Written By: Nasser Arrabyee
Article Date: May 1, 2012 - 8:02:04 PM
Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Yemen released on Saturday 73 Yemeni soldiers it was holding prisoner in the southern province of Abyan.
Before the intervention of tribal leaders, the soldiers all faced a death sentenced as the Islamic militants warned that unless their own men were set free by the Yemeni government they would kill the war prisoners, to the rate of ten a week.
The announcement which provoked public outrage and much condemnation from local clerics as they argued that the killing of Muslims were prohibited in Islam, prompted the organization of a tribal mediation committee which worked hard at convincing Ansar al-Sharia to let the men go.
Although in relative good health given the psychological strains the soldiers were put under for the past few weeks, sources close to the matter told the Yemen Observer that the soldiers felt abandoned by the state, accusing President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi of using them as “meat for the cannons”.
The detainees’ families also expressed their disappointment in the state, saying that Sana’a, should treat its men with more respect, especially when it was they who were putting their lives on the line every passing day against al-Qaeda.
A retired General, Ali Mohsen al-Matari said “soldiers need to feel supported by their country; otherwise they lose courage and faith in what they’re doing.”
Sheikh Awad Bangar led the negotiation which saw the release of all prisoners.
Kasem Al Raymi, AQAP military commander, and Tarek Al Fadhli, attended the speech ceremony in which a total of 73 soldiers and 13 other men were released by al Qaeda.
Some of the detainees' families and journalists, and human rights activists from Hood and Al Karama organizations, as well as cleric, Awadh Ba Najjar were also present.
Kasem Al Raymi, an AQAQ military commander, was masked while he was speaking to journalists and right activists.
A masked man came with tens of bodyguards around him, and sat next to the leaders of Ansar al Asharia, like Jalal Beleidi, and Tarek Al Fadhli, said journalists who attended the ceremony. “Kasme Al Raymi was the only one masked,” they added
"The local people of Jaar told us, the masked man was Kasem Al Raymi," said Anis Mansour, one of the journalists who attended.
"We released the detainees today, although our detainees are still languishing in the prisons of the Sanaa government," said a statement distributed to journalists.
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