November 24, 2010

17 killed in suicide attack on Yemeni worshippers

In an overt al Qaeda attack on Yemeni civilians, a suicide car bomb targeted an al Ghadeer procession in al Jawf, Yemen. The Saada Wars began in 2004 between the al Qaeda infested Yemeni military and a small group of Shia rebels. The sixth war ended in a truce early this year. Hundreds of thousands of Saada residents are still displaced by the fighting, and many are in al Jawf. Al Ghadeer day, a mainstream Shia holiday, was outlawed in Yemen from 2005 through 2008, and many were arrested for their religious observances. Last year some boys lighting firecrackers (a traditional means of celebrating) were arrested in Sana'a. This year Abdelmalik al Houthi, the rebels' leader, issued a statement urging worshipers to take part in celebrations.

I'm curious if this bomb matches any other al Qaeda car bombs including the September 2006 twin attacks on the oil installations, the July 2007 al Qaeda attack on the tourists in Marib, the August 2008 car bombing in Sayoun and the September 2008 attack on the US embassy. An outbreak of intense clashes near the Saudi border between the Houthis and "pro-government tribes" was already straining the truce. While all of al Qaeda's tactics are deplorable, targeting people who are going to pray is particularly repugnant. This is the first time there has been an open al Qaeda attack on the Houthis, normally they pretend to be soldiers or tribal volunteers. In this case it may be the inverse, soldiers pretending to be al Qaeda. All the lines become blurred in Sa'ada. Unfortunately there are plenty of brainwashed teen-agers to deploy as suicide bombers. This is the first time that the target of an al Qaeda attack in Yemen was Yemeni civilians.

Update: The Houthis blame the US for the crime, seriously. In another statement to the WaPo, they suspect al Qaeda, but the Houthis think that al Qaeda is a CIA proxy so the statements are not contradictory. For an overview of narratives de-legitimizing al Qaeda in Yemen, see my article, Comparative Counter-Insurgency in Yemen, in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, available at online at The GLORIA Center or download a PDF file here.

AFP: SANAA A car bomb struck a religious procession in a Shiite rebel bastion of north Yemen on Wednesday, killing 17 people and rattling a fragile truce with the government, a rebel spokesman and a tribal chief said.

"Seventeen people were killed and 15 wounded in the car bombing that targeted a Shiite procession in Al-Jawf province," rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told AFP by telephone.

Abdulsalam said the attack targeted the faithful who were preparing to mark Al-Ghadeer, the day on which Shiites commemorate the anointment of Ali, one of the key figures of their faith, as successor to the Prophet Mohammed. The anniversary has long been a source of contention between the Sunni and Shiite branches of the faith and a tribal leader in the province told AFP that the bombing was the work of a Sunni militant loyal to Al-Qaeda.

with the government, a rebel spokesman and a tribal chief said.

"Seventeen people were killed and 15 wounded in the car bombing that targeted a Shiite procession in Al-Jawf province," rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told AFP by telephone.

Abdulsalam said the attack targeted the faithful who were preparing to mark Al-Ghadeer, the day on which Shiites commemorate the anointment of Ali, one of the key figures of their faith, as successor to the Prophet Mohammed. The anniversary has long been a source of contention between the Sunni and Shiite branches of the faith and a tribal leader in the province told AFP that the bombing was the work of a Sunni militant loyal to Al-Qaeda.

By Jane at 12:35 PM | Comments |