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Yemen’s Qaeda: Arwa, Anas Baghdadi Killed in Baida Operation

AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi. Getty Images

AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi

Washington- The leader of al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch swore revenge after a U.S. raid on a compound last month killed several terrorists and some civilians.

Qasim al-Raymi, head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), accused the U.S. of killing civilians in the Jan. 29 raid in an 11-minute audio address.

He confirmed that the operation carried out by U.S. elite forces against al-Qaeda in Baida province killed a number of the group’s militants, including fugitive Arwa Baghdadi, her son Osama and her brother Anas Baghdadi.

He added: “Anas’ wife was injured as they were all at the stronghold of the organization in Yemen.”

He noted that the operation also resulted in the deaths of the wives of two members of the organization.

Al-Raymi, also known as Abu Hurayrah, who is wanted in many countries for being affiliated with al-Qaeda, sent an indirect message in the 11- minute audio to announce that he wasn’t killed in the raid.

He pointed out that a prominent figure in the organization, Abdelilah al-Dhahab, was not killed but the latter’s son had died.

An American Special Forces unit attacked the AQAP compound in Baida on Jan. 29, killing militants and possibly some civilians, according to U.S. officials.

A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in a firefight and three American soldiers were wounded.

U.S. special operations forces had mounted the raid in the Yakla region of Baida against AQAP, which Washington viewed as the global terror network’s most dangerous branch.

On the AQAP side, 14 fighters, including women, were killed, according to the Pentagon.

Arwa Baghdadi, one of al-Qaeda’s members, had fled Saudi Arabia after a court convicted her on terror charges.

She escaped with her son Osama, her brother Anas, known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his Egyptian wife. They were all killed in the U.S. raid except for Anas’ wife, according to al-Raymi’s announcement.

Arwa had married suspected al-Qaeda member Yassin al-Barakati while she was detained in prison, and after getting divorced she married Salem al-Sharif who was mourned by the organization’s head in the audio.

She stood accused of joining al-Qaeda and of being involved with the “misguided group.” Arwa was bailed out of jail in 2012 and fled the next year.

(Source / 06.02.2017)

Breaking: Ballistic missile strikes Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

According to emerging reports from Yemen, a surface-to-surface missile fired by the Yemeni Army has hit Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

The missile was launched on Sunday evening, and sources in Yemen have described the missile test as successful.  It is unclear exactly what missile was used, and casualty figures, if any, are yet to be reported.

Saudi Arabia militarily intervened in the Yemeni Conflict in 2015, leading a coalition of almost 10 Middle Eastern countries. In October 2016, a Yemeni activist warned that Riyadh was the next target for a Yemeni missile attack.

Update 1: More information has emerged, suggesting that the missile was a variant of a Russian Scud, known as the “Borkan” surface-to-surface missile.

Update 2: Sources indicate that the missile struck a military base West of Riyadh, in Mazahimiyah.

Update 3: On social media, a Saudi attempts to cover-up the attack, saying that the sound of the explosion in Riyadh was an earthquake or meteor.

Update 4: Co-Founder of Mona Relief, a Yemeni charity, Dr. RS Karim, has reported that his contacts in Riyadh told him that a state of emergency has been declared.

Follow Reporter on Twitter for Updates: @SulimanM98

Suliman Mulhem is a British-Syrian journalist. He writes for @SputnikInt, a Russian Media Outlet, and @TheArabSource.

(Source / 06.02.2017)

U.S. Warships Target al-Qaeda Stronghold in Abyan

U.S. President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka walk out of the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Feb. 1, 2017. Photographer: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka walk out of the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Feb. 1, 2017

Virginia- An al-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen’s Abyan province was targeted on Thursday most likely by U.S. warships, four days after a U.S. operation against the organization in central Yemen, tribal sources said.

Six members of the Yemeni police were also killed in an al-Qaeda ambush in Abyan, security sources revealed.

A roadside bomb went off, targeting a convoy carrying 30 Yemeni security officers from Abyan to Aden, said a security source. “An exchange of gunfire with al-Qaeda fighters ensued, leaving six of our men killed and others injured,” a security source said.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip to Dover Air Force Base on Wednesday to honor the returning remains of the United States Navy SEAL officer who was killed over the weekend in a raid in Yemen. It was the first U.S. fatality from such operation during the term of the new administration.

The president was joined by his daughter Ivanka to offer condolences to the family of Navy SEAL Team Chief Special Warfare Operator William Ryan Owens.

The U.S. Central Command said in a statement that an investigating team had “concluded regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed” during the U.S. raid on an al-Qaeda compound in Baida province on Sunday.

The Central Command said its assessment “seeks to determine if there were any still-undetected civilian casualties in the raid.”

“It’s hard to ever call something a complete success, when you have the loss of life or people injured,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.

As a result, the attacking SEALs team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al-Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed extremists.

Officials added that former U.S. President Barack Obama rejected conducting the operation before leaving the White House.

(Source / 03.02.2017)

US raids in Yemen bolstering al-Qaeda: Think tank

This file photo shows al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen.

This file photo shows al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen

A Belgium-based think tank has warned about al-Qaeda advances in Yemen as a result of foreign military interventions in the country, including a recent deadly attack by elite US forces.

“The Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda is stronger than it has ever been,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a Thursday report on the spread of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The report was released after Sunday’s US air raid ordered by President Donald Trump on Bayda province in which more than a dozen civilians were killed in attacks on a school, a mosque and a hospital.

“The first military actions by the [US President Donald] Trump administration in Yemen bode poorly for the prospect of smartly and effectively countering AQAP,” read the report.

Although the US has said the strike killed at least 14 suspected terrorists and one US Navy force, the ICG said the death toll included “many civilians, including at least 10 women and children.”

The think tank warned that similar attacks could escalate fear and anti-US sentiments among civilians, laying the groundwork for recruitment by AQAP.

“The use of US soldiers, high civilian casualties and disregard for local tribal and political dynamics… plays into AQAP’s narrative of defending Muslims against the West and could increase anti-US sentiment and with it AQAP’s pool of recruits,” it said.

According to a Yemeni provincial official in Bayda, the US attack on Sunday killed 41 suspected militants and 16 civilians, eight of whom were women and eight children.

AQAP, however, announced in a statement that the strike killed 30 people “only women and children… with some tribal leaders who have no connections” to the group.

The al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen has taken advantage of the chaos fueled by a deadly Saudi military campaign to tighten its grip on parts of southeast Yemen.

The Takfiri Daesh group has also gained ground in and around the main southern city of Aden after the army and their Houthi allies were evicted by the Saudi-led offensive launched in support of the former Hadi government.

Riyadh’s attacks have killed at least 11,400 people in the kingdom’s impoverished neighbor since March 2015, according to the latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.

Demonstrators protest in Chicago, Illinois, on February 1, 2017, against US President Donald Trump’s entry ban on the citizens of seven Muslim nations

Yemenis stranded in Djibouti

Apart from the deadly strike on Bayda, Trump’s orders continue to harm the routine lives of more Yemeni civilians.

Over 200 Yemenis with US visas have been stranded in Djibouti following the US president’s ban on the entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. More than half of the stranded Yemenis are children.

Many of the stranded Yemenis in Djibouti have expressed frustration over their conditions, saying that they are running out of money and that they cannot return home fearing for their lives.

The US Embassy in Djibouti has posted an online notice, telling the citizens of the seven countries affected by Trump’s order, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and those with dual nationalities, not to schedule visa appointments or even attend existing visa appointments.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

Bloody Struggle among Comrades in Aden

April 20, 2015: People queue to fill containers with water amid an acute shortage of clean drinking water in Sana'a. Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters

April 20, 2015: People queue to fill containers with water amid an acute shortage of clean drinking water in Sana’a

Washington- CIA archive declassified documents on People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, previously known as South Yemen in the seventies and eighties of the past century. Any researcher specialized in Yemeni affairs will come to realize that this region was almost shut in front of the U.S. intelligence to an extent that the agency entrusted with spying over the world failed to figure out what happened in the bloody Massacre on the morning of Jan. 13 .

CIA Version of the South Incidents

On Feb. 4 1980, a memorandum consisting of three pages was sent from one party to another in the CIA. Most of the parties opposing the regime escaped, were executed or imprisoned. Yet, according to the memo, communication remained between regime members and exiled comrades in the north, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The First Coup

In June 1969, the most radical wing of National Liberation Front (NLF) conducted the first coup that ousted the moderate leadership. In 1970, procedures were taken to diminish the tribal identity and prevent residents in the six provinces from using their tribal nicknames.

The memorandum described the seventies of the past century as a phase that witnessed a conflict over power between two eminent leaders in the country: Salem Rabih Ali and Abdul Fattah Ismail who took over power after the second coup in June 1978 when Salem was assassinated and many of his followers fled to the north.

Military Arrogance

Another CIA report tackled the rule of Ali Nasir Muhammad and the conflicts which introduced the massacre of 1986. Conflicts originated from the fact that Ali Nasir moved some of his rivals to positions that seemed important but were actually not.

Soviet Power

Moscow is unwilling to fall into the trap of Yemeni political conflicts, revealed the report. It did not want to risk its position in the country through siding with one party over the other. Direct intervention in political conflicts in Aden is unnecessary because Moscow has the ability to affect the policy of South Yemen through calls with the government – the soviet power in the Yemeni Socialist Party and the Yemeni government is huge.

January 13 Massacre

A report was issued on Jan. 14, one day after the massacre of Jan. 13 in Aden, however information it was blatantly insufficient.The report focused on the return of Abdul Fattah Ismail from Moscow shortly before the coup to prove that Moscow stood behind the coup. But later on, what happened appeared to be a massacre that targeted four leaders, not a coup.

(Source / 01.02.2017)

SEAL Team 6 Raid In Yemen Kills 57, Including Woman And Children

The raid reportedly lasted less than an hour, and left a large number of women and children riddled with bullets, including at least one eight-year-old girl.

President-elect Donald Trump, center, listens to a member of the military in the stands as he watches an Army-Navy NCAA college football game at M&T Bank Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, in Baltimore. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

President-elect Donald Trump, center, listens to a member of the military in the stands as he watches an Army-Navy NCAA college football game at M&T Bank Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, in Baltimore

(REPORT) —  Pentagon officials confirmed that Navy SEAL Team 6 attacked what they described as an “al-Qaeda headquarters” in Yemen’s central Bayda Province, bragging of killing “about 14” al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters and taking a cache of information. They reported a single soldier killed.

Absent from the Pentagon’s account of what happened over the course of the raid, which supposedly lasted less than an hour, and left a large number of women and children riddled with bullets, including at least one eight-year-old girl named Nora, the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US cleric who was assassinated by the Obama Administration. The Cairo AP office reported receiving photographs showing the bodies of several young children who were shot multiple times during the raid.  Roughly 57 people were killed overall, according to Yemeni officials, though they claimed a lot more AQAP fighters slain than the US reckoning of 14. Either way, a substantial number of civilians were among the slain.

Awlaki’s 2011 assassination was hugely controversial, both because he was a US citizen killed on the orders of the Obama Administration and because the administration declined to charge him with any crimes beforehand, simply presenting his sermons as proof of terrorism. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was assassinated, again on Obama’s order, two weeks later.

Officials say this raid had initially been proposed to President Obama but wasn’t approved until after President Trump took office and signed off on the plan. Even with the Pentagon ignoring all the slain children, the narrative isn’t exactly one of a super successful first ground raid into Yemen going off without a hitch.

“Pentagon officials confirmed the death of one US soldier in the fighting. Three other soldiers were wounded during the raid, and a fourth was wounded in the initial evacuation attempt, in which the V-22 Osprey crashed into the ground during a failed landing.

(Source / 30.01.2017)

US soldier killed in Yemen raid on Al-Qaeda, local officials say women & children among casualties

US soldier killed in Yemen raid on Al-Qaeda, local officials say women & children among casualties

A US special operations soldier has been killed and three others wounded in a surprise raid against Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. Local officials say 41 Al-Qaeda militants, as well as 16 civilians, were killed in the attack.

A statement released by the US Central Command on Sunday said another service member was injured in a “hard landing” nearby. The aircraft was damaged as well, and was destroyed in place, the report said.

The US report said 14 Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the assault. The raid is said to have provided “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”

The raid in the rural Yakla district of al-Bayda province apparently targeted a local Al-Qaeda branch and its leader, Abdulraoof al-Dhahab, local witnesses and officials told journalists.

“The operation began at dawn when a drone bombed the home of Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and then helicopters flew up and unloaded paratroopers at his house and killed everyone inside,”
one resident said, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“Next, the gunmen opened fire at the US soldiers, who left the area, and the helicopters bombed the gunmen and a number of homes and led to a large number of casualties,” he added.

The houses of three tribal chiefs were targeted in the attack, according to regional sources cited by AFP. The sources also said Apache helicopters had struck a school, a mosque, and a medical facility, all of which were being used by the Al-Qaeda militants.

There have been conflicting reports on the number of those killed. The US report said 14 Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the assault. The raid is said to have provided “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”

The highest death toll – 57 people, including 16 civilians (eight women and eight children among them) was cited by officials who spoke with AFP. The news agency’s report said that three alleged senior militant leaders were among those killed in the raid.

Reuters reported that 30 people were killed, including 10 women and three children, citing medics at the scene.

Yemeni security and tribal officials told AP that the fighting had lasted around 45 minutes, with the US troops killing three alleged Al-Qaeda members. They also killed or wounded some two dozen men, including some Saudis at the site.

It was the first American ground operation in Yemen since the country descended into civil war two years ago, and the third overall. The US is already involved in Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, providing targeting intelligence and air refueling for the Saudi-led coalition, which is backing one side in the conflict.

Earlier in December of 2014, US commandos tried to rescue two hostages, an American and a South African, in another part of the country, but the captives were killed in the firefight.

The US has also conducted dozens of airstrikes on suspected fighters in Yemen as part of its fight against AQAP, or Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a branch of the international terrorist organization.

(Source / 29.01.2017)

Houthi-Saleh Militias Collapse in Taiz, New Locations Liberated in Mocha

Southern People's Resistance militants loyal to Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi move a tank from the al-Anad air base in the country's southern province of Lahej

Southern People’s Resistance militants loyal to Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi move a tank from the al-Anad air base in the country’s southern province of Lahej March 24, 2015

Taiz- Making new advances, Yemen’s army units announced freeing new locations at the key coastal area of Mocha from the control of coup militias and that were packed by Iran-aligned Houthis.

Located in the Taiz governorate, Mocha city has long been exploited by militants to smuggle arms. Coup militias are chiefly composed of Iran-aligned Houthis and armed loyalists fighting by the side of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Backed by Saudi-led Arab Coalition airpower, pro-government forces took a forceful push into putschists’ enclave in the Hodeidah Governorate.

Advances were seen across institutional complexes, Mocha’s eastern security district—areas put under pro-government control now undergo extensive mine sweeps, military sources said.

Army units revealed that, backed by coalition airstrikes, militia locations in eastern Mocha city were targeted. It is also worth mentioning that earlier this week the strategic port was announced fully liberated from the coup upperhand alongside a number of eastern city areas.

Early January, in cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition, pro-government forces launched a military offensive called ‘Al-Romh al-Thahabi’ –Arabic for Golden Spear-, in an effort to liberate the national western coastline.

Progress in Taiz- achieved after fierce street-to-street battles- and Al-Baidaa province has also been reported. The Yemeni army is now in control of most of the eastern coast, which has been an entry route for smuggling Iranian artillery to Houthi insurgents.

Coup militias in Taiz currently experience an overall collapse among ranks, as it continues to experience defeat facing army forces backed by heavy coalition air power featuring Apache helicopters.

More so, Apache helicopters flew on Thursday night bombing militia-run sites in the Yemeni border mountains of Tawr al-Hashim.

The militias had situated themselves in these mountains to carry out armed attacks on the Saudi border town of Najran.

Military sources reported that the militias began their attack by launching thermal missiles as well as mortars on Saudi military sites and some populated areas.

(Source / 28.01.2017)

Sana’a Airport in Yemen within Military Fire Range

A Yemeni loyalist forces' tank patrols highway in the Red Sea port town of Mocha.

A Yemeni loyalist forces’ tank patrols highway in the Red Sea port town of Mocha

Aden, Taiz- Yemeni armed forces continue advancing across all battlefronts taking place at the insurgency-held enclave, Sana’a. Pro-government forces have recorded a considerable push into Sana’a’s Nihm district, local sources said.

The Sana’a airport is now brought into military fire-range, said Popular Resistance Abdullah al Sahndaqi told Asharq Al-Awsat. Houthi-led militias have been exploiting the Sana’a airport against the international community.

In exchange of allowing aid planes to land at the airport, militias want to have the green light on resuming ‘civil’ flights at the airport.

Renewed fighting in Nihm is both fierce and intense, al Shandaqi said.

“Pro-government forces have liberated strategic mountains overlooking the areas Harshafa and Daboua,” added al Shandaqi.

“At least 16 insurgency militants have been killed, and dozens wounded .. another seven were arrested, ” he said.

The Popular Resistance spokesman explained that the areas brought into government control oversees Sana’a’s eastern gates and will greatly aid in future endeavors to free the capital from insurgency hold.

Iran-aligned militants continue to record losses amidst a substantial lowering of morale. Aided by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition forces, the Yemeni National Army and Popular Resistance succeeded in weakening insurgency, chiefly composed of Iran-backed Houthi and Saleh militias, in a number of the Yemeni directorates. Dissent continues to grow louder among the Yemeni tribes against these militias.

Yemeni tribes revealed that Houhti and Saleh militias have come to enforce foreign agendas seeking to destroy Yemen.

Political analysts said that these facts have made the tribes to withdraw fighters from the troops of coup militias while the Houhti and ousted Saleh militias are forcing students to join their ranks.

Taiz, one of the key battlegrounds on which national forces have pushed through, have come under repeated rebel fire.

A medical source at the city’s Al-Rawda hospital told AFP that seven civilians were also wounded by the insurgency’s mortar fire.

A loyalist military source said that the rockets struck one after the other in the city’s Al-Nour district.

The National Army and the Popular Resistance have made a significant progress on seven fronts under the air support of the Arab coalition.

(Source / 22.01.2017)

Bahraini, Yemeni Officials: Iran Is the One to Change Its Policies

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (Reuters)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Manama –Iran should change its policies in the region and Saudi Arabia plays an important role in fighting terrorism, two Bahraini and Yemeni officials confirmed.

The officials’ statement came in response to President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement asking Saudi Arabia to “take the right decision”, end its military intervention in Yemen and stop what he called its meddling in Bahraini affairs.

Bahraini Minister of Information Affairs Ali al-Rumaihi told Asharq al-Awsat that it’s about time Iran change its policies in the region so that everyone can cooperate with it. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia has never interfered in the domestic Bahraini affairs, and is rather a supporter of what is best for the Bahraini kingdom.

Rumaihi pointed out that Saudi Arabia is fighting terrorism and has a vital role in the stability and security of the region.

The Bahraini minister added that Rouhani’s statement should be directed at Iran, because it should change its strategies.

Yemeni government spokesperson Rajeh Badi said that Iran ignited the war in Yemen, adding that Rouhani’s announcement is the biggest evidence of its involvement in the ongoing struggle.

The spokesperson confirmed that Riyadh didn’t intervene in Yemeni affairs and is fighting terrorism.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Badi said that Saudi Arabia backed the legitimacy in Yemen and led an Arab coalition to support Yemen. He added that Iran and its militias, Houthi and Saleh, have been defeated in Saada, Maerib, and other districts.

According to Badi, what Rouhani said reflects Iran’s suffer due to its failure.

The spokesperson wondered who initiated the war, stressing that if Tehran seriously intended to stop the war, it should have suspended Houthi and Saleh’s militias. He added that both Houthi and Saleh formed a coalition sponsored by Iran.

(Source / 18.01.2017)