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Jan 14th, 2010

Clerics in Yemen Warn of Jihad if U.S. Sends Troops

Mideast Yemen Al Qaida
Yemen’s most influential Islamic cleric, Sheik Abdel-Majid al-Zindani, considered an al-Qaida-linked terrorist by the United States, talks during a press conference in the capital San’a, Yemen, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010. A group of prominent Muslim clerics is warning it will call for jihad, or holy war, if the U.S. sends troops to fight al-Qaida in Yemen. (Photo credit: The Associated Press)

By Ahmed Al-Haj

Jan. 14, 2010

SAN’A, Yemen — A group of prominent Muslim clerics warned Thursday they will call for jihad, or holy war, if the U.S. sends troops to fight al-Qaida in Yemen.

The group of 15 clergymen includes the highly influential Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, whom the U.S. has branded a spiritual mentor of Osama bin-Laden but who is also courted by the Yemeni government for his important backing.

The clerics’ warning goes straight to the Yemeni government’s dilemma in cooperating with Washington against an al-Qaida offshoot in the country. In doing so, Yemen’s weak regime must avoid upsetting al-Zindani and other radical Islamic figures whose support it needs to stay in power.

“If any foreign country insists on aggression and the invasion of the country or interference, in a military or security way, Muslim sons are duty bound to carry out jihad and fight the aggressors,” the clerics said in a statement.

President Barack Obama has said he does not plan to send American combat troops to Yemen, though Washington is increasing counterterrorism aid and training to Yemeni forces to battle al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Concern about the growing capabilities of Yemen’s al-Qaida offshoot increased after the failed attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner shortly before it landed in Detroit on Dec. 25. U.S. investigators say the Nigerian suspect in the failed attack told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. …

Washington says al-Qaida’s offshoot in the impoverished country on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula has become a global threat after it allegedly plotted the Dec. 25 bomb attempt.

Yemen’s government has little control over large swaths of the mountainous nation. Powerful, well-armed tribes dominate extensive areas and bitterly resent intrusion by security forces. Young Yemenis who join al-Qaida — or are simply swayed by Islamic extremist ideology — often get support from their fellow tribesmen.


Possible new al-Qaida threat? (MSNBC, Jan. 14, 2010) – U.S. intelligence points to a new possible threat from Yemen-based al-Qaida against the United States. NBC’s Pete Williams reports. (01:36)


Related reports on this site

War on Terror Covert Surge (Jan. 5, 2011)

Yemen Air-Freight Package Bombs (Nov. 6, 2010)

Yemen-Somalia Terror Nexus (Jan. 12, 2010)

Uncertain Ally Against al-Qaida (Jan. 9, 2010)

Battle Lines Are Drawn in Yemen (Jan. 2, 2010)

Obama Opens Third War Front (Dec. 28, 2009)

Yemen Link in Airline Terror Plot (Dec. 26, 2009)

Christmas Terrorism Alert (Dec. 25, 2009)

Obama Fires Missiles into Yemen (Dec. 19, 2009)



Taliban Causes Afghan Civilian Deaths to Soar

Image: Dead child
A school boy killed by an explosion is seen surrounded by relatives, as some chant anti-U.S. and Afghan government slogans in Rodad, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Rahmat Gul / AP)

Jan. 13, 2010

KABUL — Taliban suicide bombings and other attacks caused Afghan civilian deaths to soar last year to the highest annual level of the war, a U.N. report found Wednesday, while deaths attributed to allied troops dropped nearly 30 percent. Many Afghans now blame the violence on the Taliban rather than foreign forces.

A decline in NATO killings of civilians has become a key U.S. goal for winning over the Afghan people. Public outrage over rising death tolls prompted the top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal last year to tighten the rules on the use of airstrikes and other weaponry if civilians are at risk.

The United Nations said 2,412 civilians were killed in 2009 — a 14 percent increase over the 2,118 who died in 2008. Nearly 70 percent of civilian deaths last year, or 1,630, were caused by the insurgents, the report found.

NATO and allied Afghan forces were responsible for 25 percent of the deaths, or 596, the U.N. said, down from 39 percent, or 828, in 2008.

The remainder could not be attributed to either side: civilians caught in the crossfire or killed by unexploded ordnance, according to the report.

More than half the civilian deaths were a result of suicide attacks and other bombings as well as assassinations and executions — despite an order last year by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar to avoid endangering noncombatants. The U.N. said Taliban attacks were mainly aimed at government or international forces but civilians can stumble into ambushes or be too close to a suicide bombing.

Afghans seen as supporting the government or the international community also were increasingly targeted.

A survey commissioned by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV found that 42 percent of 1,534 Afghan respondents now blame the violence on the Taliban, up from 27 percent a year ago, while 17 percent blame the U.S., NATO or the Afghan security force, down from 36 percent. The poll, conducted last month, has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A NATO spokesman, Col. Wayne Shanks, credited the military’s new restraint for the decline in the number of deaths blamed on pro-government forces. …

President Hamid Karzai has frequently criticized use of airpower in populated areas, and a presidential spokesman said the best way to avoid collateral damage was to let Afghan forces take the lead in operations. …


Related reports

Wreckage of a police vehicle hit by a remote controlled bomb in Ghazni province, eastern Afghanistan, on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. Six Afghan policemen were injured when a remove-controlled bomb exploded near an international aid office. (Photo credit: Rahmatullah Naikzad / AP)

Roadside bomb kills 5 Afghan family members (AP, Jan. 15, 2010) — A roadside bomb struck a family traveling home after visiting a shrine Friday in southern Afghanistan, killing five people, including four children. … Police believe the family’s vehicle wasn’t targeted but hit a land mine meant for police or other officials who are frequently attacked by insurgents. …

Bomber hits busy Afghan market, killing 20 (AP, Jan. 14, 2010) — A suicide bomber apparently planning to attack a meeting of NATO and tribal officials blew himself up in a busy market district Thursday in central Afghanistan, killing at least 20 people, officials said, making it the deadliest attack against civilians in more than three months. …

Taliban leader escapes U.S. missile attack (AP, Jan. 14, 2010) – The United States has unleashed an unprecedented number of missile attacks by unmanned drones in northwest Pakistan over the last two weeks, including one Thursday that officials said killed 12 alleged militants in what was once a religious school. The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, was apparently the target, but he escaped unhurt, Pakistani officials and militants said. …

Update: Pakistani Taliban leader: I’m not dead (Reuters, Jan. 16, 2010) – Pakistani Taliban militants have issued an audio tape which they said was of their leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, and proved he had not been killed in a U.S. strike two days ago. Pakistani security officials said earlier that a U.S. drone had targeted Mehsud in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border but it was not known if he was among about 12 militants killed. The Taliban said Mehsud had escaped the missile strike but one militant official said he had been wounded. …

Update: Head of Pakistani Taliban reportedly killed (AP, Jan. 31, 2010) – The Pakistani army said it was investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January. The army’s announcement came shortly after Pakistani state television reported that Mehsud died in Orakzai, an area in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region where he was reportedly being treated for his injuries. … More (scroll down)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — January 14, 2009

Iranian protestors burn posters of Barack Obama (Photo: STR / Reuters)
Iranian demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Death to Obama,” burned photographs of Barack Obama in Tehran a week before his inauguration as president as they protested against America’s inaction over Israel’s Gaza offensive. (Photo credit: Stringer / Reuters)

Iran Covert Ops Continue in Iraq

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Iranian demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Death to Obama,” burned photographs of Barack Obama in Tehran a week before his inauguration as president as they protested against America’s inaction over Gaza.

9 Responses to “Yemeni Clerics Threaten Jihad”
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