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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Yemen

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Yemen, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e52480b17.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: In 2010, resource limitations and unstable security conditions in several parts of the country impeded the Yemeni government's ability to eliminate potential safe havens in Yemen. In addition, counterterrorism efforts were impeded by a lack of legislation. Yemen's vulnerability along it long and weakly protected borders has allowed al-Qa'ida associates to find safe haven in Yemen. Nonetheless, the Government of Yemen continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and deployed its security forces against terrorist threats. The Yemeni government security forces killed or captured numerous suspected al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants, and received assistance in the form of equipment and training from the United States. The Yemeni government's response to the terrorist threat included large-scale kinetic operations against suspected AQAP members in the south. In turn, AQAP attacks against foreign interests, Yemeni government targets, and the Shia Houthi movement in the north increased dramatically in 2010.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: AQAP carried out attacks throughout Yemen, using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), ambushes, and car bombs against government, civilian, and foreign targets, particularly in the South but also within the capital city of Sana'a. Attacks included:

  • On April 26, the British Ambassador's vehicle was attacked by a suicide bomber as it approached the British Embassy in Sana'a. The Ambassador escaped unharmed; however, three bystanders were wounded and the bomber died in the attack.

  • On June 19, six to eight suspected AQAP gunmen disguised as women staged a daylight attack on a security service headquarters in Aden, killed 12 civilians.

  • On July 14, 20 suspected AQAP gunmen staged a coordinated attack on the intelligence and police headquarters in Zinjibar, killing three people.

  • On October 6, a vehicle carrying the British Deputy Chief of Mission was attacked with an anti-tank rocket as it was approaching the British Embassy in Sana'a. One Embassy employee and two bystanders were injured.

  • On October 29, a plot to send two parcels containing IEDs on two separate flights bound for the United States was discovered. AQAP claimed responsibility.

  • On December 15, a man of unknown affiliation detonated a grenade in the bed of an armored pickup truck with four U.S. Embassy personnel aboard outside of a popular restaurant in the Hadda neighborhood of Sana'a. No one was injured. A crowd of Yemenis attacked the man and held him until Yemeni government authorities arrived.

  • AQAP also claimed two suicide attacks against Shia Houthis in the north on November 24 and 26 that resulted in 28 dead and many more wounded. Following these attacks, AQAP reportedly ordered the establishment of Salafi brigades to halt the spread of Shiism in Sa'ada governorate.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Counterterrorism legislation sent to a Parliamentary committee for review in 2008 was not enacted by the end of 2010. For this reason, the Yemeni government must apply other means, including fraudulent document or "membership in an armed gang" laws against foreign fighters intending to go to Afghanistan or elsewhere. Those involved in acts resulting in injury, death, or property destruction may be prosecuted under existing laws. However, terrorism was not defined as a crime per se. As of the end of the year, legal, political, and logistical hurdles hindered an effective detention and rehabilitation program for Guantanamo returnees. The government lacked a legal framework to hold Guantanamo detainees for more than a short period of time. Yemen participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives.

Countering Terrorism Finance: On December 29, 2009, Yemen's Parliament passed long-stalled counterterrorist finance and anti-money laundering legislation, which was signed into law on January 17, 2010, as Law No. 1 of 2010. It provided the government with powers to investigate and prosecute terrorist financial networks operating inside the country. The Financial Action Task Force's International Cooperation Review Group, determined that the law was an improvement but did not yet meet international standards and was not yet effectively implemented. Yemen is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). There was no information on whether Yemeni authorities have frozen, seized, or demanded forfeiture of other assets related to terrorist financing.

Regional and International Cooperation: The Friends of Yemen process began in 2010 as a forum for two dozen countries, including Yemen, to coordinate a strategic plan of assistance and reform for Yemen. Members have used the forum to advance initiatives such as those related to border security and detainee rehabilitation. Yemen acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Official and quasi-official media featured messages from President Saleh and other high-level officials and opinion leaders denigrating violent extremism and AQAP. However, Yemeni government messaging did not distinguish between terrorist groups and groups with political opposition to the Yemeni government, and often identified the Southern Movement and the Houthi organizations as "violent extremist" organizations.

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