Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

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

US drone target tied to Yemen’s military leader

Filed under: Air strike, Military, embassy, mil restrucuturing, obits, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 10:47 am on Saturday, November 10, 2012

US drone strike 11/6 in Sanhan, another mediator killed, tied to 2008 US embassy attack

SANAA: A drone strike near the Yemeni capital killed three suspected Al-Qaeda members including a militant wanted for a deadly attack on the US embassy in Sanaa, security officials said on Thursday. They said the drone strike, believed to have been carried out by the United States, targeted a car near the village of Beit al-Ahmar in the Sanhan region, 15 kilometres (nine miles) southeast of Sanaa. Among the dead was Adnan al-Qadhi, a former jihadist fighter in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda member wanted for a 2008 car bomb attack on the US embassy that killed six Yemeni soldiers and four civilians.

After a decade of willful ignorance, the US starts tying AQ attacks to the former regime, probably in search of evidence for sanctions:

Yemen Fox: Mareb Press cited diplomat sources as saying that the US Embassy in Sana’a exerts efforts in collecting and documenting many terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda and in which former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was found involved, most important the bombing the US Embassy in Sana’a in 2008. The sources said that the Americans have evidences that some with close links to Saleh’s family are involved in that operation, as US investigations showed that cars used in the terrorist attack were purchased by people close to Saleh’s family, specifically from Sanhan.

Better summary of the relationship

Nasser Arrabyee: The drone- killed Al Qadi was general in Yemeni army

By Nasser Arrabyee,07/11/2012

Adnan Al Qadi, Al Qaeda operative killed by US drone Wednesday, was a lieutenant colonel in the Yemeni army before he joined Al Qaeda, said sources Thursday.

Adnan Al Qadi was working as a commander of brigade in Al Makha under the leadership of Saleh Al Dani, a retired general who is now working with the defected general Ali Muhsen. All of them are from one village called Sanahan, the same village of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Adnan Al Qadi and Aref Al Qadi, were arrested after the bombing of the US embassy in Sanaa late 2008 for being involved. Aref is a nephew of brigadier Abdullah Al Qadi, retired general from Sanhan. Both of them were released secretly because of influence of their fathers and sympathy of general Muhsen.

Recently, Aref Al Qadi, raised the flag of Al Qaeda over his house in village of Bait Al Ahmar, the village of all conflicting guys, according to local sources.

The slain Adnan Al Qadi was one of the mediators between the Yemeni government and slain Sheikh Tarik Al Dhahab, Al Qaeda leader in Radaa last year according to Al Qaeda specialist journalist, Abdul Razak Al Jamal who met Al Qadi and most of the Al Qaeda leaders..On Wednesday November 6th, 2012, a US drone hit a car in the area of Al Nasrin in Sanahan, 30km south east of the capital Sanaa, killing Adnan Al Qadi and two others identified as Rabee Laheb, and Redwan Al Hashidi. Some sources said that the latter two were only injured..

Related: “‏@adammbaron abdulrazak jamal interviewed Adnan alQadhi, target of sanhan drone strike, before his death.” Had the black flag on his roof and door?

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.”

Study: disrupting recruitment more important than targeting leadership

Filed under: Counter-terror, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 5:18 pm on Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meh, maybe if we exempt bomb makers. Thwarting recruitment doesn’t get much or enough attention as an vital CT strategy, its always tomorrow’s problem.

Balt Sun: U.S. counterterrorism efforts monitor and sort vast databases of information for clues on potential plots. Now a team of University of Maryland researchers have used data-mining techniques employed by online giants like Google and Amazon.com to aid in the fight against terror.

In the same way corporate America uses algorithms to predict what consumers are most likely to buy or what ads they might click, the researchers analyzed two decades of data on Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. They were looking for patterns around attacks, including the 2008 shootings and bombings in Mumbai that some compare to the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.

The study found that the most effective means of thwarting such violence include stirring dissension within the terrorist group, promoting government crackdowns on its activity and thwarting recruitment efforts — not arresting or attacking the group’s leaders.

The research has implications for current counterterrorism efforts, its authors say, and could give insight into other terror networks and how to best prevent future attacks.

Pres Hadi on US drones: more precise than the Yemeni Air Force

Filed under: Counter-terror, Sana'a, Saudi Arabia, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 5:04 pm on Saturday, September 29, 2012

Drone strikes are an improvement from aging and imprecise Soviet aircraft in the Yemeni air force, said Hadi, and that’s indisputable. (Why Saleh poured millions on the decrepit MIGs is another story.) Hadi, like Obama, personally approves all strikes in advance.

President Hadi was the only foreign leader that Obama actually had a meeting with, and the US considers him much more reliable than Saleh, not a high threshold to beat. Hadi said there are more controls that should reduce or hopefully eliminate errors and civilian casualties which are the primary concern among Yemenis and others. With 33 airstrikes this year, and 10 last year, the ratio of the death of innocents has dropped substantially, if we use the US metric that every male over 16 killed in a drone strike is assumed a terrorist and legitimate target.

Those in Yemen like HOOD who continually decry a loss of Yemeni sovereignty over its airspace should be reassured, but probably won’t be, by Hadi’s comments that he retains control. Those who see the air strikes as the harbinger of an impending US invasion are disconnected from reality and/or engaging in incitement and wouldn’t be swayed by any facts or adjustments to the program. The Houthis consider the Youtube trailer for the 2002 movie Rules of Engagement to be an CIA blueprint of some sort, really. Its a phrase to be avoided.

NYT: President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, elected in a one-candidate election in February, said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars that the precision afforded by drones gave them a marked advantage over the aging Soviet aircraft in the Yemeni Air Force.

“They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at,” said Mr. Hadi, a former army officer and the successor to Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down after protests against his three-decade rule.

The United States “helped with their drones because the Yemeni Air Force cannot carry out missions at night,” he said. “The electronic brain’s precision is unmatched by the human brain.” —

On Tuesday, President Obama underscored America’s gratitude to Mr. Hadi by dropping by as the Yemeni president met in New York with John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism adviser. While Mr. Obama spoke briefly with several heads of state at a reception during the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Mr. Hadi was the only one singled out for a meeting.

CT center in Sanaa includes Oman, SA, US and Yemeni reps

WAPO: Yemen’s president said Saturday that he personally approves every U.S. drone strike in his country and described the remotely piloted aircraft as a technical marvel that has helped reverse al-Qaeda’s gains.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi also provided new details about the monitoring of counterterrorism missions from a joint operations center in Yemen that he said is staffed by military and intelligence personnel from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Oman…

Hadi’s comments mark the first time he has publicly acknowledged his direct role in a campaign of strikes by U.S. drones and conventional aircraft targeting an al-Qaeda franchise that is seen as the most potent terrorist threat to the United States.

“Every operation, before taking place, they take permission from the president,” Hadi said in an interview with reporters and editors from The Washington Post. Praising the accuracy of the remotely operated aircraft, he added, “The drone technologically is more advanced than the human brain.”

Hadi’s enthusiasm helps to explain how, since taking office in February after a popular revolt ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule, he has come to be regarded by Obama administration officials as one of the United States’ staunchest counterterrorism allies.

In a sign of Hadi’s standing, he was greeted by President Obama during meetings at the United Nations in New York last week and has met with a parade of top administration officials in Washington, including Vice President Biden, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The pace of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen has surged during the past year, as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula gained territory in the southern part of the country and continued to mount attacks against the United States, according to U.S. officials who said they disrupted an airline bomb plot earlier this year that originated in Yemen.

The U.S. Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA have carried out 33 airstrikes in Yemen this year, compared to 10 in 2011, according to the Long War Journal Web site, which tracks drone attacks.

In the interview, Hadi alluded to civilian casualties and errant strikes earlier in the campaign, which began in December 2009, but he said that the United States and Yemen have taken “multiple measures to avoid mistakes of the past.”

He also described a joint operations facility near Sanaa, the capital, that serves as an intelligence nerve center for operations against AQAP, as the terrorist group’s Yemeni affiliate is known. “You go to the operations center and see operations taking place step by step,” Hadi said.

U.S. Special Operations drones patrol Yemen from a base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. The CIA aircraft are flown from a separate facility on the Arabian Peninsula whose location has not been publicly disclosed.

Good news from Yemen: Ali al Ansi’s last day as head of National Security, updates

Filed under: Biographies, Counter-terror, Ministries, Security Forces — by Jane Novak at 5:26 am on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The National Security was created in 2002 at the prompting of the US because the PSO was so corrupt and subverted. Ali al Ansi was the head of Saleh’s presidential office since the 1980’s. Today is Al Ansi’s last day, AlMasdar reports. Its great news.

The new head of the Natl Sec is Dr. Hassan Al Ahmedi who was the governor of Shabwa and has a background in economics. Maybe since he is not connected to the security establishment, he’s do a good job. Or at least look at allocating resources in a rational way that addresses the intended function of the National Security. No one could do worse than al Ansi who controlled the airport and had a habit of pulling journos and activists off the plane on their way to international conferences but let the terrorists board.

More good news: Hadi to appoint 29 new ambassadors and refuses to split the posts between the GPC and JMP. Woot. Hyper-politicalization in Yemen is one root of fractures, stalemate and corruption.

ChiTrib:SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen will investigate alleged human rights violations that occurred during an uprising last year, officials said on Wednesday, possibly opening the way to prosecution of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his relatives.

Saleh and his immediate family obtained immunity from prosecution under Yemeni law under a U.S.-backed deal sponsored by Yemen’s Gulf neighbors last year in return for the veteran president’s departure from office. He stepped down in February.

Thousands of protesters have demanded that the immunity be scrapped. The cabinet decision to set up a committee of inquiry followed months of wrangling within the government.

“The committee is responsible for probing the allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that occurred in 2011, impartially and independently,” state news agency Saba said.

A government official, who asked not to be named, said the decision emerged from an intense, five-month-long debate in the cabinet, which is divided between members of Saleh’s party and his opponents as stipulated by the power transfer deal.

“It was a fight in the cabinet,” he said, adding that the outcome was partly due to a “big push” by the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Jamal bin Omar.

The official said the inquiry would investigate whether criminal charges over deaths and injuries could be pressed. It would be complemented by a transitional justice law which parliament could pass this month.

Saleh’s successor, Abd-Rabbu Hadi, was expected to issue a decree setting up the inquiry this month, the official said.

Link dump:
CNN: In Yemen, protests mask diverse views on anti-Islam video

Wharton: Interview w/ Taiz governor formerly of of Hayel Saed Anam Inc, In Yemen, a Different Kind of Battle: Getting People Trained and Finding Good Bureaucrats

Feierstein says US will not grant visa to Saleh during current period, and he should be exiled or remain out of politics at least. Since when? I can pull up interview after interview where Feierstein he says (rather defensively or dismissively if I recall) the dictator can Saleh can stay in Yemen and is certainly welcome remain active in politics like any citizen. Mareb Press: the Embassy that the U.S. government had informed the former president Ali Saleh that it can not grant a visa to enter the U.S. territory during the current period. Gerald considered that the colossal mistake committed by the drafters of the Gulf initiative not demanding former President Saleh to leave political life.

Saba: Hadi to DC NY September 27, I am happy to welcome a Yemeni president to the United States in my lifetime. If he was going to be at the embassy, I’d send flowers.

RE the following: There’s a term used to describe diplomats who lose objectivity, “going native”. It describes Former Ambassador Barbara Bodine and her bias in favor of the Saleh regime during her term, and after, and perhaps Ambassador Feierstein as well. In their case though it could be called “going tribal”. The following is written by Iona Craige:

Foreign Policy Mag: Then, without so much as a raised hand from the soldiers, protesters walked straight though the gaps between the yellow and black striped blocks. Like a gentleman holding a door open for a lady, the soldiers, with their AK-47s slung over their shoulders, stepped back, letting the chanting mob through. And as the angry mob marched further towards the embassy building itself the soldiers walked with them, some even smiling.

Yemen’s Central Security Forces, created by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, remain under the command of his nephew Brig. Gen. Yahya Saleh, who enjoyed a warm relationship with the U.S. embassy here in Sanaa for years. The U.S.-trained and funded counterterrorism troops also fell under his command. The relationship had been a necessary close one in America’s strategy to combat the country’s notorious al Qaeda network.

On the day this February when his uncle handed over power to the country’s new president, Abdu Rabu Mansu Hadi, at the presidential palace, Yahya and U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein greeted each other like old friends. With laughter and a firm, lingering handshake, they clasped each other’s elbows in the midst of a packed room of dignitaries and a throng of domestic and international media. (Read on …)

Private weapons shipment to Ali Mohsen in Yemen

Filed under: Counter-terror, Hodeidah, Military, Ports, smuggling — by Jane Novak at 8:29 am on Sunday, September 16, 2012

This arms shipment could have come from anywhere, from China to the US, now that the State Department has lifted the embargo on commercial arms sales to Yemen. The weapons were unloaded by Ali Mohsen, one of the main power centers during the former regime that should be becoming weaker in the new one.

The Yemeni black market on weapons is a vital economic sector that supplies AQAP, al Shabab, the Houthis and any armed group without distinction. Its going to be Fast and Furious on steroids when al Qaeda in Yemen or Somalia uses US weapons during a terror attack. And if the US is going to allow private sales in order arm to the southern militias that are fighting al Qaeda, there has to be a better conduit than Ali Mohsen.

The Link: Sources said that about 20 days ago a ship loaded with weapons NES to Minaoualhdidh, and unloaded the ship onto military trucks. The same source said the ship was unloaded under the direct supervision of Ali Mohsen, where he take to Hodeidah himself and eagerness that did not know one visit. Sources said that trucks loaded with weapons headed to places belonging to the First Armored Division on a number of nearby provinces there and dump all weapons in those places. There are other sources stating that the arms shipment came in favor of the so-called Army of the Revolution that is collected illegally now to include plotted against Ansar Allah in Saada (the Houthis), the Link believes.

Yemeni officially withdraws claim of death of AQAP #2 Saed al Shihri’s

Filed under: Yemen's Lies, obits, personalities — by Jane Novak at 6:13 pm on Friday, September 14, 2012

Shocka! DNA shows its not al Shihiri who was originally reported as killed on 9/10/12 in an air strike in Hadramout: al Masdar:

Yemeni Interior Min has no info confirming death of AQAP #2 Saed al Shahri

Filed under: Air strike, Military, obits, personalities — by Jane Novak at 3:09 pm on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dagnabbit. In an interview in the Saudi Okaz, the Yemeni Interior Minister says he has no info on whether AQAP #2 al Shihiri was killed, and he says to ask the Defense Ministry. Meanwhile AQAP denies he’s dead, and confirms Ahmed al-Daradish and Albatar al-Baydani were killed and the terrorists are usually much more accurate than the Yemeni govt in this situation, unfortunately.

Its quite possible the US media was spun again, just in time for the 9/11 anniversary, as they have been many times before. I thought it was way too quick for all the al Shihri obits, because the Yemeni Defense Ministry has released total disinformation time and time and time again, see my earlier post. I don’t know if hes dead or not, but I wouldn’t count on it. Its the fifth time he’s been announced as killed or captured. So its more likely that al-Daradish and al-Baydani were killed in yesterday’s strike and Al-Shihri is still alive, but really its too early to know.

al Masdar:

Yemeni Interior Minister skeptical of information killed Qaeda’s second-in-Said al-Shihri (Read on …)

Hadi appoints new head of National Security following assassination attempt on Defense Minister

Filed under: Biographies, Counter-terror, Oil, Presidency, Sana'a, al Jawf, al-Bayda, assassination, security timeline, shabwa — by Jane Novak at 8:08 am on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ali al Ansi finally deposed, thats a good move, full list new appts below:

Hadi Fires Senior Security Chiefs, Picks New Governors, Presidency Officials

Yemen’s President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi sacked senior security chiefs and picked new governors and presidency officials on Tuesday night after the defense minister escaped a car bombing at the cabinet HQ in downtown the capital Sanaa.
Among the fired chiefs were heads of the national security system and intelligence systems who have been seen as very close to the former president Saleh.
Previous governor of Shabwa, Ali Al-Ahmadi, became the new chief of the national security and ,Hassan Al-Yafe, a former defense ministry officer, the new chief of the intelligence system.
Hadi also named new ministers for oil and higher education and five new governors for Sanaa, Jawf, Amran, Shabwa and Baidha.
Furthermore, he appointed Nasr Taha Mustafa, the former head of Saba agency, the new manager for the president’s office and ,Mansour bin Safaa, as the secretary general at the office.
The appointments came shortly after the defense minister, Muhammad Nasser Ahmed, survived a deadly car bombing while leaving the cabinet’s weekly meeting.
12 people including 7 of the minister’s bodyguards were killed and 12 others injured, some seriously, in the attack.
In the meantime, the Yemeni people plan to stage a massive demonstration to condemn terrorist attacks and violence and to announce their support to the decisions and efforts of Hadi.


President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi issued the following decrees:

1. Engineer Hesham Sharaf, appointed Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research (Mr. Hesham was the Former Minister of Oil and he replaced Dr. Yahya Al-shoebi who resigned from his post).

2. Engineer Ahmed Abdullah Dares prompted from the post of a Vice to the Minister of Oil and Minerals.
(Read on …)

AQAP’s Saed Al Shihri killed in Yemen?

Filed under: Hadramout, Pres Hadi, obits, personalities, security timeline — by Jane Novak at 10:47 am on Monday, September 10, 2012

Update: Two US officials confirm. Update 2: Interior Ministry has no info, may be another disinformation job on the US media.

Original: Interesting. Frequently through the years, at politically sensitive moments like before 9/11 or USS Cole anniversaries, the Yemeni government announces a major CT coup that turns out later to be false. So time will tell on this one. Its the fourth fifth time that the Yemeni DOD has announced Saed al Shihri was killed. The fourth time al Shihri was reported killed was Feb 2011, at the outset of the rev against the Saleh regime. It could be true though. There’s somewhat better odds since its a US drone strike, but then again the US is far from infallible as the recent airstrike on a minibus of civilians demonstrates. The minibus was following the targeted vehicle in al Baydah.

From the 26 Sept: Saeed al-Shihri, who was the Saudi national and the second in command of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was killed on Tuesday in a qualitative operation carried out by the security forces in Wadi Hadramout, a senior official told 26 September Net. The official said that six al-Qaeda leaders accompanying him were also killed.

AP: SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni officials say an airstrike has killed al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader in Yemen along with five others traveling with him in one car.

The Defense Ministry officials say Monday’s attack killed the deputy, Saudi national Saeed al-Shihri, as he left a house in the southern Hadramawt province.

They say the missile was believed to have been fired by a U.S. operated drone. The U.S. doesn’t usually comment on such attacks but has used drones in the past to go after al-Qaida members in Yemen.

Related: Yemeni President Hadi says the government officials help al Qaeda. Good, its true and has been true for more than a decade:

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s president says some tribal chiefs and government officials are helping al-Qaida fighters hide after the military defeated the militants in the country’s south.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi says “there are tribal chiefs and senior officials who are covering-up for al-Qaida figures” in Abyan and Shabwa provinces and “impeding security measures to arrest them.”

Hadi spoke to lawmakers and senior officials Sunday night. He did not name any suspects.

Related: Ansar al Sharia update from the Yemen Times:

ABYAN — The People’s Committees and security apparatuses in Abyan governorate are continuing operations to track Ansar Al-Sharia (AAS) affiliates in Abyan to terminate violence and install security.

Ali Abdu, spokesman for the People’s Committees, said on Saturday, the group, backed by security forces, held a large campaign to pursue AAS militants—who are affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—in Shoqra and the controlled Al-Kalasi Mountain. Moreover, They patrolled Moneeb Valley and sent the militants out. (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 …)

“Al Qaeda reiterates the September 11 tragedy in Yemen”

Filed under: Counter-terror, Islamic Imirate, Sana'a, Tribes, attacks — by Jane Novak at 5:24 pm on Saturday, July 28, 2012

A tragic essay published by Hour News, the original Arabic below, outlines many of the disasters that Al Qaeda has wrought on Yemen, directly and indirectly. I believe the article is in response to the awful and deliberate murder of a 12 year old boy with a package bomb, that sad article is also below:

Newspapers and magazines — “This report for publication”

Al Qaeda in Yemen declares war on the citizens, and reiterates the September 11 tragedy in Yemen, “the report”

Abdul Karim Hazmi

Al Qaeda in Yemen war on Yemeni citizens in general as well as its war against the government for the establishment of an Islamic state as they called them.

It is noticeable in this war-Qaeda in Yemen that the only loser is the people of Yemen, a victim, a target of this war, economically and militarily.

Since the takeover in the province of Abyan war killed tens of innocent victims of the citizens and the displacement of thousands of them in order to establish the rule of the Islamic state in the nation, forgetting that they are all Muslims and citizens united to God is not a partner, was the victim of most of them innocent civilians. (Read on …)

Yemenis protest in Sanaa for dismissal of President’s son as security cheif

Filed under: Civil Unrest, Counter-terror, Military, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 11:56 am on Friday, July 27, 2012

More videos on the protest in front of Hadi’s home calling to resign Saleh’s family from their posts

Yemen intel chief’s disinfo in cadet attack

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Ministries, Yemen, suicide attacks — by Jane Novak at 5:06 am on Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yemen president launches investigation into cadet attack 14/07/2012

The Yemini Interior Ministry announced that president Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi has formed an investigative committee in order to probe regarding a bombing in Sana’a that killed 10 police cadets this week after the panel misidentified the bomber, media reported on Friday. (Read on …)

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.

AQAP’s Ibrahim al Banna plans to take over al Mukallah, Hadramout, Yemen?

Filed under: Hadramout, Islamic Imirate, obits — by Jane Novak at 7:03 am on Friday, March 9, 2012

Yemen Post: Yemen’s interior Ministry has disclosed on Wednesday that Al-Qaeda has a “terrorist” plan to attack Al-Mukallh of Hadhramout governorate with the aim of declaring it as an Islamic Emirate.

In its website, it said that 300 of Al-Qaeda operatives including three leaders, Ibraheem Al-Bana’a, Egyptian Nationa, Qasim Al-Raimi, and Shaker Hamel were planning to attack strategic government facilities, military and security camps.

This Ibrahim al Banna? ( http://armiesofliberation.com/?s=ibrahim+al+banna) The undead, previously arrested, tried & convicted somehow free again long time al Qaeda operative? You can just keep clicking the links and trackbacks from post to post. I’m too tired. Supposedly Ibrahim the Egyptian was arrested in Hadramout in 2008 (after the lethal January ambush of a Belgium tourist convoy in Shibam), tried in 2010, and killed in 2011, but then he wasn’t dead after all and it turned out that many of the 21 charged with the terrorist murder of the two elderly female tourists and two Yemeni guides were convicted in absentia.

Qasim al Reimi is also among the repeatedly undead; declared as killed by the Yemeni government at least three separate times although he remains very much alive. Shaker Hamel was arrested and tried with al Banna and apparently is still hanging out with him. Cozy.

(My Ibrahim al Banna search also returned Jaber Elbaneh results but that’s the Lackawanna NYer/al Farouk grad who we haven’t heard from lately. His is another bizarre story that would almost be funny except he’s al Qaeda.)

Observations in Jaar, Dofus attack, Aden Research Ctr paper, southern questions, AQAP obit

Filed under: Abyan, Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Islamic Imirate, Yemen, attacks, personalities — by Jane Novak at 6:56 am on Friday, March 9, 2012

The following article is in part a sociological sketch, with interviews and observations of the al Qaeda occupation of Jaar. One interesting point is that among the first tier of leaders are many bitter ex-prisoners of the political security organization. One was tortured and forced to eat from the toileting bowl; his crime was attempting to go to Iraq to fight US forces there. “He added: «I thought the Jews and the Christians were the only ones who should have jihad against them (but) if our fellow Yemenis are cursing God and apply electricity for trivial reasons». He is currently living the best days of his life in Abyan with his brothers «Mujahideen»”

There’s also a reasonable profile of new publicity hound and Prince Abu Hamza, and his depiction of AQAP’s provision of social services, basic needs and “justice.” So far they executed eight Saudis accused of spying, three people have had their hands chopped off. The authors note the Al Qaeda “court” considers defense lawyers irrelevant. Tobacco, qat, alcohol and all smoking is prohibited. “The “popular satisfaction left by those acts and policies (ed- bountiful gas, water and electricity) of some residents of Jaar are offset by resentment at the vast majority of the population of those areas.” They consider Khalidabdul Nabi a Saleh operative, and fought his operatives before gaining control.

The original article is is here and the GT is below. Following that is a GT’d research paper by the Aden Research Center about al Qaeda, then an AP article on the AQAP statement of responsibility, a YT round-up of the Dofus attack and a random southern comment on the whole scenario. (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

Potshots at US trainers in Aden, bombing at Saada rally, protests in Sanaa, Yemen

Filed under: 3 security, Aden, Counter-terror, Sa'ada, Saada War, Sana'a, Security Forces — by Jane Novak at 9:29 pm on Friday, March 2, 2012

Reuters: – A gunman opened fire on a U.S. security team as it trained Yemeni soldiers in the south of the country, the Pentagon and a security official said on Friday, both denying reports from an Islamist group that a CIA officer was killed in the assault.

In the north of the country, a bomb blast hit an anti-U.S. protest, injuring at least 22 people, a rebel group that controls much of the region said. (Read on …)

America’s Dangerous Game: a video

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, photos/gifs — by Jane Novak at 6:58 pm on Friday, March 2, 2012

America’s Dangerous Game a video by Jeremy Scahill at AJE, “This film reveals the full scale of Washington’s covert war in Yemen and asks: Is the US creating more enemies than it can capture or kill?”

A good, coherent presentation and analysis that follows up Scahill’s earlier article. It makes the point that no matter how many leaders are killed (and the US doesn’t really know who its killing with the drones), if the corrupt, nepotistic, despotic regime remains, there won’t real progress. The vid also makes the valid and previously contentious point that there is a symbiotic relationship between the intelligence services and the terrorists, which is a step beyond the (finally) widely accepted premise of Yemen’s ruling family manipulating the terrorist threat for profit and international support.

US counter-terror policy failure in Yemen

Filed under: Counter-terror — by Jane Novak at 10:03 am on Saturday, February 18, 2012

Another excellent report (besides Scahill’s Washington’s War in Yemen Backfires ) on US CT failure in Yemen, Recipe for Failure at Critical Threats.org:

“Saleh’s reach extended throughout the state’s organs, making it nearly impossible to disentangle his patronage network from the actual state. In this respect, Saleh’s Yemen was much more like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq than like Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, in which the military retained a considerable degree of autonomy.[1]…

Even the Saleh-controlled Yemeni state was already failing before the revolution, moreover, as the government attempted to juggle interrelated socioeconomic and security challenges. Yemen’s unemployment rate was already over 40 percent and over half of its population is illiterate…

The (US) strategy of pursuing political appeasement in order to build an ordered Yemeni state able to reconsolidate control and combat terrorists does not so far appear to be very promising…

Like American diplomats, U.S. policy apart from direct-action operations is thus now largely confined to the capital.[10] American soft-power efforts have historically channeled almost entirely through the central government at Saleh’s insistence.

It is far from clear that American strategy toward Yemen as it was operating before 2011 would have been successful. But the tools of that strategy have been severely degraded even as the threats and challenges have grown. This growing divergence between means and ends demands a fundamental re-evaluation of American strategy toward Yemen, but there does not appear to have been any such re-evaluation. The Obama administration has not articulated a shift in American strategy in Yemen since the outbreak of the Arab Spring and the general contours of U.S. policy have not changed. The current approach could conceivably succeed nevertheless, but only if a large number of improbable assumptions prove to be valid…

Until the U.S. government recognizes that its current approach is nearly certain to fail, it will not put the necessary energy into crafting a new one.

Its important to grasp the basic structure before you make the plan.

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