Yemen News Agency ( SABA)

Governor: Mareb desert nature attracts al-Qaeda militants

Governor: Mareb desert nature attracts al-Qaeda militants


Edited into English by: Mahmoud Assamiee

SANA'A, Feb. 13 (Saba)- Governor of Mareb Naji al-Zayidi said Mareb's desert nature is a reason of labeling the province as a safe haven for al-Qaeda terrorists, asserting that they have not used the area as a center for their operations.

He affirmed that governorate is no more than breath-taking and a passage between other Yemeni areas and the desert linking Yemen with Saudi Arabia. "Terrorist elements utilize Badwi nature and generosity of the people there."

In an interview with Al Arabiya TV's program {" Sena'at al-Mawt" or Death Industry}, Governor al-Zayidi refuted al-Qaeda existence in Mareb governorate or that they are controlling wide area in the governorate.

Over circulations that Mareb has become a safe haven to al-Qaeda elements and that operations have been carried out from the governorate, he admitted that al-Qaeda's existence is temporary and sporadic. "There is a small number of al-Qaeda elements and is unlike what they exaggerate there is big number of al-Qaeda and locals are joining their ranks."

Even though, he said, the government and local authority in the governorate are chasing them and the security forces have reduced their activities. Because the area is open, these elements were interrupting shepherds and Badwis for giving them lectures under Islam's name but when people knew their problems and dangers, they became disgust of their activities.

Over al-Qaeda affiliated who come from Saudi Arabia, and their focus in Mareb and Shabwa, he said, rebel Saudi elements leave Saudi Arabia and come to the area via the desert road linking the two countries and met in Mareb. They use these governorates because of their desert, the nature and generosity of locals.

He denied that there are training camps to al-Qaeda elements but affirmed that there are tribal people affiliates with them and that when there are intensified military actions, they return to their senses, especially those who are not involved in action harming security.

He talked about two kinds of al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen; leading elements that are brought up on al-Qaeda's doctrine and jobless youth who are attracted by al-Qaeda and authorities could reform most of them.

These elements monopolize the strategic location of the country on the Red and the Arab Seas but they have become stressed more due to successes of military forces. Because of harassment by military forces, some may leave the area and others return to their governorates or countries.

He talked about a group of governorates ( Abyan, Shabwa, Beidha'a, Mareb, al-Jawf and Sa'ada) which are areas attracting terrorists saying if al-Qaeda deploy in these areas, they will pose a danger not only to Yemen but also to the whole region and a threat to world interests.

Regarding sayings that Yemen sometimes slacks in dealing with terrorists, Governor al-Zayidi says Yemen is doing its best despite its limited capabilities but some people minify the country's efforts and efforts of its security forces. "Despite harsh geography of the governorate and limited potentials, Yemen and security force are achieving considerable successes and results, nobody underrates efforts of Yemeni government and army."

On president visit to Mareb last year and his meeting with sheikhs in Mareb in his search for wanted elements (from al-Qaeda and others), the governor said the president came to Mareb and obliged us as officials and Sheikhs to deal with these elements. Praise be to Allah, many of them surrendered and some others have been treated by security forces. The president's visit had positive and active results in cracking down on these elements.

Over American unmanned aerial vehicle screening the area, he was maintained to reveal more about this but said surveillance operations are continuing and al-Qaeda elements are pressed by these operations and security follow up.

Regarding Ayedh al-Shabwani, the young al-Qaeda leader in Mareb, who hosts al-Qaeda elements coming from other countries, al-Zayidi says he is young boy his aged does not exceed 23 years. He is used by other al-Qaeda elements, from inside and outside Yemen. They use his farm located in a road linking the desert area from the north, northwestern and southeastern road and from east southern road which means his farm is open land where elements meet there but we receive information that they leave the area after their meeting.

He further said Al-Shabwani receives from 15- 20 elements in his farm and he may be has heavy medium weapons because of the nature of Mareb governorate which is used by weapon merchants, drugs traffickers and al-Qaeda elements.

In Regard to securing Mareb governorate, Governor of Mareb Naji al-Zayidi says security needs complete support and the area needs development, roads need to be secured. He further said young people need work opportunities, promoting tourism and improving infrastructure.

In regard to learning centers in Mareb, governor al-Zayidi said there are centers receiving students from a number of countries, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Pakistan, Iran and Somalia. But says these centers are controlled by the government.

Over existence al-Qaeda leaders; Naser al-Wahishi, Saeed al-Shihri and Qasem al-Raimi, al-Zayidi says these elements are not exist permanently in Mareb but they come to the area and go from time to time. He admitted that he has a relative affiliated with al-Qaeda and this relative is asking the governor to surrender himself to the authority but the governor demands insurances for this surrender.


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