Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yemen: Rounding 'em up left and right.

Yemen rounds up another Qaeda-linked group.

Yemen has arrested six members of an Islamic militant group which claimed an attack on the U.S. embassy that killed 17 people, a state-run website said on Sunday.

Abu al-Ghaith al-Yamani -- who signed the Islamic Jihad group's statements and was thought to be its leader -- was among the six arrested, it said. But the website, in detailing the arrests, did not mention the attack on the U.S. embassy, saying only that the six were detained for threatening to target other foreign embassies including the Saudi and British embassies.

Meanwhile, the British Embassy is closed until further notice and the death toll of the American Embassy attack rises to 18.

In other embassy news, isn't it ironic? Yemen closes it's Mogadishu Embassy due to 'security threat'.

Yemen: It's the new Iraq.

After being set back by the increased US military presence in Iraq, Islamists are focussing on Yemen as a new territory for their operations, according to experts.


Yemen is attractive to the Islamist militants for a variety of reasons, said Nabil al-Soufi, editor-in-chief of the website NewsYemen.

For al-Qaida, Yemen provides a "fertile environment" with a lack of state control in "the arid and mountainous regions of the country, where Al Qaeda can establish training camps, without anyone noticing," he said.

Yemen's proximity to Saudi Arabia also plays a role, according to Dominique Thomas, an expert in radical Islam at France's Graduate Center for Social Sciences (EHESS).

"If Yemen has become more important for militants, it's also due to ... the fierce repression that took place in Saudi Arabia" from where many of the jihadists spilled over, said Thomas.

Along with other experts in the field, Thomas said the Yemeni government does not view Islamist militants as a vital threat and has on several occasions chosen to enter into agreements with them rather than to fight them face on.

"Yemeni authorities have always priviledged their relations with the Islamists and tribes so as to strenghten their authority against the main threat, people from the south and Shiites from the north," said Thomas.

Johnsen suggested the authorities have in fact prevented even more attacks from taking place. The "government has made several agreements with some individuals within al-Qaida in order to get them not to carry out any attacks in Yemen," he said.