'Horrific' al-Qaeda abuses in Yemen

2012-12-04 14:00
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi is pictured in the town of Jaar, in the southern Abyan province earlier this year. (File, AFP)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi is pictured in the town of Jaar, in the southern Abyan province earlier this year. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Sanaa - Al-Qaeda committed "horrific" rights abuses during its 16 months in power in southern Yemen, Amnesty International charged in a report released on Tuesday, documenting the beheading of an alleged sorcerer, crucifixion of a man accused spying and amputation of a man's hand for stealing.

The rights abuses between February 2011 and June 2012, when al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) affiliate Ansar al-Shariah took over parts of southern Yemen, resulted in "a human rights catastrophe", according to the London-based rights group.

The report also accuses Yemen's government of abuses.

"We believe that horrific human rights abuses took place and violations of international humanitarian law by both sides," according to author of the report, Celina Nasser.

Al-Qaeda's takeover of large swaths of territory in southern Yemen was the first time the group has governed entire towns and cities.

The 57-page report, titled "Conflict in Yemen: Abyan's Darkest Hour", documents some of the violations during the conflict between Yemeni government forces and Ansar al-Shariah. It also sheds light on how al-Qaeda militants ran government affairs.

Severed head

Al-Qaeda militants seized Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province on the Arabian Sea coast, while Yemen was mired in the turmoil of a popular uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The militants also took control of several nearby towns. Saleh, once a US ally, stepped down in February under a Gulf-mediated, US-backed deal.

Al-Qaeda set up committees to rule southern Yemen. Their rulings and punishments were documented in videos released by al-Qaeda in Yemen's media arm. Amnesty compiled some in a video released with the report.

The video shows a man in front of a crowd holding the severed head of a woman accused of sorcery. Other scenes show amputation of a man's left hand in a public square in the town of Jaar in southern Yemen. He was accused of stealing electronic wires. Without a trial or prior knowledge of the punishment, he wakes up to find his hand was cut off.

"They gave me an injection, and I slept ... when I woke up, my hand was not there," the man told Amnesty.

Stores forcibly closed

Another scene shows the bloated body of a man who was killed and crucified in a public square.

Stores were forcibly closed during the five daily Muslim prayers. A woman tells Amnesty that an Ansar al-Shariah militant banned men from entering her store.

"I would keep the door open, so he hung a curtain to make sure that no one could see me," she said.

The group also forced women to not only cover their faces, as is tradition in Yemen, but also to cover their eyes.

In May, the group destroyed tombs and shrines that they regarded as idolatrous in three villages in the governorate of Abyan.

Around a quarter-million people were displaced due to the conflict. The World Food Programme says that more than 10 million Yemenis - 44.5% of the population - are food insecure, many of them internally displaced.

Rebuilding

Amnesty researcher, Nasser, said there were few checkpoints between the large southern city of Aden and the town of Jaar, which was the first to fall to al-Qaeda and served as the group's base in the absence of government forces.

"In Jaar, I didn't see any military presence. I think those who are running the show now are the Popular Committees," she said a phone interview with The Associated Press.

The governor of Abyan province said the government has yet to rebuild schools, hospitals, roads, sewage systems or even secure the area. He said food aid is also needed.

"The Interior Ministry has not until now taken any positive steps on the ground," Jamal al-Aqil said.

Amnesty's report also points to the killing of civilians, including children, as a result of air strikes and artillery and mortar attacks by government forces trying to force out al-Qaeda militants from residential areas.

Amnesty said that Yemeni government forces used inappropriate battlefield weapons such as artillery in civilian areas. In other attacks, government forces appeared to fail to take necessary precautions to spare civilians, the report said.

US drone strikes

"We cannot rule out that some of these airstrikes were carried out by US drones," Nasser said. "We call on the United States to also investigate what weapons were used in these airstrikes where civilians were killed."

Washington considers the AQAP to be the network's most dangerous offshoot. The group has been blamed for directing a string of unsuccessful bomb plots on US soil.

In the last few months, a Yemeni military campaign against AQAP in southern Yemen was orchestrated by US military advisers and financially assisted by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The US helped Yemenis from a command centre manned by dozens of US troops in the southern desert outside of the main battle zones. They co-ordinated assaults and airstrikes, and have carried out drone strikes.

"It's not only the Yemeni government. Any state that was supporting it, including the US, should bear responsibility for the killing of civilians," Nasser said.

Since the offensive drove al-Qaeda from the towns, the militants have sought refuge in nearby mountain areas and retaliated with assassinations of security and military officials and suicide bombings.

Nasser warned that the conflict could renew, with both sides "committing the same violations".

- SAPA
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  amnesty international  |  yemen  |  human rights
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

Learn some great skills that will help your riding on the road and on the track.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips on how to set your fitness goals
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of just...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.