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 …)

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.”

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 …)

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 …)

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 …)

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.

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.

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:

US cannot increase drone use in Yemen without providing shelter for civilians

Filed under: Abyan, Aden, Air strike, Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, GCC, South Yemen, USA, Yemen, shabwa — by Jane Novak at 6:43 pm on Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yemenis are fleeing (not joining) al Qaeda where ever they appear. However the vast majority of civilians lack the funds to rent an apartment or to buy food once they leave their farms and possessions behind to be looted by AQAP. But if they stay, they are subject to both al Qaeda dictatorship and US drones. The US may label those who don’t flee as collateral damage or as providing material support (as the Bedouins were in the Dec 2009 US strike in Abyan that killed 43 women and children when General Patraeus implied they were acceptable deaths because they selling vegetable to AQAP, despite the fact the villagers had appealed twice to local authorities to expel the group.)

Certainly AQAP bears the responsibility for sheltering in populated areas in the first place but people in the al Qaeda occupied territories of Yemen want to know where the refugee camps are. Seriously, where are they supposed to go? And it is a US problem when an al Qaeda presence means the potential of US drone strikes. The 120,000 who fled Zinjibar last May are still in the schools of Aden. I know Yemenis’ rights are very low on Obama’s priority list, but there must be a part of the plan to increase US drone use that will deal with the public panic and mass displacement that will occur as US drones follow AQ from province to province threatening people’s lives and homes. Over 15,000 fled Raada within days of Tariq al Dhahab’s (and al Wahishi’s) appearance. They were escaping both the al Qaeda fanaticism and the threat of US drones.

While the Obama administration may try to maintain the myth in the US that they know exactly who they are hitting, and its always a precise targeting, the non-lethal impact on civilians must be considered as well. The US is playing right into al Qaedas hands with nearly every policy from the re-imposition of a dictatorship through the GCC deal to Saleh’s visit to increased drones. The US is focused on vulnerable land when it should be focused on vulnerable people.

Basically, the US is going to bomb Yemen in order to pull off an uncontested election that nobody wants (except the US, the GPC and Islah elites) in the interest of “stability.” If the expired parliament gave Saleh immunity, it can appoint Hadi. The bogus show election isn’t worth more Yemeni lives or the displacement of tens of thousands, and it certainly wont confer legitimacy when there’s only one candidate that was selected by the US. The most politically disenfranchised are going to boycott anyway: civil minded protesters, southerners and Houthis.

The National: Yemen will increasingly rely on US drone strikes to target Islamist militants threatening to disrupt a transfer of power this month, Yemeni government officials said.

The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is meant to hand over power to his vice president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, on February 22.

The run up to the transfer is being overshadowed by growing protests, including within the military, which have grounded Yemen’s air force across much of the country.

Two aides in Mr Hadi’s office said they expected a rise in drone attacks against Al Qaeda militants.

The strikes will be intensified only if necessary, to ensure that militant groups do not expand in vulnerable areas, said one of the aides. Both asked to remain anonymous. (Read on …)

Yemen strike and Obama on drones

Filed under: Air strike, Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, USA, Yemen, obits — by Jane Novak at 7:43 am on Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is Abdul Munim al Fathani, a relative of Saad al Fathani, killed in a Christmas eve drone strike in 2009?

Its absurd that US officials are using al Fathani’s connection to the USS Cole bombing as justification for the drone attack when Fahd al Quso and Jamal al Badawi walked out of Yemeni prison in 2007, pardoned by Saleh after less than three years in jail, and the US knew where they were- at home. In 2009, Al Quso was put on the Most Wanted Terrorist list.

BBC: However, tribal leaders told the AFP news agency that a control post and a school hosting a midnight meeting of local al-Qaeda chiefs and fighters were targeted in four overnight raids.

Abdul Munim al-Fathani, who was reportedly wanted by the US for alleged links to the attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 and a French oil tanker in 2002, was among the dead, they said.

“We think they were carried out by American planes,” one tribal source told AFP, on condition of anonymity and without elaborating.

al Shawa: Alsahwah.net- US drones killed on Monday night nine Al-Qaeda suspects in the southern city of Abyan.

The sources said that two drones shelled several positions in Loder and Al-Wodaia districts of Abyan.

Three of the raids targeted a school in which Al Qaeda fighters and chiefs of a local militant network were meeting around midnight.

Among the people killed was regional Al Qaeda leader Abdul Monem al Fahtani, who has long been sought by the Yemeni authorities, and other local chiefs.

Obama tries to pretend they know who they are targeting. How careful can you be when you rely on the thoroughly compromised Yemeni CT intel? Have the strikes really killed more terrorists than civilians in Yemen? We’d have to start with the 43 civilians killed in Abyan 2009 and count from there, but the US doesn’t know exactly who they are targeting and killing, for example Sheikh Shabwani in May.

USA Today: President Obama is defending his use of unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere, saying they have been used to kill more terrorists than civilians.

“I want to make sure that people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties,” Obama said during a forum with YouTube and Google-plus. “For the most part, they have been very precise, precision strikes against al- Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied.” (Read on …)

Al Wahishi survives US attack on al Fahdli farm; AQ confirms death of Wahishi nephew

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, Yemen, fahd, obits, personalities — by Jane Novak at 6:42 am on Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Existing of cooperation with military commanders and al-Qaeda in Yemen3/1/2012
Sources affirmed to YemenOnline that the two cities of Abyan province ,Zanzibar and Jaar, still under control of al Qaeda, which is now becoming controlled also on the line that links between Abyan and Shabwa and another between Abyan and Marib, confirming the existence of cooperation with military figures in the Yemeni army and arms dealers are known, as you get them on the weapons of a very sophisticated , and in return provide them with information. (Read on …)

Naif al Kahtani killed again in Yemen

Filed under: Air strike, Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, obits — by Jane Novak at 12:21 am on Saturday, November 19, 2011

YT: SANAA, Nov. 13 — At least six Al-Qaeda members were killed in an aerial raid on Saturday in Zinjibar, Abyan, a southern governorate and a stronghold of the terrorist group.

Naif Al-Qahtani of Saudi Arabia was named as one of the six killed in the raid by the Yemeni army in the north of Zinjibar.

Three other Al-Qaeda members were killed in an ambush by armed tribesmen allying the Yemeni army in the north east of Al-Taria in Zinjibar.

Official sources claimed that Al-Qaeda members have been coming from the Horn of Africa and east Asia, according to the UPL news website.

Despite the fact that news outlets have been talking about the “seizing of Zinjibar” by Islamists since May, Al-Qaeda experts in Yemen said that state soldiers withdrew on purpose to give militants a chance to settle in the area.

According to an Al-Qaeda expert who preferred not to be named, “the whole Al-Qaeda story has no reality and it is only made up by the government”.

The aerial shelling by the Yemeni government and the US, coupled with the conflict between militants and tribesmen in Zinjibar has caused more than 30,000 citizens to flee their home to live in Aden’s schools and other places.

Other critics accused President Ali Abdullah Saleh of allowing the militants to take over districts in the south such as Zinjibar in Abyan to support the view that without him, Yemen would become a stronghold of Al-Qaeda.

Lacking intel, US drones unidentitified groups of suspected terrorists

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 8:43 am on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This article from the Air Force Times deals with the Horn of Africa and uses examples from 2004 but applies to present day Yemen as well.

AFT

Despite leading a six-person human intelligence team with responsibility for the Horn of Africa — and with Ethiopia a priority — (Marine Capt. Rye Barcott) Barcott had no idea what the man was talking about…
The conversation ended quickly, but Barcott’s interpreter wasn’t ready to let the matter lie. “Afterwards he’s like, ‘Listen, the Dergue was the communist regime that ran this place. … Everybody knows the Dergue. Come on, these are very basic things.’ ”

The exchange in Gode happened in 2004. The chastened Barcott had run head first into one of the major problems that plagued U.S. operations in the Horn of Africa in the years after 9/11: the lack of a basic understanding of the region among the personnel charged with operating there.

“At that time, DoD had f—- all in terms of HUMINT in the Horn,” said an intelligence source with long experience in the region.

“At a very fundamental level, we simply lacked that baseline that we needed,” said a military targeting official. “We didn’t understand the culture, we didn’t understand the people … in a real sense we didn’t understand the players and how they related in the various organizations inside the various cities in the Horn.” — (Read on …)

Awlaki’s son death in US drone strike provokes outrage in Yemen

Filed under: Air strike, Marib, airliner, anwar, obits, shabwa — by Jane Novak at 11:57 am on Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Yemeni-American teenager is widely perceived in Yemen as an innocent, and therefore his death in a US drone strike is causing mass outrage on a level much, much greater than that of his father. There is a birth certificate showing he was 16 at the time of his death, and many photos have been posted. Like the December 2009 strikes, its the civilian casualties of US drone strikes that provoke mass public outrage. Yemeni would have liked to see some evidence on Awlaki or better yet, to bring him to trial. But killing his teen-age son, or any innocent teen, is way over the top of acceptable counter-terror collateral damage, Yemenis say.

Yemen Post According to the al-Awlaki family back in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, Abdul rahman al-Awlaki, the cleric’s son would have run away from home after news of his father’s death in a desperate bid to find him. The 17 year-old was killed subsequently in an American air raid this Friday. Outraged, his family is now speaking out against what they call a murder.

The family’s statements to the WaPo is here. His family says he ran away from home and was having a picnic when the drone hit. However what he was doing with known terrorist Ibrahim al Banaa and Fahd al Quso’s brother is unknown and not raised in the article.

Related: I posted this below but it belongs in a drone-related post: Marib Press Tribes in Marib issued a statement saying Sheikh Saleh al Taaman was killed in the air rad with Ibrahim al Banaa but not reported killed by the regime. The Sheikh was connected to the state’s security policy and paid by Ghalib al Qamish (PSO) 100K YR/month; tribesmen accuse the regime of the manipulating the terror file and US CT ops to retain power. They say the Sheikh was not listed among the dead and that’s reason to ignore the regime’s fatality lists.

AQAP Egyptian Ibrahim al Banaa killed by drone in Yemen, Balhaf pipeline hit

Filed under: Air strike, Al-Qaeda, Iraq, LNG, TI: External, obits — by Jane Novak at 6:46 am on Saturday, October 15, 2011

The seven AQAP killed in Azzam, Shabwa included Egyptian Ibrahim al Banna who was among 28 arrested in Hadramout in 2008. The group was put on trial in 2010 for forming an armed gang; seven of the 28 were tried in absentia and its unclear whether al Banna still was in custody or not. An article written at the time of the trial ties him to Iraqi al Qaeda. Also killed in the strike were Anwar al Awlaki’s son and cousin, the ABC article notes. A June drone strike in the same area killed Abu al Harithy Jr. of the Zarchawi cell that admitted fighting in Iraq and was tried in 2006; the court accepted their defense argument that jihad is a duty in occupied Muslim lands. Update: Tribal leaders said that Farhan al Quso also was killed in the attack. He is the brother of Fahd Mohammed al-Quso, a particularly elusive Al Qaeda fugitive who helped plan the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole attack.

WaPo: Yemeni officials familiar with the U.S. military drive against al-Qaida in Yemen said a shift of strategy by the Americans was finally yielding results, with human assets on the ground directly providing actionable intelligence to U.S. commanders rather than relying entirely on Yemen’s security agencies the Americans had long considered inefficient or even suspected of leaking word on planned operations. They said there were as many as 3,000 informers on the U.S. payroll around the country — some without even knowing it.

The terrorists targeted a pipeline in Shabwa carrying LNG from Marib to Balhaf in retaliation.

ABC The head of the media department of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been killed in a trio of US air strikes on militant outposts in Yemen, and gunmen retaliated by blowing up a gas export pipeline.

The death of Ibrahim al-Banna, an Egyptian described by Yemeni officials as high on their wanted list, is a fresh blow to the Islamist group regarded by Washington as the most serious threat to the United States, following the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki last month…The ministry confirmed al-Banna was among seven suspected Al Qaeda militants killed, adding that he was wanted “internationally” for “planning attacks both inside and outside Yemen.”

Al-Banna was “in charge of the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” and was one of the group’s “most dangerous operatives,” it added….

Residents and officials said the 322-kilometre pipeline, which links gas fields in Maarib, east of Sanaa, to a $US4.5 billion Total-led liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, was blown up soon after the raids.

Sources at Total told Reuters the pipeline was blown up in two places, stopping the gas supplies that feed the Belhaf LNG plant. Witnesses said the flames were visible from several kilometres away.

Early Saturday, a local security official told Xinhua that a pipeline carrying gas from Marib to liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Balhaf port was blown up in Shabwa province.”The targeted gas pipeline located in Rodhoum area, a few miles away from the location of the French giant TOTAL-led Yemeni LNG Company in Balhaf port in southeast province of Shabwa,” the official told Xinhua by phone.
“The bombing took place on Saturday at about 1:30 a.m. local time, just a few hours after Yemeni warplanes hit hideouts of al- Qaida militants in neighboring towns of Azzan and Rawda,” he said on condition of anonymity. The official blamed al-Qaida for the attack.

An engineer of TOTAL-led Yemeni LNG company confirmed to Xinhua the bombing of the company’s gas pipeline. “Huge fire at the hit pipeline can be seen from miles away and the company already suspended gas production,” he said.

Al Qaeda terror group hiding in Yemen confirms death of Awlaki

Filed under: Air strike, US jihaddis, anwar, obits — by Jane Novak at 9:51 am on Monday, October 10, 2011

AQAP issues message confirming death of Anwar al-Awlaki: Site Intel

Safe copy at Jihadology has link to original post: al-Malāḥim Media presents new statement from al-Qā’idah in the Arabian Peninsula: “Blood of the Martyr, Light and Fire: Statement on the Martyrdom of Shaykh Anwar al-’Awlaqī and his Colleagues”

No mention of al Assiri per @Inteltweet but Sami confirmed dead as well.

“The blood of the sheik (al-Awlaki) and his brothers will not go in vain; there are heroes behind him who do not sleep under oppression, and they will retaliate soon,” the group said. “We and the Americans are at war: we get them and they get us, and the end is for those who are patient – they are the ones who will be victorious.” FOX

The full statement at Flashpoint here has a little different translation; also includes AQAP’s trashing the Yemeni opposition parties.

Al Awlaki was moving between al Zindani’s farm, al Okaimi’s and Afrag’s in al Jawf: al Ahram

Filed under: Air strike, Yemen, anwar, obits — by Jane Novak at 8:35 pm on Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update: does al Zindani even have a farm in Al Jawf? Some people say no. I dont know,could be knee-jerk reaction by people who don’t want to give a bad rep to the rev, w/a. Anwar and al Zindani did have relations. Also the report at Aden Press (scroll up) gives an account of Awlaki’s time prior to arriving in al Jawf as sheltering with GPC members. Update 2: yes Zindani does have a huge farm in Al-Jawf .. it’s about 10 kilometers x 10 kilometers farm

Original; Many foreign al Qaeda still at Okaimi’s al Ahram says.

al Ahram: The locals told Al-Ahram Weekly that Al-Awlaki came to Al-Jawf 10 days ago and he was staying in three places. The house of Salem Saleh Afrag, the local driver who was killed with him, was the first place. Al-Awlaki was killed immediately after he left this house. Khamis Afrag, brother of Salem, is a leading member in the Islamist opposition party, Islah.

The second place was the farm of local tribal leader Amin Al-Okaimi in Al-Jar. Al-Okaimi is a member of parliament and chairman of Islah. Many Al-Qaeda operatives including Egyptians, Algerians and Libyans are supposedly still hiding in the farm of Al-Okaimi until now, according to local sources.

Al-Okaimi and his tribesmen have been controlling the eastern province of Al-Jawf since March when ex-general Mohsen encouraged them to dismiss the president’s loyalists and replace them with rebel troops.

The third place frequented by Al-Awlaki was the farm of the Islamist leader Abdel-Majid Al-Zandani, wanted by the UN and US as a global terrorist, in the area of Nebta in the same province of Al-Jawf.

Al Zindani was a decades long time Saleh ally. In fact, Saleh announced his presidential candidacy from Al Iman university in 2006. After the March massacre in Sana’a, al Zindani defected to the rev but was jeered by some. He left Sana’a and went to Arhab, which had been under bombardment for some time. Meanwhile, the Houthis are fighting against Islahis in al Jawf and Oakimi is Ali Mohsen’s overseerer of the province.

Hard to say who this is an indictment of, if its true (ye old local sources) beyond al Zindani for sheltering him, and both Mohsen and Saleh for their long term tolerance, and who gets the credit in Yemen; there’s so many possible ways to look at it. As I said before, its just a clusterfck.

Two killed in drone strike in south Yemen

Filed under: Abyan, Air strike, Yemen, obits — by Jane Novak at 6:16 pm on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Among the week’s dead in Abyan a Pakistani and two Chechans and two civilian anti al-Qaeda activists.

SANAA, Yemen — A U.S. drone strike killed five al-Qaida-linked militants in southern Yemen on Wednesday, Yemeni officials said. (Read on …)

Revolutionaries are children and thieves: Yahya Saleh

Filed under: Air strike, Biographies, Counter-terror, Post Saleh, Security Forces, USA, War Crimes, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 6:50 pm on Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yahya Saleh while saying an entirely different thing in Arabic tells Reuters the ruling family is entirely committed to peace: AlertNet:

* Says cash for training and equipment cut, intelligence aid same,

* Says civil war unlikely despite “revolution of children and thieves”

* Calls potential U.N. resolution on transfer plan foreign interference

By Erika Solomon

SANAA, Oct 5 (Reuters) – The United States and other Western donors have cut counter-terrorism aid to Yemen’s army during eight months of mass protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his nephew and leader of a key paramilitary unit said on Wednesday, in effect supporting anti-Saleh groups. (Read on …)

AQAP claims Awlaki alive: Yemen Post

Filed under: Air strike, anwar, aq statements — by Jane Novak at 10:28 am on Monday, October 3, 2011

Hopefully these unsourced statements will prove to be an embarrassment to al Qaeda:

Yemen Post: “As is happens, al-Qaeda in Yemen is now claiming that both al-Awlaki and al-Asiri are still alive and were in fact nowhere near the explosion.”

But there hasn’t been an actual press release, if we can call it that, from AQAP. Supposedly they promised a video of Anwar disputing reports of his death to Xinjua, but there’s been nothing beyond that a few days ago. ( Here’s the summary of the reports of Anwar alive from 11/1.) Maybe the YP has sources. Marib Press says the local population confirmed to the family that Anwar is alive but has nothing from AQAP itself.

The fact that his family was unable to identify Awlaki from among the body parts was unsurprising. His father has my sympathy for that task alone. YP: “Tribal leaders in Jawf told the family that Awlaqi was not killed in the attack. Tribes in the province say there is no proof that Awlaqi was amongst the killed and DNA tests on the remains of the five killed can prove that.”

At the same time, Yemeni muj are confirming on the forums that he is dead. And DOD would never let President Obama make the statement if there was a chance Awlaki was still alive; otherwise, undead terrorists are quite common in Yemen. Al Reimi was announced dead three times and al Quso twice, but none of these were USG statements.

Dead al Qaeda worked for National Security

Filed under: Air strike, Security Forces, Yemen's Lies, anwar, obits — by Jane Novak at 7:02 am on Monday, October 3, 2011

A lot of al Qaeda get checks from the intelligence agency. Many of those killed in Abyan also had National Security ID cards. Badr al Hassani said that the PSO deputy paid him to train terrorists in Mareb in karate.

Yemen Times: He explained that one of the dead is from the local A’lmarwan clan in Khashef of Al-Jawf called Salem Saleh Arfaj and the other one is Saleh Mohsen Al-Na’j of the Abida tribe in Mareb, 173 km northeast the capital Sana’a.

“The two people mentioned were easy to identify because we know them, but it was hard to identify the other two since they were not from our area,” he said.

He indicated that one of the killed persons of his area was a well-known Al-Qaeda member among the population.

He described the area where the strike was carried out as “a plain surrounded by five mountains in the desert.”

“The vehicle which was said to be Al-Awlaki’s car was totally torn up into pieces and another car belonging to one of the citizens whose brother was killed in this strike was smashed,” he said.

And while the local relatives of the dead person were picking up the human parts of the dead bodies, they found two national security cards – one for their kinsman and the other for the dead person of Mareb, according to the local source.

“They were really Yemen’s national security agents recruited by Amar Saleh [chief of Yemen’s intelligence service],” he said.

Yemen Air Force bombs soldiers fighting al Qaeda again

Filed under: Abyan, Air strike, Islamic Imirate, Military, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 4:21 pm on Sunday, October 2, 2011

For the second time the Sanaa regime has “accidentally” bombed the troops fighting al Qaeda. The last time in early August dozens of the tribal fighters against al Qaeda were killed as well as four military commanders. The tribesmen later said that al Qaeda fighters were lying in wait after the bombing, as if it was coordinated with them. And this time, the al Qaeda fighters were laying in wait again. The Yemen Air Forces is commanded by the half-brother of Saleh, Mohammed Saleh Ahmar. I used to say the Sanaa regime was like John Gotti with an airforce, but now they are more like Zawaheri with an airforce. Update: Sanaa regime denies but multiple news outlets have local sources confirming.

USA Today: The officials said the bombing, which took place on Saturday evening in the southern Abyan province, targeted an abandoned school used as shelter by soldiers of the army’s 119th Brigade. The school is located just east of Abyan’s provincial capital Zinjibar, where militants linked to al-Qaeda have been in control since May.

Heavy fighting has been raging in the area for days as part of the army’s months long campaign to seize back Zinjibar from the militants.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, said there were unconfirmed reports that militants arrived at the school soon after the airstrike and killed an unspecified number of wounded troops.

The school is in the Bagdar area, along the frontline between Yemeni forces and militants. On Saturday, fighting in Zinjibar killed at least 28 soldiers and militants.

The 119th Brigade has rebelled against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to join the protest movement demanding his ouster. It is thought to have received significant support from the U.S. military to enable it to fight the militants in the south more efficiently.

(Read on …)

After Awlaki hit, US wants Saleh out and military to military operations

Filed under: Air strike, Biographies, Counter-terror, Military, USA, Yemen, anwar — by Jane Novak at 2:06 pm on Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mil to mil cooperation going forward is fine, necessary and productive as long as it does not include Saleh’s son Ahmed (Republican Guard) , or three nephews Yahya (Central Security), Tariq (Presidential Guards) and Ammar (National Security) or his half brother Mohammed Saleh Ammar (head of the Air Force). Everything after that is smooth sailing.

NYT

A senior American official made it clear on Saturday that Mr. Saleh’s immediate departure remained a goal of American policy, and that Yemen’s government was under no “significant illusion” that the United States had changed its position.

“Sustaining military to military cooperation is in our best interest,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We don’t want to undermine that cooperation.”

A Yemeni government spokesman, however, said Mr. Saleh deserved credit for helping the Americans.

“After this big victory in catching Awlaki, the White House calls on the president to leave power immediately?” Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi said to Reuters. “The Americans don’t even respect those who cooperate with them.”

The spokesman for Yemen’s opposition coalition, Mohammed Qahtan, rejected the idea that Mr. Awlaki’s killing cast the government in a favorable light. Instead, it shows “the regime’s failure and weakness to perform its duty to arrest and try Awlaki in accordance with the Constitution,” Mr. Qahtan said. “And it’s that that forced America to go after him using their own means.”

Al Qaeda linked sources deny Al Awlaki dead: BBC; AQAP contradictory: Mareb Press

Filed under: Air strike, Yemen, anwar, aq statements — by Jane Novak at 10:31 am on Saturday, October 1, 2011

Update: Mareb Press report on an AlQuds Alarabia report that PM Mujawir is Anwar Awlaki’s uncle and they are from the same tribe, that this is the reason the Sanaa regime failed to take any action against him for years. If true, it also means the Fahd al Quso is Mujawir’s tribesman.

Update 2: AQAP contradictory, it sounds like they don’t know or havent confirmed themselves: Mareb Press The questioning in the killing of al-Awlaki is reinforced by a conflict of information from sources close al Qaeda, where some close to AQ stress he is not dead, while others assert the news of his death (is correct), while it did not issue any official statement from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that confirms or denies the news of his death.

Original: Gah! Al Qaeda linked sources tell the BBC that Awlaki is alive and they will produce video to prove it. On one hand, the US said it had definite confirmation and Obama wouldn’t have announced it if there wasn’t. Also there was a witness on the ground, the homeowner. And there was confirmation on one of the forums. On the other hand, the remains were charred and in pieces and his father couldn’t identify him. There’s been so much duplicity from the Sanaa regime on the al Qaeda issue before. However I don’t recall AQAP denying a death that occurred, they are usually more reliable in announcing causalities than Sanaa, which has a habit of announcing kills that weren’t going back to 2004 and Nabi. Likely the BBC’s source is not actual AQAP? Until I see it a reliable Yemeni site that has a statement directly from AQAP, not reprinting the beeb story, then its likely untrue.

BBC, GT: Tribal sources linked to al Qaeda, told the BBC that al-Qaeda in Yemen, Egypt denied the news of killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, a leading figure in the organization, and vowed to broadcast a video of an interview with Aulaqi prove that he is still alive

But sources close to the father of Anwar al-Awlaki who is a professor at the University of Sanaa, confirmed to the BBC that he went today to the al-Jawf province, eastern Yemen to identify the body of his son, and supervising the burial, if so, then his death.

According to tribal sources is entirely distorted and could not be identified but believed to be Anwar Awlaki.

Similar report at Barakish

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