September 27, 2011
Interview with Sheikh Hussain al Shuaib, mediator to Al Qaed in the Arabian Peninsula (Bumped)
via email. This is an excerpt that deals with tribal mediation efforts last month in Abyan with top al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leaders. Sheikh Hussain is one of the local dignitaries that attempted to convince al Qaeda to lay down their arms and withdraw. Another section regarding evolving concepts of jihad, US counter-terror tactics and other related topics will be published later.
Zinjibar, Abyan’s capital, has been under the control of al Qaeda mercenaries since May when security forces withdrew, leaving behind a large cache of weapons. State sponsored jihaddists captured the weapons, looted the city and declared an Islamic Emirate. They later beheaded a suspected witch and chopped off the arm of a teen-age thief. Yemen’s counter-terror forces did not engage the terrorists but instead deployed to Sana’a to protect the palace.
Q4: I learned from XXX you have contributed in mediation between the al-Qaeda, which controls parts of the south, and the tribes. Can you explain to us what kind of mediation and what resulted?
A4: Yes, I mediated after some tribal and other notables asked me, including some leaders of the ruling party in the province of Abyan. I responded to the request and was accepted in the tribes in the city claiming in the province of Abyan. Despite all the good that I do, our efforts are still ongoing, and the most important thing for us is to convince the young al-Qaeda to withdraw from the provincial capital of Zanzibar and return the situation as before, then arrange the return of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Our efforts are underway and there were some obstacles, the most important of which is that there are parties in the State and others that struggle to serve its interests and the achievement of its objectives, but there is no shortage of God's solution.
Q5: There is a lot of talk that some of the devices of the Saleh regime are in favor of al-Qaeda taking control of some areas of the south. Are you able to confirm that?
A5: The role of the leaders of the brigades of the Saleh regime in Abyan and Aden was clearly evident on what happened and is happening in Zanzibar, the capital of Abyan province. The city was handed over entirely to al-Qaeda. Security pulled out of the military forces that were stationed there, including the central security. The sudden withdrawal from the city sparked surprise among all observers.
The modern Yemeni street and the south know of the existence of a conspiracy by the Saleh regime to deliver Abyan into the situation as it is now. We are accustomed to such policies from the Saleh regime which uses and always used al Qaeda fighters in any internal conflict between him and his opponents. The regime used them in the summer 94 and used them in wars on the Houthis in Saada. It is no secret that those who blew up the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on 17 \ 9 \ 2009, were some military officers and they used a military vehicle and hired al Qaeda fighters giving them military uniforms. The Saleh regime is not to be trusted on anything, it is the cause of all problems of the country.
I think that the situation worsened for Ali Saleh when he learned that the southern movement has almost complete control of the province of Abyan, after control of Lahj, and the young Qaeda fighters were planted there by Saleh, as it is known that Abyan province is representing the South.
Q6: What is your view of the U.S. role in combating terrorism in Yemen?
A6: I welcome the U.S. role in the fight against terrorism through dialogue and scientific discussion rather than violence and military intervention. As I said before, violence only begets more violence, we welcome that any role of the U.S. put an end to violence and terrorism and that is peaceful.
Most Yemenis believe that AQAP operates as an arm of the Yemeni intelligence and security services. There are substantial indications of the relationship. With the revolution in full swing, defectors are starting to come forward with details.
Judge Hamoud al Hittar is the head of Yemen’s now defunct Koranic Dialog Committee that "rehabilitated" 342 hardened al Qaeda operatives. A former Minster of Endowments, al Hittar said recently that the Saleh regime is "supporting a number of al Qaeda members in Abyan to frighten the West, and to suppress the Yemeni revolution."
Judge Al Hittar said many of the top al Qaeda members who he met during dialog sessions are, “dealing with the Yemeni regime and receiving financial rewards." A well established system of communication and payments to al Qaeda militants is headed by three security officials, “one in a Presidential Guards, the second in the National Security and the third in the Interior Ministry." (The Central Security forces are within the Interior Ministry and contain one of the counter-terror units.) In essence, the same counter-terror commanders the US is relying on for its national security are paying al Qaeda to engage in violence, foster insecurity and heighten the US’s threat perception.
Former Foreign Minister Abdullah al Asnag wrote in June about the conflict in Abyan, “Although the government has declared the dead as terrorists, a substantial number of these supposed terrorists have turned out to be on the payroll of the National Security Agency (headed by Ammar Saleh). Many families of the deceased and supposed terrorists have reported that their sons were employed by the National Security Agency and some families even presented NSA ID Cards belonging to the deceased.”
Over 100,000 Yemeni civilians have fled the violence in Abyan, and are sheltering in schools in Aden. A military brigade that refused to surrender to the terrorists was left stranded by the Defense Ministry and under assault by al Qaeda for two months without reinforcements or food. The US ultimately resupplied them by air. About 1500 local tribesmen came together to fight alongside the besieged unit against al Qaeda, and in late July, the Yemeni air force “accidentally” bombed the tribesmen, killing dozens.