Sana’a and Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Interior Ministry in Yemen has said it has rejected Al-Qaeda’s apology for the December 5 attack on the Defense Ministry complex in the capital Sana’a, which killed 56 people.
Interior Ministry Spokesman, Brig-Gen Mohamed Al-Qaedi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Qaeda’s apology was not acceptable and described their crime as “sadistic and heinous,” adding that “we cannot open the door to any discussions about this crime.”
Brigadier General Qaedi said Al-Qaeda’s apology was a farce, adding that the crime they had committed at the hospital contravened all norms, customs and traditions. “We are not surprised by their disregard for human life,” he said.
He added: “The organization has declared war on the innocent, and the state must not accept any offers from them.” He also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Qaeda was responsible for many more attacks by bombs and explosives around the country which targeted innocent people, but which were not caught on camera.
Meanwhile Brig-Gen Fahmi Mahrous, Hadhramaut Security chief, also rejected the apology. In a telephone call to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said the Al-Qaeda attacks had killed children on their way to school using improvised explosive devices.
Mahrous said the targeting of security officers was also questionable as they were also citizens, adding that “this group [Al-Qaeda] is driven by a deviant ideology even if they try to wriggle out of their crimes.”
Qassim Al-Rimi, commander of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said late on Saturday evening in a video posted on militant websites that the attackers were warned in advance not to enter the hospital within the Defense Ministry complex, or to enter any place for prayer there. But he admitted that one fighter did.
Appearing on Al-Qaeda’s media arm Al-Mallahem, Rimi said: “We offer our apology and condolences to the victims’ families. We accept full responsibility for what happened in the hospital and will pay blood money for the victims’ families.”
Rimi said the attack did not target the hospital, and blames one member of the group who did not adhere to orders and entered the hospital. He said the target of the attack was a control room in the Defense Ministry, and that this “control room provided targets to American drones which carried out attacks in Yemen against Al-Qaeda.”
Rimi added: “We attacked the Ministry, especially the building of the command of the Defense Ministry. This building is where the drone control center for the ministry is located, turning it from a ministry which pretends to protect the public, into a ministry which provides American drones with information.”
He also reiterated the group’s position that “any ministry or military base becomes a legitimate target to Al-Qaeda if it were proven to collaborate with the American Air Force.” He said Al-Qaeda had a long list of such military bases.
This is the first appearance by the AQAP military leader since the Yemen authorities announced his death at the start of 2010 in an area between Saada and Al-Jawf.
Rimi was born in 1947 in the Rima governorate, south west of the capital Sana’a. Asharq Al-Awsat sources confirm that Rimi directly supervised the attack on the Defense Ministry Complex in his role as the military commander of the group.
The complex in the Aardhi district near old Sana’a was the scene of a massacre on December 5, when the side of the building was hit by a car-bomb attack, followed by an attack by men wearing military uniforms at the hospital.
CCTV footage broadcast by Yemeni TV showed a number of armed men in military uniform attacking people inside the hospital, including doctors and nurses from the Philippines, Germany, India and Vietnam, in addition to many Yemenis.