed under: USA — by Jane Novak at 2:49 pm on Tuesday, September 25, 2012

As much as I’m critical of the Obama administration’s Yemen policy, I thought it was very good speech Obama gave yesterday at the UN. He explained the US government is prohibited from restricting free speech or meddling in religious affairs and why the First Amendment is so essential to the US. Also he highlighted the US’s religious diversity and said that the same rabid intolerance directed towards the US is more often directed toward diverse groups internally and is the antithesis of equal rights. And he said that we as a people believe the way to answer hateful speech is with not violence but better speech, which is self evident here but obviously is not abroad.

OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin today by telling you about an American named Chris Stevens. Chris was born in a town called Grass Valley, California, the son of a lawyer and a musician.

As a young man, Chris joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Morocco, and he came to love and respect the people of North Africa and the Middle East. He would carry that commitment throughout his life.

As a diplomat, he worked from Egypt to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Libya. He was known for walking the streets of the cities where he worked, tasting the local food, meeting as many people as he could, speaking Arabic, listening with a broad smile.

Chris went to Benghazi in the early days of the Libyan revolution, arriving on a cargo ship. As America’s representative, he helped the Libyan people as they coped with violent conflict, cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for the future in which the rights of all Libyans would be respected.

And after the revolution, he supported the birth of a new democracy, as Libyans held elections, and built new institutions, and began to move forward after decades of dictatorship.

Chris Stevens loved his work. He took pride in the country he served, and he saw dignity in the people that he met.

Two weeks ago, he travelled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. That’s when America’s compound came under attack. Along with three of his colleagues, Chris was killed in the city that he helped to save. He was 52 years old.

I tell you this story because Chris Stevens embodied the best of America. Like his fellow Foreign Service officers, he built bridges across oceans and cultures, and was deeply invested in the international cooperation that the United Nations represents.

He acted with humility, but he also stood up for a set of principles: a belief that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny, and live with liberty, dignity, justice and opportunity.

The attacks on the civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America. We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government and from the Libyan people.

There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.

And I also appreciate that in recent days the leaders of other countries in the region — including Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen — have taken steps to secure our diplomatic facilities and called for calm, and so have religious authorities around the globe.

But understand, the attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They’re also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded: the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully, that diplomacy can take the place of war, that in an interdependent world all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens.

If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy or to put out statements of regret and wait for the outrage to pass. If we are serious about these ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of the crisis, because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes that we hold in common.

Today we must reaffirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers. Today we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our united nations. (Read on …)

Saleh’s office says no US visa in order to continue USS Cole cover-up

Filed under: USS Cole, deposed pres — by Jane Novak at 7:53 am on Monday, September 24, 2012

Its not wise to believe whats in any of the Yemeni partisan papers without a strong dose of skepticism, but the articles are usually half true if not more, and always well spun. The challenge is figuring out which half is fact and which half is fiction and spin.

The following article in the Yemen Observer is quoting an article in the pro-Saleh Yemen Today reporting that Saleh’s office said the US denied him a visa to protect him from questioning related to the 2000 al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole which the US would find embarrassing. Saleh’s office also says President Hadi was concerned for his health and asked Saleh to go to the US for treatment.

So either: 1) the US denied the visa for other reasons and Saleh is lying and trying to appear under the protection of the US, or 2) the embassy denied the visa for their own reasons and told Saleh they were protecting themselves or 3) the embassy denied the visa to save the US from embarrassment as he said. And what a disaster the timeline of the Cole attack is, from well before the attack up to 9/11, from President Clinton through the two Bush terms to the current Obama/Clinton stewardship.

If Saleh is being protected by the US in order to keep his mouth shut, as repugnant as that would be, it would explain the entire US Yemen policy from the beginning of the 2011 revolution until today which otherwise makes little sense. The immunity clause for Saleh and his government is unheard of in international law, yet the US strong armed all the parties into accepting it and Saleh’s continued presence in Yemen. No one in their right mind would ever expect Saleh to give up power quietly and fade away. His disrupting the transition was the sure bet.

There’s more secrets beyond the Cole like the disappearing CT funds, weapons and equipment, and the diversion of US trained CT units to Saada and against unarmed protesters. There’s also the head of the CT unit’s multi-million dollar condos in DC, referring of course to Ahmed Saleh, deposed president Ali Saleh’s son. So even freezing Saleh’s assets might be embarrassing. Returning Saleh’s funds to the Yemeni treasury remains a top demand of the protesters and it would have been the logic first step in dis-empowering him.

Saleh would not leave Yemen for any reason Yemen Observer, Written By: Nasser Arrabyee, Article Date: Sep 23, 2012

The Yemeni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh would not leave Yemen now, nor in the future, said sources in his office on Friday.

“The former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has not any desire to leave his homeland for any reason whatsoever,” said Yemen Today daily, quoted the sources as saying. Yemen Today is one of Saleh’s party newspapers.

“Yemen needs Saleh in such circumstances, so he should not leave now nor in the future,” the paper said.

Earlier in the week,the US ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstien said that the American embassy delayed a visa request for Saleh and a number of his companions. Mr Feierstein said in a press conference earlier this week in Sanaa, that the time was not appropriate for Saleh to visit US for further treatments.

The Saleh ’s office told the paper,however, that Feierstein justified the delay of Saleh’s visa by saying the time of the visit would coincide with the trial of the Yemeni Guantanamo detainee Abdul Rahim Al Nashiri who is accused of bombing the USS Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000 in which 19 American sailors were killed. The American court may recall Saleh for testimony over the Cole issue, Feierstein justified according to the paper.

Saleh’s testimony would cause embarrassment to the US Administration, the paper said.

Earlier this year, the American court asked Saleh, when he was in a treatment trip in US, and wax still in power, to attend for testimony over the Cole issue, but he refused.

Saleh’s office also said that Saleh had never asked for the visa, but Mr Feierstein and President Hadi insisted on him to go to United States for further treatments. Respecting that insistence for his health, Saleh handed his passport and passports of his companions for visa process.

Good luck to Yemeni President Hadi!

Filed under: Donors, UN, Investment, Pres Hadi, UK, USA — by Jane Novak at 8:47 am on Sunday, September 23, 2012

President Hadi arrived today in the UK, its his first stop due to the two nations’ long historic ties. The Yemeni interim president is facing monumental challenges and hopefully the trip will garner real support for a civil state in Yemen and cement a self-development strategy beneficial to all Yemenis.

SANAA, Sept. 22 — Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will head to the United States next week, as the first trip to the U.S. since taking power in February, a Yemeni government official said on Saturday. (Read on …)

US Amb at Yemen National Dialog prep meeting prompts Houthis withdrawal, Updated: Southerners to withdraw over replacements

Filed under: National Dialog Committee, Sa'ada, Saada War, USA, War Crimes — by Jane Novak at 9:45 am on Monday, September 17, 2012

9/22: FNA: Following disputes last week between members of the Technical Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, first over Presidential Decree of 17 September and then over the presence of the US ambassador during an ordinary meeting with the Group of 10, the ordinary meeting for Saturday 22 September was suspended Friday evening.

A member of the Committee indicated other matters added to the reasons given to suspend the ordinary meeting. One reason was the failure to secure a meeting with President Hadi prior to his departure for London this week. Ms. Basha also indicated due to some members boycotting Committee meetings since last week the Saturday meeting would have lacked quorum.

Update 1: the replacement of the southern representative with Abdullah Hassan has or will prompt withdrawal of the southern delegation. More broadly, many southerners believe that north/south discussions is distinct, and dialog among northerners doesn’t concern them. I think if they came as a unified group who had the interests of southern citizens at the forefront, they could accomplish a lot of good, but there is the perpetual political posturing some of which is a holdover from the 1980’s.

Update 2: Wow, Feierstein tries public diplomacy for once and remarks on the arrival of the Marines; its a protection team for the embassy with a limited deployment in time and space, below.

Original: Today especially, when the entire Middle East is protesting the US, Feierstein decides he’s going to ride roughshod on the Houthis, in person. He could have at least asked before barging into the room. Its obvious his presence would prompt a response from the Houthis who marched against him yesterday from Change Square to Hadi’s house, and avoided the US embassy altogether. The main thing its to get the Houthis enfranchised and make the dialog happen, not to exert US hegemony over every step.

Things will be a lot less tense once Feierstien completes his term, and an extension would be a very bad idea. Also its a good idea to get a set of fresh eyes in the embassy, because Feierstein is factually wrong in certain areas and one driver of the disastrous US policy in Yemen.

Just a point, the Clinton State Department was extremely laid back when Saleh-paid thugs besieged several ambassadors including Gerald Feierstein for four hours in the UAE’s embassy where they gathered prior to signing the GCC agreement in May 2010. Finally they were flown out by helicopter, and Feierstein laughed and joked about it the same day. It was likely the same type of paid thugs who stormed and looted the US embassy this week.

Related: YT, Parliament rejects additional US Marines at embassy. At some points, diplomacy is actually called for. I think the position went to his head.

FNA: #Yemen – - Houthis withdraw from Technical Committee meeting FNA 17.09.2012 – Houthis withdrew from a meeting held by the Technical Committee, charged of preparing Yemen’s National Dialogue, in Sana’a this Monday morning, after U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein enter the room; arguing the diplomat was “overstepping national sovereignty boundaries.” Sharaf al Din and Mohammed al Bokhaiti – both representatives of Houthis on the Committee – expressed concerns over other factions’ lenience regarding the admission “of a foreign entity” at a meeting where “national security issues” were being discussed.

السفير الأمريكي بصنعاء جيرالد فايرستاين:
- أود أن أُعرب عن تقديري العميق للشعب اليمني لدعمهم السخي ورفضهم الواسع للعنف الذي وُجه ضد السفارة الأمريكية بصنعاء يوم الخميس الموافق 13 سبتمبر.
- بعد إجراء مشاورات وثيقة بين الولايات المتحدة والسلطات اليمنية، سيعمل عدد قليل من القوات الأمنية الإضافية وبشكلٍ مؤقت على المساعدة في جهود الأمن وإعادة الترتيب في السفارة. وتقتصر مهمة هؤلاء الأفراد على تقديم المساعدة في مرافقنا الدبلوماسية وحماية الدبلوماسيين الأمريكيين من العنف، ويعدُ التكليف المؤقت للقوات الإضافية لمساعدة البعثات الدبلوماسية الأمريكية التي تواجه تحديات أمنية شيئاً طبيعياً.
- تُكلف مثل هذه المجموعة على مدى قصير وبعد مشاورات وثيقة مع الحكومات المضيفة، كما أنها تعمل وفقاً للقانون الدولي.
-تم إتخاذ قرار إستخدام هذه المجموعة الصغيرة عقب مشاورات وثيقة أُجريت بين الولايات المتحدة والسلطات اليمنية.
- سنبقى صامدين، ليس فقط بالتزامنا في مساعدة الشعب اليمني، بل أيضاً في التزامنا بالصداقة الدائمة التي تطورت بين بلدينا وشعبينا. ومعاً، سنستمر في البناء على ذلك الأساس الذي وضعه أولئك الذين ضحوا كثيراً من أجل تحقيق تحولٍ سياسي سلمي ويمنٍ أكثر أمناً وديمقراطيةً وازدهاراً في المستقبل.

Polish intel warning to CIA on USS Cole attack was ignored: top Polish spy

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 12:48 pm on Thursday, September 6, 2012

More weird stuff to go with all the other weird stuff regarding US govt actions and policy prior to and after the USS Cole bombing. The story here is that starting in 1999 Polish intel gave the CIA information for nearly a year on an impending al Qaeda attack on a US warship. The CIA investigated and didn’t find any corroborating evidence, and downplayed the likelihood of an attack to the Poles. Then al Qaeda blew up the USS Cole in the port of Aden. So what happened, the CIA missed it, despite the Polish intel and NSA’s constant surveillance of the Yemen hub? And then in the aftermath, the CIA withheld info on the suspects including two in the US who turned out to be 9/11 highjackers. The more you look at the Cole, the less it makes sense.

Makowski—who spent 20 years in the Polish espionage service and rose to the rank of colonel—also blames the CIA for the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors.

“Beginning in 1999, for almost a year, we started giving information that bin Laden had made a decision to prepare an operation to attack U.S. warships in the Gulf,” Makowski told McClatchy. “There was a 27-person team… We told them who its leader was, his passport number [and] his Dubai identity card.”

About three months before the attack, according to Makowski, the CIA said they thought “such an attack is impossible.”

Gutman notes that Makowski’s former colleague Gromoslaw Czempinski—a legend at the CIA for leading the rescue of six U.S. intelligence officers from Iraq in 1990—vouched for his story.

Read more: Business Insider

(Read on …)

MEPC lists US’s drone policy in Yemen blowback potential

Filed under: Abyan, Air strike, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 10:44 am on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In a seven page article, the Middle East Policy Council questions whether signature strikes in particular result in creating a population more prone to accepting an Emirate. I have some quibbles, for example state authority didn’t disappear- it never existed- and much of the local population in Abyan saw Ansar al Sharia as an occupation not a welcome vehicle of lawfulness. But its an interesting report in that the authors extrapolate six distinct negative patters of drone blowback as indicated by earlier events in the FATA region:

Executive Executions and Signature Strikes

Currently, the United States engages in two types of drone strikes, and neither is the surgical excision of HVTs on which the American public’s enthusiasm for drones depends. Until early 2012, the United States only conducted “personality strikes,” in Yemen. These are authorized by the president in a form of executive execution. The targets have not been indicted for a crime, let alone convicted, and have been identified as enemy combatants through an opaque process. A significant percentage of the targets and victims of this type of strike in Yemen have been U.S. citizens (Ahmed Hijazi, Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki). Their families have recently brought a civil suit in U.S. courts that will help clarify the obscure de facto parameters for executive executions.18

While there have been successful HVT strikes on non-U.S. citizens in Yemen, they probably follow the Pakistani pattern, alienating parts of the local population and increasing the insecurity that often fosters organizational recruitment. In fact, Yemen may provide a more significant example of this effect than FATA because of its complex internal situation, noted above. According to our calculations, only four HVTs have been killed out of 230-270 total deaths. This is roughly a 1:60 ratio of HVT to total deaths, comparable to the ratio in FATA under the Bush administration (before the proliferation of signature strikes).

In early 2012, the White House authorized the use of “signature strikes” in Yemen. This type of targeting allows for wider parameters, quicker response and authorization at a lower command level. Signature strikes have also been used in FATA. They are based on categories of possible target groups and patterns of movement rather than on identified individuals. For example, a group of militant-age men carrying weapons and moving towards a known militant area can be targeted under this practice. As some reports from Yemen note, the populace is not opposed to the use of drones when they target and hit known AQAP members.19 However, the introduction of signature strikes will likely change this dynamic, as it has in FATA. With signature strikes, accuracy in targeting will likely decrease, and more Yemenis unconnected to AQAP will be killed. (Read on …)

CIA bungled Yemen 2000/2001, leading up to 9/11: Soufan

Filed under: USS Cole, al nashiri, fahd — by Jane Novak at 11:52 am on Friday, August 24, 2012

Duh! Bungled is the charitable explanation.

Its a fact that the CIA knew that two individuals that Soufan was seeking (in connection with the al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole) were in the US, and its a fact that the CIA withheld the info from Soufan and the FBI until 9/12 when the pair were identified as two of the 19 highjackers.

But what about the CIA and NSA failing to act or share information before the USS Cole attack, considering the Yemen hub was wired since 1998? There was a satellite trained on the front door 24/7. It strains credulity that neither agency had any inkling of the plot, considering they were recording every phone call and the Cole bombing was coordinated in and via that house and that phone. The best explanation is what, incompetence? They didn’t want to blow their surveillance?

And what about the CIA withholding information (including photos of Fahd al Quso and Walid bin Attash) about the al Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 where both the Cole and 9/11 were planned?

The facts Soufan reported in his excellent and heavily redacted book (which apparently just went on sale in the UK) are entirely separate from the egregious chain of events detailed by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaeffer, ie- that Able Danger’s urgent warnings of an impending terror attack in Port Aden were shut down and never forwarded to the Cole. Not to mention Kie Fallis, the DIA analyst who independently and strenuously tried to raise a red flag with an official warning. But Commander Lippold never got that message either.

Despite NSA’s constant electronic and satellite surveillance, CIA’s physical surveillance and other intel, Able Danger’s data mining and the DIA analyst who also picked it up, al Qaeda blew up a US warship in Port Aden, Ocotober 2000, killing 17 US service members. Many of the same core group of terrorists and their associates were later involved in 9/11.

While Soufan gives a fascinating and detailed first hand account of his investigation, the CIA’s “huge mistakes with devastating consequences” were already well documented open source. For the most coherent treatment, see the 9/11 Timeline at History Commons.

The CIA withholding info about the Cole attack and associated terrorists (before and after the bombing) was obviously a contributing factor in the US being caught flat footed as planes started crashing into buildings. They should issue a mea culpa and stop hassling Soufan. It would be refreshing.

Former FBI Agent Says The CIA Failed To Act Before 9/11 Terrorist Attack

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan sat down with the BBC last year to talk about his belief the CIA failed to pass along critical information about two of the 9/11 hijackers before the attacks.

Soufan was working for the FBI in Yemen at the time of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. He was looking for two of the hijackers in the Middle East but they were already in America, something Soufan claims the CIA knew and failed to report.

And now, Soufan says the government is trying to keep him quiet.

“They are trying to stop me and others from telling the world what really happened over there,” he told the BBC.

But the CIA is calling his allegations “baseless,” adding that Soufan’s suggestions the agency is censoring him is “ridiculous.”

Watch Soufan’s full interview with the BBC:

Another interesting facet of the USS Cole story is that top officials in the Saleh regime and family knew of, directed and otherwise abetted the terrorist plot. Nashiri’s defense team made the point that most of the good information the US got immediately following the bombing came from Saleh personally. A few years later, Saleh released all the convicted Cole bombers from jail early and gave them money.

For example, Fahd al Quso was released from jail in May 2007 and killed by a drone in 2012. In the intervening years, he was instrumental in preparing new plots to mass murder Americans including the Nigerian’s underwear bomb and the toner cartridge bomb among others.

That the US was tied at the hip to an al Qaeda appeasing war criminal is most often explained away by hard minded people as the easiest and most effective policy for the US, and one that arises from a lack of alternatives. Others find US policy in Yemen (currently and over the last decade) illogical, dangerous and short sighted. Either way, the US’s long support of Saleh, kowtowing to him during the revolution and protecting him after, becomes more comprehensible in the light of the aforementioned relationships and events.

(Read on …)

Assorted Yemen links

Filed under: Abyan, GCC, USA, terror financing — by Jane Novak at 8:44 am on Friday, July 27, 2012

Influx of Gulf money to al-Qaeda in Yemen (supporters of Sharia) Thursday, July 26, 2012 (ar)

360 cities panoramic photos of Yemen

Abyani Tribes and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Critical Threats, good overview

Official Blind Eyes Thwart Yemen’s Attempts to Rehabilitate Al-Qa’ida Terrorists
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012, The Media Line on PSO releases of AQAP. Now they are going to Jaar; before the rev they went to Saada.

Tawakkol Karman: I can’t believe that (the U.S.) didn’t know of Saleh’s connection with al Qaeda

Asharq Al-Awsat interview: US Envoy to Yemen Gerald M. Feierstein 08/07/2012, the one where he uses the royal we.

GAO: Uncertain Political and Security Situation Challenges U.S. Efforts to Implement a Comprehensive Strategy in Yemen: 2/29/12 Since fiscal year 2007, U.S. agencies have allocated more than $642 million in security2 and civilian assistance to Yemen. …..However, both State and DOD officials expressed some concerns about future security assistance activities, including identifying who will be the key U.S. partners in the Yemeni security forces. Until 2011, the United States trained and equipped specialized security forces focused on counterterrorism that members of the Saleh family led. While the implementing mechanism for the Gulf Cooperation Council political transition agreement calls for the reorganization of the armed services, it is unclear how or when the military will be reorganized and who will lead it. (ed- the US is apparently still hoping to keep nephew Yahya and son Ahmed which would be a tremendous error.)

Another 20 sitting in drafts were back dated and posted.

and via email, Ali Mohsen and Ahmed Saleh have to go: Karman

Tawakkol Karman: Iran wants to militarily overthrow Yemen. The Houthi should admit into the political process and leave the option of the violence. Tawakkol Karman appreciates Ali Mohsen’s stance with the revolution; the president Hadi should dismiss him, along with Ahmed Ali before turning the Republican Guards into the Revolutionary Guards. (Read on …)

Open letter from Yemen specialists urge change in US policy focus

Filed under: USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 5:09 am on Friday, July 20, 2012

The gaggle of western experts think there is a better US policy available and consider the current policy to be detrimental to US national security interests. Their underlying assumption is that the US is under-informed and misguided but sincere in its intentions. However by this point its clear the US wants a pliable dictatorship that is more efficient in delivering services and will do whatever it takes to cement US stewardship and cover up prior US complicity.

The Cable

The letter, spearheaded by the Yemen Policy Initiative, a dialogue organized by the Atlantic Council and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), outlines several diplomatic, political, economic, humanitarian, and security policy recommendations that include increasing assistance to democracy-building institutions, working with the international community to immediately address Yemen’s “food security needs,” sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and rethinking the strategy of drone strikes, which the signatories argue “could strengthen the appeal of extremist groups.”

“The real essence [of the letter] was that we have a new government in Yemen, and what we need to do is recalibrate or rebalance the relationship to make it clear to both the Yemenis and to the American people that our interests and the focus of our efforts there are not solely AQAP,” former U.S. ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told The Cable. “Al Qaeda is a short-term, immediate issue … we need to took to the medium-term and long-term.”

Stephen McInerney, executive director of POMED, argues that while U.S. policy in Yemen is “shortsighted” and “too narrow,” AQAP is still a real threat.

the letter

June 26, 2012: ACUS: While intensified engagement may be a necessary step toward stabilizing Yemen, as individuals who care deeply about the United States and the future of Yemen, we believe the current US strategy jeopardizes our long-term national security goals. A broader approach that places emphasis on the underlying economic and political problems will better serve the stability of Yemen and, accordingly, our national security interests, rather than a primary focus on counterterrorism efforts and direct military involvement.

The US has a fundamental strategic interest in Yemen to address several key objectives: combating AQAP and other armed groups; ensuring Red Sea stability for oil transport and shipping routes; and preserving regional security while minimizing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In each of these areas, Yemen’s stability is critical to achieving the United States’ core strategic interests. In turn, Yemen’s trajectory depends on achieving a successful democratic transition that

Obama claims drone targets are on list

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 5:30 am on Monday, June 18, 2012

Maybe in Pakistan but in Yemen they dont know the names or have a clear idea of identity, are hitting the lower levels and apparently upped the threshold for acceptable incidental civilian casualties.

YOL, 09/07/2012 (Read on …)

Obama admin leaking intl for political payoff?

Filed under: Counter-terror, Saudi Arabia, TI: External, UK, USA, Yemen, airliner — by Jane Novak at 6:17 am on Sunday, May 27, 2012

Examiner.com but not me:

An alleged intelligence leak regarding a covert operation that thwarted an “underwear bomb” plot last week is now creating distrust and ill feelings within the U.S. intelligence community and has led to increased talk about intelligence leaks at the highest levels of government, according to terrorism experts on Friday. (Read on …)

Lacking intel on AQAP, Obama admin broadens drone targeting guidelines

Filed under: Air strike, Al-Qaeda, USA — by Jane Novak at 9:03 am on Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Obama admin has approved droning Yemenis deemed a threat to the US even if their identities are not known. The US is currently relying heavily on aerial surveillance for intel on AQAP, following a decade of exclusively relying on half bogus intel from the subverted Saleh regime. And its likely the CIA/DOD has identified individuals regularly seen in the company of known al Qaeda leaders. However, sentencing random, unknown Yemenis to death based on tenuous associations or physical proximity is exactly the same rationale Al Qaeda used in justifying the murder of pedestrians passing the US Embassy in 2008. On a practical level, one more uniquely bad hit could create blowback that overwhelms any progress. Human intel may be difficult to obtain in Yemen, but some reporting has detailed over 3000 informants including some who aren’t aware the end user is the US. But draining the swamp can go a long way. The Obama admin appears to still be on a quest for shortcuts, easy fixes and stability through institutionalized injustice. Inexplicably, the US politically empowered religious hardliners and negated the impact of authentic democracy advocates and their quite logical and productive demands.

WSJ: The Obama administration has given the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military greater leeway to target suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen with drones, responding to worries a new haven is being established from which to mount attacks on the West.

The policy shift, as described by senior U.S. officials, includes targeting fighters whose names aren’t known but who are deemed to be high-value terrorism targets or threats to the U.S. The White House stopped short of authorizing attacks on groups of lower-level foot soldiers who are battling the Yemeni government, the officials said.

Al Qaeda plans to hit US Embassy, other Sanaa targets, after diversionary strike in Mukallah, report; Update: drones in al Baydah & Jaar, Ethiopians in Abyan

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Hadramout, Sana'a, USA, attacks — by Jane Novak at 7:05 am on Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sounds bad, kind of a vehicular Mumbai style swarm. There’s no way the US embassy doesn’t know this already though right? The article was published last night at 9pm. Also note there’s sources and there’s security sources. This is but one reason why freedom of the press is so important in Yemen–open source AQAP reporting. There’s history and links to news articles on Ibrahim al Banaa below.

Related: Yes they are apparently all over it. US drones strikes kill 25 in Yemen overnight:

US drones raided several hideouts of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda wing in the southeast restive province of Al-Baydha on Friday night. At least 25 AQAP militants were killed, including senior figures, with several other militants being wounded in an air strike conducted by the United States forces according to local website news…Moreover recent news that al-Shaba’a, the Ethiopian al-Qaeda wing had sent hundreds of Jihadists over to Abyan to join in Ansar al-Sharia, has been the cause of great concerns for both the government and the civilian population, as they feel their land could become the ground of a mighty war.

Ethiopians? al Shaba’a? 1) Maybe these are the nine mystery ships that everyone is talking about arriving before last Sunday’s attack on the military base in Abyan that killed nearly 200 Yemeni soldiers and 2) How weak is AQAP that they need to import fighters?

There’s also reports of drone strikes in Jaar, Abyan that destroyed the military equipment AQAP captured from the army last week-end. Update: The al Baydah airstrikes hit the AQAP training camp and targeted local al-Qaeda leader Abdulwahhab al-Homaiqani, the BBC reports. Its always good when there are no immediate reports of civilian casualties, I would have heard by now.

The Yemeni soldiers captured (who weren’t beheaded or otherwise mutilated) were paraded around Jaar, forced to train the terrorists on how to operate the tanks, and now are threatened with execution if the govt doesn’t release AQ prisoners.

The YO article regarding reports of an impending attack follows: Yemen Observer:

Yemen based al-Qaeda plans strikes on Sana’a and Mukala Reliable sources have said that al-Qaeda has been preparing for its largest operations yet in the capital city of Sana’a, operations aimed at strategic sites including military and security installments and embassies.

Sources said that al-Qaeda cells in the areas of Zindan and Arhab have trained for operations involving the storming of fortified sites, attacking fixed and mobile targets while aboard vehicles and motorbikes, and that al-Qaeda militants have entered Sana’a in preparation for carrying out their attacks in the coming few days.

The sources expect that al-Qaeda’s potential targets include the Airbase in Sana’a, the Interior Ministry, Republican Guard units and a number of embassies, including the American embassy.

The sources confirmed information regarding intentions by al-Qaeda to attack Mukala to divert attention its plans in Sana’a.

Security sources said that over 400 al-Qaeda militants are currently in Shabwa’s Azan Directorate, with three al-Qaeda leaders in charge (Ibrahim al-Bana, an Egyptian, Qasem al-Rimi and Shaker Hamel) of plans to attack vital installations, security sites, and important government facilities as part of a plan to expand their so-called Azan Islamic state to Mukala. (Read on …)

US Attorney General Holder affirms “lawful” use of drones (no attacks targeting civilians)

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, South Yemen, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 9:59 am on Thursday, March 8, 2012

In a speech this week, the US Attorney General Eric Holder laid out the Obama administration’s legal criteria for drone use and in particular for assassinating American al Qaeda members abroad. The criteria is summarized below by the Lawfare blog. More importantly than the targeting of Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan for me, and for the residents of Abyan, Marib, Shabwa, etc., AG Holder reaffirmed the Obama administration’s firm commitment to act within the “international rules of war.”

With the recent uptick in AQAP activity and growing territorial occupation, people too poor to flee al Qaeda are terrified of both AQ and drone attacks. Hopefully this statement by AG Holder represents a real and ongoing commitment by the Obama administration to the principle of civilian immunity and US respect for the value of Yemeni lives.

AQAP does not follow the rules of war, and uses human shields, sheltering in civilian populated areas. The US has been targeting vehicle convoys, not towns. The shelling in Zinibar was from the Yemeni military, not US drones.

After grave US errors like al Mahfad (and the utterly shameful US statement that nearby Bedouins and their children were guilty of material support for selling vegetables, although the villagers had appealed to local authorities to expel the terrorists) and Saleh’s murder of his political enemy Sheik al Shabwani via US drone, visible US drones make parents very concerned. At the same time, the drones have been visible in Marib and many other locations since 2010, and I would think they are collecting surveillance photos.

I think/hope/pray the US understands that these are unwillingly occupied towns, that intel from the Saleh family is entirely unreliable, the CT units have been partially subverted by AQ and that in all cases, children under 14 cannot be terrorists.

The attitude of Yemenis is that al Qaeda should be captured, given a fair trial and imprisoned if there is actual evidence of crimes. They do not oppose counter-terror operations per se but summary execution without trial, just like many Americans who raised objections over Awlaki and Khan.

Boston Herald: Speaking at Northwestern University law school, Holder gave the most complete explanation to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing people like U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, who was targeted in an airstrike in Yemen last year.

Such killings can be ordered “in full accordance with the Constitution” but require “at least” an imminent threat in a situation where capture is not feasible, and when the strike is “conducted in a manner consistent” with the rules of war, Holder said.

The lawfare summary brings up another issue though, “a senior operational role,” which presupposes that the US knows who it is droning. While the criteria Holder outlined is for deliberate targeting of US citizens, it would be nice to think that the US has some clue as to the names of its Yemeni targets and doesn’t just look for random gatherings of bearded men. In Yemen, the most accurate fatality listing of US drone strikes comes from al Qaeda itself, and the Yemeni government announced Qasim al Reimi was dead four times.

While I imagine there are vast challenges to intelligence gathering on AQAP, it is this imprecision that can lead to collateral damage or more accurately, dead children. I still haven’t gotten over the photos of the crucifixion of the “spies,” but logically a modicum of respect for southerners as southerners in general would go a long way. The language of SD spox Victoria Nuland’s Press Briefing 3/5/12 blew southerners minds, and she probably had no clue how very poorly and furiously it would be received.

via Lawfare’s summary: That is, the speech asserts that Due Process permits targeting of a citizen at least when the target is:

(i) located abroad rather than in the United States,

(ii) has a senior operational role

(iii) with al Qaeda or an al Qaeda-associated force,

(iv) is involved in plotting focused on the death of Americans in particular,

(v) that threat is “imminent” in the sense that this is the last clear window of opportunity to strike,

(vi) there is no feasible option for capture without undue risk, and

(vii) the strike will comply with the IHL principles of necessity, distinction, proportionality, and humanity.

What is the acceptable metric of civilian causality per each suspected al Qaeda targeted? Much, much lower than Afghanistan I hope. Its a very volatile situation.

US to resume military training in Yemen prior to restructing military

Filed under: Counter-terror, Diplomacy, Donors, UN, Military, Security Forces, USA, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 11:25 am on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hows that going to work? Clearly the Yemeni forces are not up to the challenge without support considering yesterday’s bloodbath. But how to offset the AQAP subversion, root out the corrupt and purge the murderers while training is ongoing, (it didn’t work so well in the past), al Qaeda is attacking and restructure the Yemeni military simultaneously. Southerners, Houthis and other excluded groups have to be integrated into the new military for balance. Meanwhile its been AQAP’s goal to draw in US military forces.

US officials’ statements alienating southerners en masse (al Qaeda’s unwilling captive and nearby communities) isn’t helping overall efforts.

US and Yemeni officials have agreed to restart a controversial military-training program to help the new president tackle Al Qaeda militants as part of planned enhanced counter-terrorism relationship.

While President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has openly turned to Washington as he attempts to get the upper hand over the terrorist group, his policy may have a key drawback — upsetting the delicate political balance of power in the country and complicating the sensitive task of overhauling the nation’s fractured security forces.

Dozens of US special operations forces already on the ground are set to resume training of counterterrorism forces after a lull last year amid a wave of new sophisticated assaults by the Yemeni branch of the terrorist group and loosely linked jihadi groups. FOX

Anthony Shaffer: Awlaki a US double agent before 9/11

Filed under: US jihaddis, USS Cole, anwar, fahd — by Jane Novak at 10:18 am on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, former DIA analyst in the Able Danger data mining operation, says in a current interview that Anwar Al Awlaki was a US double or triple agent before 9/11.

That may account for the US closing its investigation of Anwar’s connections to the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman in 1999. Once Awlaki’s many ties to the 9/11 highjackers became clear, a JTTF San Diego investigation was reopened. But in 2002, US Attorney Gaouette rescinded an arrest warrant against Anwar for passport fraud, a day before he re-entered the US.

Anwar as a double agent for and a triple agent against the US might explain the utter communication breakdown between JTTF’s DC and San Diego offices on Awlaki’s email correspondence with the soon to be jihaddist murderer Nidal Hassan.

It might also explain why Awlaki was never charged with anything–not incitement, not conspiracy to murder, even after the Nigerian Abdumutallab said he met with Awlaki regarding the Dec 2009 airplane bombing plot hatched in Yemen. On the other hand, it could all be a string of incompetence and bad luck. I don’t know which would be worse.

News Rescue “In video, Lt.Col. Anthony Shaffer describes how Anwar al-Awlaki Was a triple agent, and an FBI Asset Before 9/11 on infowars. Anthony Shaffer is a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who gained fame for his claims about mishandled intelligence before the September 11 attacks and for the censoring of his book, Operation Dark Heart.

Shaffer and the Able Danger team also uncovered intelligence of an impending al Qaeda terror plot in the Gulf of Aden in the weeks immediately prior to the bombing of the USS Cole on Oct 12, 2000 in Yemen. Able Danger tried strenuously to issue a warning that, like DIA analyst Kye Fallis’ was thwarted.

Despite the NSA’s constant and years long monitoring of the Yemen hub and the CIA’s surveillance of the 2000 Malaysia meeting where both the Cole attack and 9/11 were planned, no intelligence warning on the Cole bombing was generated or forwarded from those agencies either. (The CIA later withheld info on the Malaysia meeting from the FBI as it was investigating the Cole, leaving connections to the impending 9/11 attack unexplored.)

Lt. Shaffer was black balled by DIA after he went public with the 9/11 Commission’s failure to include his testimony regarding the presence of Atta in the US. Commander Lippold was essentially forced to retire by DOD. Fallis quit DIA on the day of the Cole bombing.

The Malaysia meeting was attended by current AQAP leader Fahd al Quso and top AQ operatives from several nations. As I’ve been saying for nearly a decade, al Quso’s unique threat level comes from his operational experience (blowing up a warship) coupled with his international connections and credibility.

Al Quso was indicted on over 50 counts of terrorism in NY’s Southern District in 2003 following his 2002 escape from Aden jail. The Sanaa regime secretly released al Quso in May 2007 despite a ten year sentence handed down after his 2004 “recapture,” the Washington Post reported. Al Quso finally made it to the MWT list in Nov 2009 and was designated Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US State Department in Dec 2010.

The US began its drone campaign in Yemen with strikes in Dec 2009, where Awlaki and other AQAP leaders were supposedly meeting at Fahd al Quso’s farm. Al Quso gave several media interviews recently, noting how lovely things are in the AQ occupied towns in Yemen, when they are not crucifying spies, beheading soldiers, looting banks and dehanding teen-agers. Yesterday, AG Holder, the bastion of flex-fit jurisprudence, gave the Obama administration’s rationale for targeting US citizens with drones.

Update: Gah! Must be something in the air. Fox: Mueller grilled on FBI’s release of al-Awlaki in 2002 (3/7/12)

The warrant was pulled by a judge in Colorado, after the cleric entered the U.S. A U.S. attorney in Colorado who oversaw the warrant and the Justice Department claimed the cleric’s earlier lies to the Social Security Administration, the basis of the charge, had been corrected. But new documents obtained by Fox News through the Freedom of Information Act show otherwise.

After al-Awlaki re-entered the U.S. in the fall of 2002 with the FBI’s help, the cleric then appeared in a high-profile investigation, in which Agent Ammerman was a lead investigator. The FBI has not made the agent available to Fox News to interview, nor has the Department of Justice made the U.S. attorney on the case available. Former FBI agents say Ammerman would have needed permission from higher up in the bureau to let al-Awlaki go.

The House Homeland Security Committee launched an official investigation into the cleric and his 9/11 connections last year, but sources tell Fox News that committee staffers have been frustrated by the FBI’s resistance to providing documents and witnesses, citing “ongoing investigations.”

Wolf urged the FBI director to brief other lawmakers, including the head of the house intelligence committee, so that a similar scenario “never happens again.”

Fox News confirmed that the October 2002 incident and the arrest warrant for al-Awlaki was never disclosed to the 9/11 Commission or to Congress.

Former FBI agents, familiar with al-Awlaki’s re-entry in October 2002, say only two scenarios seem to explain what happened. The FBI was tracking the cleric for intelligence or the FBI was working with the cleric and saw him as a “friendly contact.”

Good luck to soon to be new Yemeni President Hadi!

Filed under: Biographies, Transition, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 9:40 am on Monday, February 20, 2012

Bios below. Hadi’s not a “southerner” in that he defected to Saleh in 1986 and fought against the south in 1994. Hopefully he will rise to the occasion, sometimes people do that. We’ll have to see. Its going to be lovely though to see Saleh out of office after all these years.

SANA’A — Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi used to be known as a silent man who never objected to, let alone disobeyed, any of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s orders.

This manner of managing the country resulted in the peaceful youth revolution, which began in February of 2011 and which led to Hadi becoming Yemen’s new president.

Hadi departed from the south with Ali Naser Mohamed after the January 1986 war between leaders of the Aden’s Socialist Party. He and Mohamed left for Sana’a after they suffered defeat in Aden.

In the 1994 war, Hadi sided with Saleh against the secession movement which surfaced in the same year and which, by year’s end, was aligned with Saleh. During the outgoing president’s 33-year rule, Hadi received the respect of all parties, due largely to a perception that he kept his hands clean of political and moral corruption.
(Read on …)

The US its own worst enemy in Yemen

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, USA — by Jane Novak at 5:00 pm on Thursday, February 16, 2012

A very good article by Jeremy Scahill examines US policy in Yemen in Washington’s War in Yemen Backfires and highlights some of the contradictions (mule headedness?) that are heightening tensions and increasing risks to national security.

I agree that the “US has always gotten it wrong in Yemen.” Its not just Obama, but rather a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of Yemen that stems back through the Krajeski era. There was never a good baseline and the echo chamber effect compounded errors as uninformed or misinformed analysis led to wrong conclusions and outcomes time after time. Perhaps it was the total isolation of the embassy personnel as their reality was shaped by the Saleh propaganda machine and prior misconceptions. In an interview regarding the piece at Democracy Now:

Scahill reports that U.S. drone strikes, civilian drone casualties and deepening poverty in Yemen have all contributed to the cause of an Islamist uprising and how the U.S. has always “gotten it wrong” in Yemen.

In the interview, Scahill says that, “The arrogance of the U.S. was always thinking that whatever U.S. official was sent to Yemen was smarter than Ali Abdullah Saleh. … [Saleh] was a master chess player and he milked counter-terrorism as his cash cow. [U.S.-supplied] forces have almost never been used to actually battle anyone determined to be terrorists. They’ve existed primarily for the defense of the Saleh regime.”

He goes on to highlight the difference in perspectives between the U.S. and the actual Yemeni people, “One tribal leader who said very clearly,’al-Qaeda’s a terrorist organization. Yes these guys want to destroy America’…’you consider them terrorists. We consider the drones terrorism.’”

Watch it here:

State dept runs interference for Saleh in USS Cole case

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 4:35 pm on Thursday, February 16, 2012

The military tribunal at Gitmo ruled today that Saleh cannot be compelled to testify as a witness in the al Nashiri case. I am shocked that Obama’s friend and vital US partner in the WOT wouldn’t voluntarily want to aid the US judicial system. Apparently Saleh was the one who supplied much of the information directly to the US about al Nashiri, as well as giving him sanctuary after the attack. But it begs the question: when did Saleh learn of the plot. It must have been “after” because the US wouldn’t have spent the last decade supporting a dictator while knowing he was complicit in a terror attack against the US military.

Boston Herald: MIAMI — Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in the United States with full diplomatic immunity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s legal adviser has written the Pentagon, and should not be compelled to provide sworn testimony for the Guantanamo war court. (Read on …)

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