How disturbing was the initial statement attributed to a Yemeni source that was published in the Washington Post following the young Nigerian Omar Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a US Delta plane. The official told the newspaper, “If and when the would-be bomber’s alleged link to Yemen is officially identified, authorities will take immediate action.” The source added that the Americans are yet to present any information [on the incident] to his country.
What is worrying is that in our Arab world, there are still people among us who are asking for proof; as if all these crimes being committed in the name of religion and in our countries and elsewhere are not enough that we still [need to] look for evidence. It’s as if we’re talking about a shop burglary or an ordinary murder case.
It is enough to look carefully at the initial response from Nigeria in comparison to the response from Yemen; Nigerian officials were the first to provide the media with information on the terrorist’s identity and that in fact, his father was the first one to alert the US embassy of his son’s intentions before the incident took place. Moreover, religious figures in Nigeria condemned the terrorist act and warned of its danger. Yemen, on the other hand, spoke about evidence and we have Sanaa admitting that the young man visited Yemen and stayed there on the pretext of studying the Arabic language!
The problem here is that the size of Al Qaeda in Yemen and the spread of this group is no longer a secret. We have recently seen how some leaders of the organization are coming out openly in front of the television cameras and the Yemeni government itself revolted against Al Qaeda last week and carried out major operations against the organization; so why the hesitation and hypersensitivity?
The comments made by a security official last Monday were comforting when, in response to the statement released by Al Qaeda that claimed [responsibility for] the failed attempt to blow up the US airplane, he stressed that his country, “will never be a safe haven for those killer terrorists and drug traffickers, and its [Yemen’s] mountains will never be a Tora Bora for them.”
I have no doubt that Yemen wants to combat Al Qaeda but that will not happen if there is hesitation and hypersensitivity, especially as some regions in Yemen [already] pose more of a threat than Tora Bora. Al Qaeda is a plague, which [Yemen] should not be sensitive about declaring war upon and the first stage of that war is about information and exchanging information quickly. The best example here is the US Delta plane incident as it is evidence of a gross security error and negligence. The father of the young Nigerian man himself informed [authorities] of his son and the British refused him a visa to enter their country. However, the US security apparatus failed in using the information [it had] and only by the grace of God was a major disaster prevented.
Today, after all the terrorist acts we have seen, it is no longer acceptable to justify terrorism or to be hyper sensitive about fighting terrorism because we have all become victims. It is true that Yemen needs friendly states to stand by it against terrorism but Yemen must firstly stand by itself by providing its friends with information, not only in terms of security but also in terms of the media in order to mobilize public opinion against terrorism and terrorists.