Fahd al-Quso, one of the most prominent Yemeni commanders in the Al Qaeda organization, whose name appears on the FBI’s list of ten most wanted terrorists next to that of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, managed to sum up the reason for Al Qaeda’s presence and proliferation throughout Yemen in a simple, or let us say spontaneous manner, better than any research study.
Asharq Al-Awsat brought you a wonderful story on Thursday by our colleague Arafat Madabish, in which he revealed that Fahd al-Quso, one of the most prominent terrorists wanted by the US, is still alive and kicking, and was not killed as previously claimed by the Americans. The Asharq Al-Awsat correspondent met with al-Quso – who is under the protection of his own Awlak tribe – in the mountainous regions of Shabwa province in south-eastern Yemen, obtaining photographing evidence of this encounter. When Arafat Madabish asked al-Quso about the reports of his death in Pakistan, al-Quso expressed surprise about reports of his presence in Pakistan, and in a simple manner he revealed that Al Qaeda knows what it wants, saying “on the contrary, my presence in Yemen is better in light of the crisis situation with the Yemeni government.”
This is the crux of the manner, for Al Qaeda cannot settle in any country that is stable and not suffering from political or security crises, and if the situation deteriorates in Lebanon, God forbid, you will find an Al Qaeda presence there as well. For the process of funding Al Qaeda is one thing, and the process of recruitment is another. As for training, and carrying out terrorist operations, this is another story and something that Al Qaeda cannot do unless there is land – under tribal or sectarian protection – available for training operations and this is something that was readily available in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and today in Yemen. This is something that we said repeatedly, and it angers our brothers in Yemen who believe that we are disparaging our cherished Yemen, however the opposite is true, for what is required is for Al Qaeda to be confronted, not with arms, but with political and religious reform, and support for [Yemeni] stability; Al Qaeda is a plague that only spreads in areas that are rife with conflict and crises.
The Yemeni most wanted terrorist, Fahd al-Quso, also serves as an example of how Al Qaeda members are provided protection in Yemen, for he lives in security under tribal protection, and it seems that he is very relaxed, for he spoke to the Asharq Al-Awsat correspondent very comfortably about receiving offers from the government to surrender himself in return for certain promises and guarantees, saying explicitly that “this is unlikely.”
Therefore, we must be aware that Yemen’s problems are not merely financial, and that these problems require intelligence and patience, and creative ideas that unite the Yemeni ranks. Most importantly of all, Yemen is in need of political action to strengthen the concept of citizenship, and putting the interests of the country first, as well as resolving its outstanding issues whether these are tribal or regional. Yemen is in need of political reform, not blaming others for its problems. It is up to the Yemenis to help themselves in order to allow the international community, and most importantly of all, its Arab neighbors, to provide it with help.
This is not an issue of interfering in Yemen’s internal affairs, for Yemen’s problems have begun to overflow and affect the external world, and this is the major problem today.