Sanaa, Asharq Al-Awsat- An informed Yemeni Government source has revealed to Asharq al-Awsat that before the latest strikes by Yemeni forces, the Al-Qaeda organization had started appointing several of its leaders in charge of Yemeni governorates “as provinces.”
The source who spoke with Asharq Al Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that Abdullah al-Mihdar who was killed by the Yemeni forces yesterday in the Shabwa Governorate was the organization’s emir of the so-called “Shabwa province” and Muhammad Saleh al-Kazimi who was killed in an air raid on Al-Muajjalah area in the Abyan Governorate on 17 December was the emir or official in charge of the training camp that was attacked. Muhammad Ahmad al-Kalawi (Bin-Umayr) who was killed in an air raid on Rafad area in Shabwa Governorate on 24 December and who appeared on satellite channels threatening to target the United States was under the organization’s plans and divisions the emir of “Abyan province.”
The source also said that Al-Mihdar “provided a safe haven” for a large number of Al-Qaeda organization’s members in Yemen, “among them Saudis”, and stressed that more than 25 leading figures were in Al-Mihdar’s house “where he provided them with protection” but they were able to escape a short time before the security forces’ arrival. The source `pointed out that Al-Mihdar was a “hard liner” and “was threatening the mixed gender schools in the region.” It also asserted to this newspaper that the Yemeni forces’ war with Al-Qaeda “is open and will not stop until they are arrested or killed.”
In other news, the Yemeni government today declared open war on al Qaeda and warned its citizens against aiding the terrorist group, however Islamist clerics threatened jihad if foreign military forces intervene.
“The war security forces launched against al Qaeda elements is open whenever or wherever we find these elements, ” the Yemeni Defense Ministry’s online newspaper “September 26” said, quoting an unnamed security source.
“The source warned citizens against hiding any elements from the al Qaeda organization, calling for cooperation with the security apparatus and for them to inform on any elements.”
But a group of 150 Islamist Yemeni clerics called for jihad if there were any foreign military intervention.
“In the event of any foreign party insisting on hostilities against, an assault on, or military or security intervention in Yemen, then Islam requires all its followers to pursue jihad, ” the statement said, signed by 150 clerics in the capital.
Yemen had already intensified operations against al Qaeda since a Yemen-based wing of the group said it was behind a failed Dec. 25 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner. But the U.S. attack has given the campaign new impetus.