SANA’A, June 26 — A leading Al-Qaeda figure confirmed to the Yemen Times that the fight in Abyan governorate, which has displaced over 1,300 families from the governorate, is against Al-Qaeda warriors and other cooperating “armed groups” that do not belong to Al-Qaeda, but share the same aim on the ground.
Locals told the Yemen times that security forces didn’t fight the armed groups as effectively as they could, so that they could to show the world that the southern part of Yemen is always under threat of terrorism, and that they could only be unified with the north under the current regime’s control.
Mohamed Khanbash, a lieutenant colonial from a village only 20 km away from Zinjibar, said that it was easy for the armed groups to overcome the city and government facilities.
“They [the regime] want to send a message to the US that the Joint Meeting Party or the revolutionaries are those behind the armed groups in Abyan, to make the US take a position against the revolution,” said Khanbash.
Although the locals believe the armed groups are sent by the regime, they try to keep them out of their villages in order to avoid drone strikes. “We advise some of these armed people not to enter our villages to avoid troubles and they listen,” said Khanbesh.
“The authority wants to create chaos in the south. They are doing their worst against us with their policies,” said a local from Abyan.
Khalid Al-Abd, a local journalist from Loder in Abyan, said that the situation is in Loder is terrible, with long queues for fuel and gas, and business completely stopped.
“The armed groups in Zinjibar are originally from Loder. They were found by some of the regime figures in Sana’a who are claiming their support for the revolution now,” said Al-Abd.
“What’s happening in Abyan should be questioned this way: why is the fight against terrorists happening only in the south and not in the north? It’s a play to make unification sound like the only solution to counter terrorism,” he added.
“We are stronger than ever,” said an Al-Qeada member who asked to remain anonymous.
Although there has been no official statement from the White House that the drone strikes used against armed groups in Abyan are American, Yemeni security experts say the drones are American. The New York Times reported a US official as saying that the Obama administration is using the country’s power vacuum to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets.
The fact that American drones strikes against a Yemeni city provokes Al-Qaeda and makes them strengthen their operations according to an Al-Qaeda member, and gains them more local support.
“Every day they are striking civilians. It’s a crime against humanity,” said a former colonel that was suspended last January. “The armed groups are few, and there is no way they could take over the city unless they were facilitated by officials. And that’s what happened. Everything is under their control,” he added.
The displaced families escaped fearing for their lives to Aden, and were relocated within local schools, according to Islamic Relief Yemen.
Security force officials were replaced in Zinjibar after they escaped according to Adbellah Saeed, head of central security in Modya, Abyan.
After Tuesday’s attack on Al-Hutta, Lahj civilians confirmed to the Yemen Times that the armed groups were known from Al-Hamra village and were not Al-Qaeda members.
“There were crazy explosions the whole night. The armed group were mingling in the city and no one stooped them. But the fight started when we heard that they aimed to control the bank. The security forces only fight when it comes to money, but when our lives might be exposed to danger they don’t care much,” said one of the residents of Al-Hutta.