Written By: Abdul-Aziz Oudah
Article Date: Feb 10, 2009 - 5:57:44 AM
In a battle which seems to mark the decisive struggle between Yemen and terrorism, a well-informed source has said anti-terrorism forces were moved last Thursday towards the hideouts of terrorists to begin a crucial battle. Military forces are being led by general Rashad al-Masri, the Interior Minister, in coordination with the other branches of the armed forces.
Sources have said the campaign will attack terrorist hideouts, as well as narcotic and weapons trafficking camps, both of which are thought to have strong links with terrorist networks. The campaign is targeting Mareb, al-Jawf, Shabwa and Hadramout.
The sources said the President has granted wide-ranging powers to the Minister of the Interior, who enjoys the President’s confidence after displaying the firm will to deal with such problems.
The Minister of the Interior has sent a strong ultimatum to all targeted areas, warning that the joint security campaign will attack any area suspected of harboring wanted suspects. Any person or group harboring wanted individuals will be held accountable for such actions.
He also sent an address to all participating units to raise their morale, and asked them not to allow the wanted suspects to escape the grip of the security forces.
The sources indicated that the newly deployed units will be supporting those already in the field, who began their tactical operations a week ago. They have carried out a limited number of operations so far, but results have been promising following the arrest of tens of suspects, these suspects have now given information described as crucial to the country’s security.
The campaign came in the wake of a joint Yemeni-Saudi operation for the synchronized deployment of the two countries’ troops along their borders to prevent crossings by wanted elements. Security forces have used the lessons they have learned following past crossings, especially after actions by both governments to crack down on wanted individuals in their respective countries intensified. Security measures have been stepped up following the declaration of the merger of al-Qaeda forces in both countries, forming the so called “Al-Qaeda in Arabia Peninsula.”
There were daily visits between the security leadership of both countries through all of last week. The two countries formed a joint operation room to follow the decisive battle with terrorism, taking advantage of the logistical and intelligence cooperation from western countries, including America. Allied countries are now ready in case some of the suspects try to escape through the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa. Patrols have been intensified along the Red Sea coastal areas, following visits by security officials from allied forces.
As Saudi Arabia announced a list of 85 wanted suspects, it is widely believed that al-Qaeda is the weakest it has ever been, especially following a series of strikes by Yemeni security forces against their cells in Hadramout, Marib and Sana’a during a year-long campaign.
Interior Minister General al-Masri, said in clarification though of the recent announcement of 4,000 suspects wanted by security forces that the individuals had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, but rather they were wanted for criminal matters. He said they are not linked in any way to al-Qaeda, which has been subject to devastating strikes by security forces, including one in Sana’a last week.
He explained that the announcement concerning the wanted individuals, through his ministry’s Security Information Center is part of the Ministry’s policy of transparency in dealing with security issues. He also announced that the number of people wanted for murder, burglary, highway robbery and theft was 6,014 in 2008, with 57.4 percent of wanted individuals apprehended.
He stated that the ministry will not allow wanted individuals to escape, and he indicated there was a special focus on dangerous individuals, wanted for murder, kidnapping and highway banditry crimes, as they pose a serious risk to community security and stability.
He directed people’s attention to the reward offered by security for assistance in catching Ali Abo Rawya, a man made famous for his acts of murder, burglary, banditry and theft. He is one of the most wanted men by security forces, and he will be hunted down by all means.
Al-Masri said the Ministry of the Interior has managed to arrest over 50 wanted individuals in their recent crackdown, including people wanted for kidnapping, murder and highway banditry. He has called on the people to stand by security forces in their campaign by reporting the presence of any fugitives to the nearest police station. He added that this is the duty of any individual who wants to see stability in Yemen.
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