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15 days in the hospitality of Qaedat Al-Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula

You certainly will be anxious to know the details of the life and behavior of this group when you think to visit them, for a journalist mission or just for the human curiosity. Certainly you will be very afraid, because death is present heavily where this group is present, and the man in his nature, goes away from places where the chances of living decreases with all his scariness, as well as going to it with his own craziness. The presence in the places where chances decrease to getting correct and precise information about this group is worse than being present in the places where chances of life decrease. At least for me, because I’m convinced that what is written and said in the local and foreign media is contrary to what is happening on the ground. That’s why I decided to venture and answer the invitation to visit. On the way, I had in my in my mind many images about the situation there, the general situation of the group, especially my situation with them, how it’s going to be, of course if I reached there or to them safely, especially that the sound of the US drones never stops, in addition to the other road problems. My only way to avoid the problems of this aviation on the road between the province of Shabwa and the province of Abyan is to close my telephone and depend on Allah. I closed my telephone, and before that I stopped thinking about the possible dangers, to appear normal with those who accompanied me in travelling from Shabwa to Abyan. But my mouth remained open about questions that ended only in

the coastal city of Shaqra. The city which we stopped in it to rest and it’s the city that the organization recently retrieved it after the tribesmen controlled it previously. Before reaching the city of Shaqra, we took a rough sandy road, since the main road wasn’t secure in some areas. On the road, they didn’t ask me much. They talked to me about the dangers of visiting a prohibited group, reminding me what happened to the journalist Abdulelah Shayee, certainly they weren’t aware that I didn’t need more concerns, especially in this hard campaign. The press don’t pass on the truth. Every newspaper is following a certain party or person, and all the parties and persons don’t like Al-Qaeda. Thus all the press is working against Al-Qaeda. “If you pass on facts from here, will you publish it in your newspaper without change?” This was a conclusion and question by one of the companions. I answered him “Yes”. But it looks that it didn’t convince him, that’s why he shook his head and said to me: “Khayer Insha’Allah”. Another companion said: “I wish that you pass on the reality as it is, even it wasn’t in our interest”. I said to him I come to this place only to pass on the reality as it is, or I would have stayed to pass on the reality of Abyan province from Sana’a, as many do. A third one: “We think that you will do so Abu … what is your nickname?” Me: “I’m Abdulrazaq Al-Jamal... only.” Here no one is called with his name, for security reasons. Everyone has his nickname, maybe I was the only one who was called with his name, before one contributed and suggested a nickname for me… and I became “Abu Al-Muhajir” after that. We are still in Shaqra. I’m aware that this city is full with the fighters of Al-Qaeda, since the flying intensity of the American spy drones was unusual, in comparison with the other regions. This is an accurate measure to know the size of the presence of the organization in this region or that. The information of the American is strong in this side, but they don’t benefit much from it. Al-Qaeda fighters take their cautions: - the first role: close the telephone - the second role: move very much. The American aviation doesn’t hit moving targets - the third role: not more than three meet in one location

- the fourth role: read the Azkar The permissible air space I remembered something that relates to the topic … The “Washington Post” quoted from American officials that the administration of the American president Barack Obama increased recently its drone attacks in Yemen. The newspaper also quoted from the American officials their confirmation that what is happening in Yemen is on the contrary to what is happening in Pakistan, since every raid in Yemen or Somalia requires the approval of the White House and the targets are taken from a ratified list for the big leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The news of the Washington Post doesn’t need to be confirmed by the American officials, you only need to visit the province of Abyan. Also the conformations of the American officials that the targets of the American aviation in Yemen are from a ratified list for the big leaders of the organization, is uncertain, rather what is certain is otherwise. After my departure from the city of Shaqra the American drones killed five new Al-Qaeda fighters in the city of Shaqra and the directorate of Al-Mahfid in the province of Abyan, and this was repeated in other areas/. By the way … the commander of the 25th mechanic brigade in an interview with the Emirati newspaper “Al-Khaleej” any participation of the American aviation in the battles of Abyan. The city of mosquitoes I’m now in Shaqra, my mind and heart is in the city of Zinjibar. There is an overpowering curiosity to know the situation inside the city, that’s why I was hastening them to move … How eager am I waiting for that appointment.. I wanted it to come near but the sounds of the explosions that I heard from the battle front of “Dofas” nearly convinced me to stay in the Shaqra directorate, as it convinced the Al-Jazeera correspondent Ahmed Al-Shalafi. The arrivals from Zinjibar speak to us about the development on the fighting front when we meet them on the road or when they stop at the city of Shaqra. The human means are the only dependable mean to pass on news in the province of Abyan between the fighters of the organization. Certainly their news won’t find their way to the local and foreign media, which pass on about Abyan what doesn’t happen in Abyan, despite it also speak about casualties of these organization. What’s the value of this news now, for me as a journalist in an isolated area like this, I don’t have the capability to contact any media, because the contact is cut.

This news won’t be important if I pass it later. Will I leave Abyan with only the latest developments in it? .. Thus I was wondering. Although the last what happened in it was very big, in the size of the lie about controlling of the city of Zinjibar after breaking the siege of the 25th mechanic brigade. All that is not important, what concerns me more than anything else is the matter of moving towards the troubled the city of Zinjibar and directorate of Jaar and the regions near it. I almost forget … I drank huge amount of cold water and juices on the road and during our stopping in the city of Shaqra, because of the high temperature that I wasn’t used to. Everything delicious was in the car from juices and chocolate, except the products that they boycott, like Pepsi.. They are very generous. This is when their financial matters are ok, but they are forced to sell some of their arms during the harsh conditions, to cover some of the requirements of the fighters. The fighters are ready to adapt to any situation. They don’t fear need, and aren’t happy to be in a good condition, it’s just a matter of time. What’s happening on the ground is what makes them fear or happy. I saw real fighters engaged in real battles. The coastal city of Shaqra, is hot and has a lot of mosquitoes. What’s bad about this city is this harmful insect is present even during the day, not to mention the night. That’s why I was afraid that stay our night in it, but the arousal of the driver, shaking the dust from his shirt dispelled these fears. The road to Zinjibar is very secure, because of the spread of the militants of ALQaeda. The big human power of the Al-Qaeda in these regions make the global estimates about their numbers, just estimates and nothing more. The global estimates say that the fighters of the organization in Yemen might reach 300 fighters. But this number becomes a “joke” when you see with your own eyes their numbers just in the province of Abyan. I think that the United States is aware of that, and also its drones. But are the recent statements of general David Petraeus related to this? Petraeus and Ba’Fadel At the time when the United States and the NATO receives severe blows from AlQaeda in Afghanistan, general David Petraeus comes out days before saying that AlQaeda in Yemen is the most dangerous than any other country. Petraeus wasn’t the first to say so, they were preceded by many officials, rather a rating for the CIA said so more than one year from now. The statement of Petraeus reflects the size of the Western concern from the growing of Al-Qaeda in a region where the increase growing of the organization can be a great danger for its interests in the Arabian Peninsula, especially in this stage when Yemen is witnessing an unprecedented security breakdown on the background of

the youth popular revolution that’s demanding to overthrow the regime of president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Which is also an attempt to benefit from the entering of the Yemeni opposition on the line of welcoming the direct American military interference, to get more powers in the field of the war on terrorism, after the opposition was accusing the Saleh regime of neglecting the national sovereignty by allowing the American warplanes to bomb presumed Al-Qaeda targets in some of the Yemeni provinces. To pass it’s welcoming of the direct American military interference on a nation that’s very sensitive to any foreign interference in its matters. The Yemeni opposition is promoting the idea of the relation of Al-Qaeda in Yemen with the president Saleh regime, so that American interference comes in the framework of the revolution against the regime that the people are trying to topple, and it’s an idea Qaedat Al-Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula denies altogether. Also the opposition have assured the United States that it will be a true ally in the war on the so called “terrorism”, after toppling the current regime, which appears that the opposition is changing the role that the Saleh regime is playing with the AlQaeda file. Thus, the American talk about the danger of the organization in Yemen not because the organization is a danger in itself, but it has to exploit the competing of the parties of the struggle (the regime and opposition) in presenting their services in this field, in the best way, since the most thing that bothered it previously was the popular reaction that is caused by the powers that oppose the regime, but this force became more welcoming of the American interference and you can ask the leader in the opposition, Abdurrahman Ba’Fadel who said that they were ready to give America and France what they want from powers and time to strike Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Entering Zinjibar by night From the city of Shaqra, our car was accompanied with another car carrying some fighters, which is a security measure that I don’t know its reason, but don’t think that’s its related to what is going to come.. we had to walk at least for an hour, and even lesser without lights. This was before reaching the city of Zinjibar by almost ten kilometers. That was an exposed region for the besieged brigade, and it could shot any moving light. We were guided with what we could see from the color of the accompanying car and when it becomes far our driver uses the “radio” to inform them that we no longer see them and that they have to decrease their speed. That was very wearisome,

that’s why the driver of the accompanying car ventured and ignited the lights, so that we could be guided. That was a big adventure for me, but I knew later that they aren’t bothered with the brigade targeting their car and don’t exaggerate in taking the security precautions this way. They did this to secure my life. I had to reach Zinjibar safely, they breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived at Zinjibar and began to congratulate me. I don’t know what’s the importance to reach safely to the most troubled city?! We didn’t stay much in the city of Zinjibar, there are no one there except the fighters who are distributed in most of its entrances. That’s why we quickly moved towards the near directorate of Jaar, which is considered the second area of supplies for the fighters in the Dofas front after the city of Zinjibar. The directorate of Jaar Life here is normal, despite some of the families began migrate because of the bombardment that preceded our arrival today. The bombardment targeted Al-Razi public hospital and a mosque in the city, and killed some of the citizens… I don’t know much about the details of the life in this directorate, since only an hour has passed for my presence there. The electricity is cut off, I’m tired from that difficult journey. I have to sleep now, and see what will be in the morning. The information officer in the directorate of Jaar: “We know that you are very tired and you need a lot of rest. Just moments and the brothers will finish preparing the place where you will sleep in, it has to be secure. Me: “I can sleep anywhere, you don’t need to prepare it, just take me to the place of sleeping. I was only afraid of the delay, I was in disparate need for a comfortable place to make me forget the hardship of the journey. The information officer told me that the time of preparing won’t be more than half an hour, and it was as he said. A car came carrying one of the media professionals and took us outside Jaar. Of course we didn’t go far, we were at a distance of 2 kilometers from the directorate, under one of the trees. That was my place of sleeping that they were preparing. It looks like they were only searching for it. A bed on the earth, a light cover, oil to protect you from mosquitoes, instructions to protect you from the American aviation and instructions that protect you from the Saudi and Yemeni aviation that return to the directorate of Jaar in the morning: “When you hear the sound of the American drones you have to close your telephone and move a lot, since this aviation cannot bomb moving targets. When the Yemeni aviation comes you have to stay still, totally on the controversy of the first situation,

because the Yemeni aviation always misses its targets, and you might be its wrong target if you move… This is a water flask, if you need it at night, for drinking or other matters, … good night. I woke up at night “for the other matters” because I drank a lot of water and drinks on the way, but I didn’t know where to go. So ventured and moved away for enough distance. When I returned it became clear to me that the night had ended and I have to do Wudoo for the Fajr prayers. We all prayed then returned to sleep. There is a car assigned to distribute food among the fighters. They call it “AlEysah” car, it waked us up for breakfast. I was concerned about the food of a displaced group that it fighters are used to any life, but I was surprised when the driver of the “Al-Eysah” car gave us a sack of cream, honey, bread, water and some juices. I thought in the beginning that was because I was their guest, but I was surprised with other sacks in the car that will be distributed among the fighters. Only 15 minutes passed for our return to the directorate of Jaar and the shelling began. The bombardment targeted three locations after a few moments of my presence there with some fighters , as well as other locations in the directorate. They told me that there are spies keeps chips for the warplanes or indentifies the locations of the fighters, and they are searching for them. The relationship of Al-Qaeda fighters with the citizens of this directorate, is similar to that in the regions that the fighters’ control, it’s very close. The aerial bombardment is the most feared thing by the citizens of the directorate of Jaar. Which makes the organization feel discomfiture. Resentment from the media Just after one day I got used to the life in the directorate of Jaar and the city of Zinjibar, and also I got used to adhere to the security instructions. The Saudi aviation flies so I hide under a tree, because it block the vision. The American aviation flies so I move a lot, because it doesn’t bomb moving targets. The Yemeni aviation flies so I stay in my place, because it always misses its target. But when the mosquitoes fly I used an anti-oil, despite this anti-oil increases the feeling of the heat, because it closes the pores of the body. This is an incomplete security measure, especially for a person coming from a cold province like me. “Don’t ask about anything Abu Al-Muhajir. You can see everything with your own eyes. Say to us what you want. Where do you want to go, and we will get you there. You have the complete freedom to know everything here, so that your passing of the news is based on what you see, not what we say to you. Most of the media passes on news about us based on what the regime media says, despite it is known of

manipulating the facts, but even to mentioning matters that have nothing to do with reality…”. This is what the information officer said to me. Ok.. I want to go to the Al-Wihda stadium. The information in Sana’a about Abyan says that’s it’s in the hands of government forces… The stadium wasn’t as I saw it in Khaleeji 20, when I entered it for another mission, with completely different people. Destruction has reached most of it, like it was intended, no other location was bombarded this way. For mentioning the stadium, the fighters of the organization told me that the news that the organization executed several soldiers in the Al-Wihda stadium, are baseless, and they are lies that are passed on by the media of the regime and the opposition to distort the mujahidin. They have provided the soldiers with the expenses of the road and released them, after they vowed not to work again with the regime again, according to them. A security measure requires that we don’t return from the stadium to the city of Zinjibar. We will have to return to Jaar through another way, which is the same exposed road for the 25th exposed. Before we reach to the first point on the exposed road one of the fighters came out from under a tree and said to us: “The bridge will shot at your car, but don’t care, he does this with every car passes from here. Increase your speed and keep your dependence on Allah. The distance between us and the brigade is lesser than one kilometer”. O’ Allah, safety here depends on luck, and my luck is always bad.. But if death is inevitable … it’s shameful to die a coward… I pretended that I didn’t care also, but this pretending didn’t continue for long. It was dispersed by the sounds of the R.B.Ks and bullets that was passing over my head, while we were Speeding up maniacally. The driver said to reassure me: “Don’t be concerned when you hear the sound of the bullets. The bullet that will kill you, you won’t hear it, as the proverb says. The proverbs here are all about bullets. I’m more concerned about the bullets that will kill me, because the killing bullet might ne among it, in short... I don’t want to die here, with bullets that I hear or don’t. I couldn’t go to the battle fronts in Dofas, although I asked for that. That was a region that will threaten my life, and maintaining the my life is a very important matter, so that Al-Qaeda won’t be accused if anything happened to me. In any case, going to that region wasn’t important, it was a combat zone and its news reach me right away exactly as it reaches to the fighters.

Hand grenades and other things “Do you want to know what we feel? Wear this quiver and carry this weapon. Now do you feel anything after wearing the quiver and carrying the weapon?” .. “Yes, I feel that I became heavier. (laughter) This was the dialogue between me and the information officer under a tree during an air raid, they said it was a Saudi. He continues to directing his questions to me: “You as a Yemeni, certainly have a experience in using weapons, right?” I answer: “Yes, I can use light weapons, from the Kalashnikov to the R.B.K, naturally I don’t have any knowledge about bombs. So my companion contributes and teaches me: Concentrate… This big part of it is the dead part, which contains shrapnel inside it, it can fall from a high place without exploding, as you see now. This small piece that’s in the size of the finger, is called the detonator. It’s very sensitive, if it was exposed to twice this blow it will explode, and he hits it slightly. My god... What if he miscalculated, what if his information wasn’t imprecise, and what if any mistake happens now? Many questions that provoked fear in me, but that didn’t prevent me from holding the grenades and ask my companion to document it in pictures. Thus my days passed in the province of Abyan, under the continuous air bombardment, amidst adventures of this kind... and many details could be written about it.

Abdulrazaq Al-Jamal AL-Wasat newspaper

15 days  

15 days in the hospitality of Qaedat Al-Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula

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