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This is the most important front in its war on terror requiring air strikes and the use of local countering insurgency forces in Yemen and elsewhere. But will that strategy backfire? the killing of civilians in some these attacks was used by AQAB as also recruiting devise So these incidents have certainly contributed or have been used certainly to recruit radicals. AMERICA'S DANGEROUS GAME Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula a terrorist group based in Yemen continues to plan attacks against our homeland our citizens and our friends and allies AQAP which currently we view as the primary threat to the homeland the counterterrorism community has been kept very busy with reports about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula trying to carry out attacks with reports about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula trying to carry out attacks in Yemen and in that region, as well as against the United States. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP has emerged as the most dangerous regional node in the global Jihad Sana'a, Yemen According to the US, this is the real front line in its global war on Al Qaeda Not Afghanistan or Pakistan In the early morning's calm the old city looks timeless and permanent These buildings have stood here for centuries and postures of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have hung from the walls for the last 33 years The US gave Saleh's regime hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and saw him as a key alley. With Saleh out of office after a year of sustained popular protests America's campaign against Al Qaeda in Yemen has been thrown into crisis. Yemen's connection with Al Qaeda and terrorists groups goes back to the Jihad days of Afghanistan Abdulghani Al-Eryani is a well connected Yemeni political analyst The Yemeni government got involved in recruiting for the Jihad in Afghanistan Of course it was sanctioned by the US and by Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia financed that So thousands upon thousands of Yemeni youth ended up been indoctrinated in militant Islam in Afghanistan and coming back and starting their own militant cells here The regime continue to be very complicit in aiding and the petting of terrorists groups harboring them and covering up for them until today I am convinced that many terrorists in Yemen are still connected to National Security apparatus to the president's office and to people very close to the top leadership of the country Abdulghani says that Saleh's regime played to American and Saudi fears about Al Qaeda and then used their military aid for its own purposes Do you think that they actually have a commitment to the same agenda as the US regarding Al Qaeda Not at all. Not even close because it was their cash cow Why would you get rid of your source of income? It does not make sense to them to start with, they should have never made counter terrorism a source of profit for the regime because the increases terrorism. Secondly, use of military forces was a bad mistake Military action often backfires by killing civilians and by the violation of sovereignty that offends lots of Yemenis Last May, militants calling themselves Ansar Al Sharia captured the city of Zanjibar, the capital of Abyan province in southern Yemen Yemen Centeral Security Forces whose counter-terrorism units are funded by US abandoned their positions in heavy weaponry to the militants. Zinjibar remains under Ansar Al Sharia's control RIght now in Abyan, there are thousands of fighters fighting under the banner of Ansar Al Sharia against the government and people say these are AQAP they are NOT there is a nucleus of AQAP but the vast majority are people who are aggrieved by attacks by the US and by the Yemeni government on their homes that forced them to go out and fight so this is not about establishing the Caliphate? No. It is about revenge. General Somali leads the 25th Mechanized Brigade He is tasked with retaking Zinjibar. Do you believe that Ansar Al Sharia is Al Qaeda or is it something else? General Somali reluctantly agrees to take us to his front line he has been ambushed twice in this road and his bullet scared armored Land Cruiser. We drive passed the Unity Stadium renovated for the Gulf 20 Football Tournament in 2010 Once a symbol of Maternity and Tourism the stadium was seized by militants until Sumali's forces shelled them and forced them back for more than three months, Sumali and his men were trapped here Surrounded by militants his troops lack the equipments and trainings of Yemen's US-backed counter-terrorism units but he says American support was instrumental in surviving the seige Before last year AQAP had never captured or held territory but Ansar Al Sharia remains in control of Zinjibar and has announced the formation of Islamic Government in southern Yemen Ansar Al Sharia appears to be tapping into a mainstream anger at the Saleh regime and the Americans To try to understand that anger we met the leader of the largest tribe in the south Sheikh Saleh Ben Farid Our family, the early family the Sultanate used to have a treaty with the British Government Then the Socialist Party came and ordered all the Sultanates out of the country When Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first president of the unified Yemen he invited back the old tribal leaders to balance the strength of the Socialists and sepratists So when the Socialist Party lost, President Ali Abdullah Saleh called us He said you have a lot of support and you have lot of followers and we need you back So I came back in 1991. When was the first time that heard about someone being Al Qaeda in that area? I never knew that any body belong to Al Qaeda except in the last three years and especially after the Americans attacked Al Majela in December 17th, 2009, US cruise missiles were launched from the Arabian Sea targeting the tiny bedouin village of Al Majella It was the Obama Administration's first missile strike on Yemen but it will be the first of many We got telephones from those people and of course the news was on Aljazeera The government alleged to targeted Al Qaeda hideouts in a preventive operation killing 34 members Our government attacked Al Qaeda base in Almajella where Al Qaeda have a field for training and they have huge stores for all kind of weapons and ammunitions and rockets and all of this and they did not mention the Americans at all When we went there, we saw what happened I mean if somebody who got a weak heart, I think he would collapse you see goats and sheep all over you see heads of those who were killed here and there you see children you cannot tell if this meat belongs to animals or human beings! very sad very sad very sad. unbelievable. Why do they do this? Why the Hell they do this? There are no stores. There is no field for training. There is nobody except very poor tribe. One of the poorest tribes in the south It takes about 12 hours to reach Almajella by car avoiding the checkpoints militants have set up along the main road The survivors left missile parts rusting in the fields were they fell hoping one day people will come to investigate their story when we went there we saw what happened Of course our government does not have this kind of rockets and you see all the shells all over unbelievable Of course there were marking made in the United States of America is all recorded Do people there want revenge from United states for this? I think they have created again many enemies in Yemen When the Wikileakes cables were released They revealed a meeting shortly held after Almajella attack between US General David Petraeus and President Saleh In the meeting Petraeus announces that US military aid will be increased to 150 million Dollars a year and Saleh made a joke with the Americans about lying to the Yemeni people about the Almujella attack Saleh assures General Petraeus that "We will continue saying that the bombs are ours and not yours" A long silent, aggressive bombing campaign the Obama Administration funnels money into a Yemeni counter-terrorism unit, the CTU led by the President's Nephew, Yahia Saleh In 2009, US military aid more than tripled and in 2010 it doubled again The opposition calls the CTU, Saleh's family military as supposed to the national military which they say does the actual fighting against Al Qaeda the opposition sees them as elite US trained defenders of the Saleh's regime It is mostly for the defense of the regime until today counter terrorism forces have not been deployed in any effective way they are still here in the palace, protecting the palace That is how it is. I could say with confidence that some of the resources of the counter terrorism forces were used against the peaceful demonstrators in the protest square. I have spoken to eye witnesses that have seen some of those counter terrorism officers in the scene at the right places engaged in operations? Yes Saleh was the only president a unified Yemen had ever known He weathered constant rebellions in periodic civil wars but could not survive the sustained popular protests that continued today in the streets of the capital Scores were killed last March when Saleh's regime was tried to put down the protest with force but they only gathered momentum. Amin Al Rabiye is a human rights lawyer and long time opposition activist He like many in the opposition holds the US at least indirectly responsible for the deaths as the backer for the Saleh's regime But Amin claims that the Saleh's regime biggest crime is allowing US missile attacks inside the country The outrage of a US missile strikes is not confined to opposition activist Even Saleh's Foreign Minister, Abu Baker Al Qirbi admits that US counter terrorism policy in Yemen has cause a blowback He said that Almajella attack in particular was a mistake Well Almajella is always been an unfortunate incident because it really attacked civilian populations as you see in Pakistan and other parts of the world They always face a lot of resentment Do you think the Americans bombing have helped Al Qaeda in Yemen? I am sure that some elements will feel sympathetic to them. We've made progress. Al Qaeda's leadership has hunkered down. Training camps have been struck, leaders eliminated plots disrupted. We have worked closely with partners including Yemen to inflict major blows against Al Qaeda leaders. The Obama Administration has dramatically escalated its missile strikes inside Yemen These attacks are celebrated as crippling blows against Al Qaeda but some intelligence experts question their strategic impact. Our attacks on civilians let's say or the killings of civilians in some of these attacks was used by AQAB as also recruiting devise So these incidents have certainly contributed or have been used certainly to recruit radicals. There is no doubt about it. Amil Nakhla was the highest ranking CIA Analyst on the Middle East and the founder of the CIA Political Islam Program. Nakha says that US assassinations have crippled Al Qaeda central leadership but the original groups like AQAP have become more powerful Do you think Al Qaeda in Yemen is stronger now than it was on 9/11? It is because 9/11 the strength really was Al Qaeda Central and regional organizations were really trying to even vying for better connection to Al Qaeda Central so there are things today definitely much more much bigger really than it was on 9/11. The worse thing for us to do is to declare Yemen as a new front on the war on terror. because that's what Al Qaeda would love us to do because then they will make the argument we went to Afghanistan, we went to Iraq and now in Yemen. Back in southern Yemen, Ansar Al Sharia remains in control of Zinjibar. in a wave of assassinations that targeted government security forces. We meet with Mulla Zabara a tribal leader who is often served as a mediator in negotiations with AQAP He helps secure the release of three French hostages last November But he has failed to negotiate a peace with the rebels in Zinjibar Mulla Zabara tells us that Al Qaeda which was once in hiding is now able to operate in the open Mulla Zabara maybe overstating his tribe's fighting strength but it is certainly true that Yemen's tribes are more powerful that Al Qaeda. But Mulla Zabara says the tribe sees little point in fighting to protect a corrupt and predatory state. America's Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Yemen has relied on airstrikes in support for the Saleh regime's own counter-terrorism forces. But a decade after this strategy began Al Qaeda is stronger here that it has ever been It was a major fiasco The Yemeni government saw the opportunity to exploit terrorism and extort money from the US, and from Saudi Arabia and the others and they used it to the fullest. and as a consequence, the spread of terrorism and the enrichment of terrorism increased over the same period. I think if we have been left alone we would have less terrorists in Yemen than we do now You can kill all the leaders, radical leaders in Yemen if you maintain the same nepotistic, repressive, corrupt regime in Sana'a The killing of those leaders is not going to weaken the movement it is going to increase and energize the movement to being able to liquidate some of the AQAP leaders. I don't think beyond that we have gained much with the Saleh's regime The fact is that these people decided to topple him and we really could not save him. We should become humble enough to realize that targeting these leaders is fine but that in the long-run, it is the people who are going to decide the fate of their own regimes as the Arab Spring has shown. Translated by: MAHDI ALHASANI

Video Details

Duration: 24 minutes and 46 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Jermey
Director: Jermey 1
Views: 64
Posted by: zamik on Mar 9, 2012

Inside Story 3

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