Terrorism in Yemen
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Attacks against civilian targets
On December 30, 2002, a suspected Islamic fundamentalist killed three US workers and wounded one in a hospital in Jibla, using a semi-automatic rifle. The suspect was arrested and identified as Abid Abdulrazzaq Al-Kamil.
Al Qaeda members sent letters to 45 Jews living in al-Salem, near Sana'a, on January 19, 2007, accusing them of involvement in an "international Zionist conspiracy". The letters said that if the Jews did not abandon their homes in ten days, they would be abducted and murdered and their homes would be looted. The Jewish community sent a complaint to President Abdullah Salah and are temporarily staying in a hotel near Sana'a. The Yemeni government has promised that their homes will be protected and they may return to them.
On September 17, 2008, Al Qaeda militants attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a. 20 people were killed, including: six militants, six policemen and seven civilians. One American was among those killed.
Attacks on tourists
On July 2, 2007, a suicide bomber killed eight Spanish tourists and their two Yemeni drivers in Ma'rib.
On January 18, 2008, Al Qaeda militants opened fire on a convoy of tourists in Hadhramaut killing two Belgian tourists and two Yemenis, the tourists' driver and their guide.
Attacks targeted South Korean tourists in March 2009. Four Korean tourists alongside their local Yemeni guide were killed. Two attackers also died.
2010 cargo plane bomb plot
On October 29, 2010, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the device in a package sent from Yemen and found on a US-bound cargo plane was designed to go off on the aircraft. But Cameron said investigators could not yet be certain about when the device, intercepted at East Midlands Airport, was supposed to explode. A second device containing explosives was found on a cargo plane in Dubai. The US suspected al-Qaeda involvement.
In Yemen, police arrested but later released a woman suspected of posting the packages. President Ali Abdullah Saleh pledged that his country would continue fighting al-Qaeda "in cooperation with its partners." He added, "But we do not want anyone to interfere in Yemeni affairs by hunting down al-Qaeda," as heavily armed troops patrolled Sanaa. Yemeni authorities also closed down the local offices of the US cargo firms United Parcel Service and FedEx, who had already suspended all shipments out of the country and pledged full co-operation with investigators. US President Barack Obama's national security adviser, John Brennan, has phoned Saleh to offer US help in fighting al-Qaeda, the White House said.
The explosive devices, which triggered security alerts in the US, UK, and Middle East, were apparently both inserted in printer cartridges and placed in packages addressed to synagogues in the Chicago area. Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) - an explosive favoured by the Yemeni-based militant group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - was discovered in both devices. Obama discussed the apparent terrorist plot with Cameron by phone, expressing his "appreciation for the professionalism of American and British services involved" in disrupting it.
Later, Cameron told reporters at his country residence, Chequers, that it was believed the explosive device intercepted at East Midlands Airport was "designed to go off on the aeroplane". "We cannot be sure about when that was supposed to take place," he added. "There is no early evidence that it was meant to take place over British soil, but of course we cannot rule it out." The prime minister said the authorities had immediately banned packages coming to or through the UK from Yemen, and would be "looking extremely carefully at any further steps we have to take". UK Home Secretary Theresa May said the government did not believe the plotters would have known the location of the device when it was planned to explode. While details of the device found in Britain were not released, photographs emerged on the US media of an ink toner cartridge covered in white powder and connected to a circuit board. The British government's remarks suggest the authorities in both the UK and the US remain uncertain about the precise targets and, indeed, aim of this latest apparent plot. According to Dubai police, the explosives they found were also inside the toner cartridge of a printer, placed in a cardboard box containing English-language books and souvenirs.The cartridge contained PETN and plastic explosives mixed with lead azide, they said. Lead azide is an explosive commonly used in detonators. "The device was prepared in a professional manner and equipped with an electrical circuit linked to a mobile telephone [Sim] card concealed in the printer," the police said. For US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the plot bore "all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda and in particular [AQAP]". Unnamed US officials quoted by the Associated Press said al-Qaeda's explosives expert in Yemen, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, was the likely suspect behind the bomb-making. They said Asiri had helped make the bomb used in the failed Detroit Christmas Day bomb attack and another PETN device used in a failed suicide attack against a top Saudi counter-terrorism official last year. The White House has said Saudi Arabia provided information that helped identify the threat, while the UK's Daily Telegraph reported that an MI6 officer responsible for Yemen had received a tip-off.
Military/police counter-terrorism operations
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, President Ali Abdullah Saleh made an effort to eliminate the Islamist militant presence. By November 2002, Yemeni government troops detained 104 suspected al-Qaeda members.
In December 2001, a search by government forces for two Yemeni believed to be senior al Qaeda members hiding near Ma'rib led to a gun battle with tribesmen which ended in the deaths of 34 people, including 18 soldiers. To defuse the situation, ten Ma'rib sheiks were detained as hostages of the state in comfortable rooms in the presidential palace for 35 days, until 43 lesser tribesmen took their place.
In November 2002, six Yemenis suspected of being members of al Qaeda were blown up in their car in the province of Marib by a Hellfire missile attack from an unmanned CIA RQ-1 Predator aircraft. Among the dead was Abu Ali al-Harithi.
In 2004, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC-TV) international affairs program "Foreign Correspondent" investigated this targeted killing and the involvement of then US Ambassador as part of a special report titled "The Yemen Option".The report also examined the evolving tactics and countermeasures in dealing with Al Qaeda inspired attacks.
In December 2002, Spanish troops boarded and detained a ship, at the request of the United States, that was transporting Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen. After two days, when the United States determined it had no right under international law to continue to detain the shipment, they let it continue on to Yemen.
On July 30, 2009, three soldiers were killed in a clash with al-Qaeda militants in Marib province.
A raid on an alleged al-Qaeda camp on December 17, 2009, led to the deaths of 46 civilians, 14 of which were female and 21 were children ABC News reported that US cruise missiles were part of the bombardment of the camps, which targeted Abu Hureira Qasm al-Rimi. A local official and a tribal source claimed that 49 civilians, including 23 women and 17 children, were among those killed in the strike. The same day a clash between security forces and al-Qaeda members in Abhar left four militants dead.
An air raid targeted an al-Qaeda meeting in Wadi Rafadh in Shabwa province on December 24, 2009. Another 34 al-Qaeda militants were killed in the attack. Among the dead were also Saudis and Iranians, according to the security forces. The number of al-Qaeda members arrested in the previous week rose to 29.
US air attacks
The U.S. first said it used targeted killing in November 2002, with the cooperation and approval of the government of Yemen. A CIA-controlled Predator drone fired a Hellfire missile at an SUV in the Yemeni desert containing Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, a Yemeni suspected senior al-Qaeda lieutenant believed to have been the mastermind behind the October 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 Americans. He was on a list of targets whose capture or death had been called for by US President George W. Bush. In addition to al-Harethi, five other occupants of the SUV were killed, all of whom were suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, and one of whom (Kamal Derwish) was an American.
On December 17, 2009, the village of Al Ma`jalah was hit by a cruise missile, killing 41 people, including 14 women, 21 children, and 14 alleged al-Qaeda members. While the Yemeni government initially took responsibility, photographs of American components and a Wikileaks cable suggest that it was carried out by the United States.
In May 2010 an errant US drone attack targeting al Qaeda terrorists in Wadi Abida, Yemen, killed five people, among them Jaber al-Shabwani, deputy governor of Maarib province who was mediating between the government and the militants. The killing so angered Shabwani's tribesmen that in the subsequent weeks they fought heavily with government security forces, twice attacking a major oil pipeline in Maarib.
On May 5, 2011, a missile fired from a U.S. drone killed Abdullah and Mosaad Mubarak, brothers who may have been militants. The missile was fired on their car and both died instantly. The strike was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, but al-Awlaki appears to have survived.
On 3 June 2011 American manned jets or drones attacked and killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, a midlevel al-Qaeda operative, and several other militant suspects, including Ammar Abadah Nasser al-Wa'eli, in a strike in southern Yemen. Four civilians were also reportedly killed in the strike. The strike was reportedly coordinated by American special forces and CIA operatives based in Sana. According to the Associated Press, in 2011 the US government began building an airbase near or in Yemen from which the CIA and US military plans to operate drones over Yemen. The Washington Post reported that the US previously used a base in Djibouti to operate drones over Yemen. The Wall Street Journal reports that a US drone base in the Seychelles could be used to operate drones over Yemen.
According to local residents and unnamed American and Yemeni government officials, on 14 July 2011 US manned aircraft or drones attacked and destroyed a police station in Mudiya in Abyan Province which had been occupied by al Qaeda militants. Yemeni media and government gave conflicting accounts on the number of casualties, estimated at between 6 and 50 killed. The same day and nearby, drone missiles reportedly hit a car belonging to Yemeni al Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso, but al-Quso survived the attack.
On 1 August 2011, US drones and reportedly Yemeni aircraft attacked three targets with bombs and missiles in South Yemen, killing 15 suspected al Qaeda militants and wounding 17 others. The locations targeted included al-Wahdah, al-Amodiah, and al-Khamilah in Abyan province. One of those killed was reportedly militant leader Naser al-Shadadi. According to the Yemen Post "At least 35 US drone attacks were reported in Yemen over the last two month."
On 24 August 2011, unidentified aircraft attacked suspected al-Qaeda militants near Zinjibar. The strikes reportedly killed 30 militants and wounded 40 others.
According to Yemeni officials as reported in the Long War Journal, US airstrikes in southeast Abyan province on 30 August to 1 September 2011 killed 30 AQAP militants. The militants were reportedly engaged in combat with Yemeni military forces.
Two airstrikes by US-operated aircraft on 21 September 2011 reportedly killed four AQAP fighters in Abyan and seven AQAP fighters in Shaqra.
On 30 September 2011, US drone-launched missiles killed four people, including Al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, in Al Jawf Governorate. The strike also killed Samir Kahn, American-born editor of Inspire magazine. The strike marked the first known time that the US had deliberately targeted US citizens in a drone attack.
A reported drone strike in Zinjibar on 5 October 2011 killed five AQAP militants. According to Yemeni government officials, a US airstrike on 14 October 2011 killed seven AQAP militants, including Egyptian-born Ibrahim al-Bana, AQAP's media chief.
A drone strike on 22 December 2011 near Zinjibar reportedly killed Abdulrahman al-Wuhayshi, a relative of Yemeni al-Qaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi. A further eight militants were reported killed in an air strike near Jaar on 17 December 2011.
An airstrike, reportedly performed by US aircraft, on 31 January 2012 near the city of Lawder in Abyan province, killed 11 AQAP militants. The dead reportedly included Abdul Monem al-Fahtani, a participant in the USS Cole bombing.
Drones engaged in three attacks over three days from 9–11 March 2012. The first strike targeted an AQAP hideout near Al Baydah, Baydah province, reportedly killing local AQAP leader Abdulwahhab al-Homaiqani and 16 of his militants. The second strike hit Jaar in Abyan province, reportedly killing 20 AQAP fighters. The third strike, also in Jaar, reportedly killed three AQAP militants and targeted a storage location for weapons AQAP had seized after overruning a Yemeni military base in Al Koud the week before. A fourth drone strike on 14 March 2012 in Al Bydah reportedly killed four AQAP militants in a vehicle.
On April 11, 14 militants were killed in a drone strike in Lauder town, northeast of Zinjibar, Abyan province. A drone strike on 22 April in the Al Samadah area, near the border of Marib and Al Jawf provinces, killed AQAP senior leader Mohammed Saeed al Umda (also known as Ghareeb al Taizi).
On 6 May 2012 a suspected US drone strike killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso and another al Qaida militant in southern Shabwa province.
On 12 December 2013, 17 people were killed in a wedding convoy in the District of Rada' which falls in the Governorate of Al-Bayda'. The U.S. drone mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy after intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying suspects of the AQAP organization. Five of the killed had been suspected, but the remainder were civilians.
On 3 March 2014 an airstrike, believed to have been carried out by an American drone, killed three people suspected of being members of AQAP. Mujahid Gaber Saleh al Shabwani, who is one of Yemen's 25 most wanted AQAP operatives, is thought to have been killed in the strike.
On 20 and 21 April 2014, three drone strikes by the US government killed at least two dozen suspected AQAP members and destroyed one of the group's training camps in southern Yemen, according to a statement released by the Yemeni Interior Ministry. In a statement, the group admitted that five civilians had been wounded and three killed during the attack.
On 13 June 2014 a suspected US drone strike targeted a car in the Mafraq al-Saeed area of the Shabwah province, killing five alleged AQAP operatives on board.
It is estimated that a total of 98 US drone attacks have been conducted in Yemen between 2002 and 2015; 41 in 2012, 26 in 2013 and 14 in 2014.
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