Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Yemen’s Muslim brotherhood deny ties to Al-Qaeda | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Muhammad Qahtan, head of the political department and official spokesman of the Yemeni Reform Group [YRG] (Muslim Brotherhood), has denied the existence of any connections between Al-Qaeda and the YRG, stressing that Anwar al-Awlaki did not have any ties to any YRG member or element.

He disclosed that the party had issued in the past strict instructions about the dangers of Al-Qaeda organization and terrorism while underlining the need that no party member should get involved with any Al-Qaeda elements, adding that all the names announced by the Yemeni authorities had no connection with the YRG. He asserted that Khamis Arfaj, who was named by the official Yemeni quarters as Al-Awlaki’s bodyguard in his house is not from the party and stressed that no YRG member has this name.

The comment follows the announcement on the ruling General People’s Congress website citing what it called an authoritative source as saying that Al-Awlaki was killed on Friday “as he was leaving the house of Khamis Arfaj, one of the YRG leaders in Al-Jawf Governorate who was nominated by the party as a candidate for Hazm al-Jawf district in 2003.” The source added that the house of Arfaj “was and is still used as one of the secret hideouts for sheltering Al-Qaeda organization’s leaders and elements, holding secret meetings, and planning terrorist operations in addition to stockpiling weapons.”

The YRG is one of the largest opposition parties in Yemen and was established after the unity between the two Yemens on 13 September 1990 by Abdullah Bin-Hussein al-Ahmar, the tribal chief of the Hashid tribes, as a political grouping with an Islamic background and an extension of the MB ideology. The party included at first some salafist sheikhs and tribal chiefs who were politically influential for the purpose of achieving political gathering and uniting their stands under the state’s umbrella.

Several Yemeni observers considered the aim behind the YRG establishment — which was in agreement with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and in its structure that brought together the MB, the party’s backbone, and traditional salafists like Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Zindani, and the jihadists in addition to the tribal chiefs – was to set up a counter trend and pressure card that Saleh used against the leftist trend that was on the rise in Yemen.

On his part, Muhammad al-Saadi, the YRG’s assistant secretary general, asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat that he personally did not know who was Khamis Arfaj and never heard of him before. He pointed out that this is one of the regime’s latest jokes with which it sought to shuffle cards and complicate the Yemeni situation further.

Al-Saadi denied vehemently accusations of a relationship between the YRG and Al-Qaeda, saying his party’s ideology is known in the Yemeni, Arab, and international arenas and its condemnation of terrorism, which is a firm and clear stand, does not need explanation.

Regarding reports in the Yemeni press that YRG leaders Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, Hamid al-Ahmar, and Abdullah Saatar offered their condolences on the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki while the MB and YRG militias vowed to avenge him which was made, according to the Yemeni press, following contacts Al-Zindani, Al-Ahmar, and Saatar held with YRG leaders and other Al-Qaeda leaders in Marib, Al-Jawf, and Shabwah Governorates at which they expressed their deep condolences for the killing of Al-Awlaki and several of his companions considering his loss a big one since he was one of the symbols of jihad in the cause of raising the banner of justice, the YRG Assistant Secretary General Muhammad al-Saadi denied vehemently any contacts with Al-Zindani or Sheikh Al-Ahmar after Al-Awlaki’s assassination. He said Al-Zindani, Al-Ahmar, and Saatar “represent themselves in the matter of offering condolences on Al-Awlaki’s killing.” But he added that offering condolences “is a human, social, and Islamic duty and has nothing to do with political or organizational action.”

As to the YRG’s stand on Al-Awlaki’s killing, Al-Saadi stressed that the party “does not denounce or support the killing of Al-Awlaki. We are not specifically required to define a stand on every matter.”