Update: This article (which I did not write) is reprinted from the Hadramout Tribal Coalition website and can be found at http://www.alhelf.com/?p=1368.
The following article asserts that significant parts of the Yemeni military in Hadramout simultaneously operate as an organized crime syndicate and an incubator for al Qaeda. The configuration is not unusual in Yemen where military fiefdoms spawn local tyrants, loyal jihaddis and unchecked smuggling networks. While some vital security sector reforms have been instituted, like biometric identity cards, dislodging these nodes of criminality is essential to integrating the entire military within an overt command and control structure focused on the security of Yemeni citizens.
Brigade 27 Mika (Mechanical) is the Octopus of Smuggling and Terrorism in Hadramout
Hadramout has not experienced any kind of smuggling such as drug trafficking, arms smuggling and human trafficking in its history like it has now. Unfortunately, Hadramout became unable to maintain its well known a safe and a security place and great values anymore, and it became the home of all kinds of smugglings. Due to Hadramout’s position and to its wide borders, it was and still used to be the station of smuggling into neighboring countries. With time expansion, another task was added to Hadramout which is converting it into an incubator for armed groups (Al-Qaeda) to serve the main purpose of the Big Mafia in the Republic of Yemen (RoY).
The beginning of this story goes back to the 1994 war and the arrival of the armed groups of Mujahedeen to Hadramout coast, who took part against the war on communism (Southern Forces). This decision was taken by the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, his brother from a different father, through recruiting those Mujahedeen and they were officially numbered and turn them into a brigade called Brigade 27 Mika ( Mika means Mechanical). Staff Gen. of this brigade since its start is Abdulaziz Makaleh Al Zindani(عبدالعزيز المقالح الزنداني ), one of Al-Qaeda militants and a cousin of Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani(عبد المجيد الزنداني). With the establishment of this brigade, smuggling and terrorism were strongly started. Its network was strongly developed since then, and is threaded from the coast of Hadramout all the way to the neighboring countries, and even inside some of neighboring territory.
The Brigade 27 Mika site is not in one place, but it spreads gradually from the coast and all the way to the neighboring countries to secure the borders for mainly smuggling and terrorism!! The Brigade 27 Mika consists of five battalions, and they are located in strategic positions with functions as follows:
1- Coast Guard Battalion: It is the one that insures all landings of contraband materials from outside RoY, and it secures all the smuggling of fuel and crude oil from Hadramout by ships to the international black market.
2- Battalion 4: a battalion stationed in the Al Dabah area(الضبه), the official crude oil export port. This battalion led by Mujahid Alkotaiba (مجاهد القطيبي) and it is the smuggling and terrorism operation room. It coordinates with local smugglers, some Local Fish Associations, and international smugglers; and it also protect trafficking along the pipeline into the valley.
3- Oil Companies Protection Battalion: This battalion has 2 tasks: the first one is to protect the collection of illegal dues from the oil companies which is amounted about a quarter of a billion dollars a year; and this amount goes directly to the Oil Mafia as cost of protection, as many press and government reports mentioned this many times, without being remitted to the state treasury. The second task is to secure the lines of smuggling in the middle of the valley and make sure they are not exposed to the obstacles. The person in charged of this battalion is Mohammad Qahm (محمد القحم) regardless of the change of the well know and the highly corrupted battalion commander in a year or so, i.e. Ahmed Al Tharab( احمد الضراب).
4. TOTAL Protection Battalion: TOTAL contributes part of strengthening this network, intentionally or unintentionally, through forming alliance with the traditional power and Oil Mafia to protect them and thus protect the smuggling network.
5. Al Suwairi (السويري) Battalion: This battalion was initially created as a training camp for the Mujahedeen and for the returnees from Afghanistan which follows Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar commands directly. Later on, this Mujahedeen camp was turned into a Mujahedeen battalion which follows Brigade 27 Mika.
The elimination of the smuggling and terrorism threats to Hadramout and to neighboring countries starts with the removing of Brigade 27 Mika away from Hadramout and the dismissal of the battalion’s effective leaders of Brigade 27 and other effective members and Mujahedeen.
By Mohammed Al Haddar