http://almashareq.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_am/features/2019/04/16/feature-01

Security |

Yemenis call for war on extremists in al-Bayda

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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Yemeni soldiers gather at the site of a checkpoint where three policemen were killed in an al-Qaeda suicide attack in al-Bayda province in this file photo from March 13th, 2012. [AFP PHOTO/STR]

Yemeni scholars and the relatives of those killed in al-Qaeda and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) attacks have called on Yemeni forces and the Arab coalition to wage a war against the extremists in al-Bayda province.

In a February report, the UN said 367 people had been killed by al-Qaeda and ISIS since the outbreak of the Yemen war in March 2015.

"The army and the coalition must attack al-Qaeda and ISIS camps wherever they are, especially in al-Bayda," said Fatima Mohammed, of Aden province, whose brother was killed in an ISIS attack as he attempted to enlist in the army.

"Halting the airstrikes and ground attacks against them will give [the extremists] an opportunity to regroup and carry out new attacks," she told Al-Mashareq.

Mohammed said she did not want to see a repeat of the suffering her mother went through after she lost her son, killed in one of the twin suicide attacks claimed by ISIS in Aden on May 23rd, 2016, along with more than 40 others.

Her brother had been looking to secure a source of income to support his mother, she said, who was still mourning her son at the time of her own death.

Mother-of-eight Sumaya Ali told Al-Mashareq her husband was killed in a deadly attack on al-Hashosh mosque in Sanaa's al-Jaraf neighbourhood on March 20th, 2015, that was claimed by ISIS.

Ali, using a pseudonym out of concern for her safety, said she and her five sons and three daughters "have been suffering ever since".

"Their father left us no means of support because he was a government employee and his salary was suspended," she said, along with those of all other government employees as a result of the war.

Meanwhile, she added, "living conditions have worsened for most Yemenis because of the continuing war".

Ali called on all those who are "confronting and fighting terrorism to continue to fight al-Qaeda and ISIS to ensure there will be no repeat of the scene of bodies strewn in mosques and in the streets in the wake of terrorist acts".

Investigating terrorism cases

The national commission assigned to investigate human rights abuses in Yemen has been "investigating terrorism cases in al-Bayda, Marib, Abyan and other provinces", said commission spokeswoman Ishraq al-Maqtari.

The fight against terrorism is concerned with "direct physical terrorism, such as attacks on the lives, safety and property of citizens because of their faith, opinion, gender, jobs, dress or region", she told Al-Mashareq.

But it also includes "indirect intellectual terrorism, including incitement and threats", she added.

The international community has put in place several mechanisms to counter and combat terrorism, al-Maqtari said.

These include direct operations targeting the areas where extremist groups have a presence, she said, and indirect action, such as the legal prosecution of such crimes and their perpetrators.

"The objective is to protect human rights and dry up the wellsprings of extremism, which stops others from enjoying their rights," she said.

Fighting extremist ideology

All sectors of society "must fight extremist ideology and the terrorist groups that advocate it", primarily ISIS and al-Qaeda, Yemen's Deputy Minister of Endowments and Guidance Jabri Ibrahim told Al-Mashareq.

This includes preachers and teachers, religious scholars and guides, "all of whom must raise awareness against calls for extremism by these groups", he said.

The Yemeni army also must assume the responsibility of fighting these groups in the areas they control in al-Bayda province, he added.

Pointing to ISIS's aggressive bid to strengthen and consolidate its presence in al-Bayda, Ibrahim said the group had insulted Yemenis by calling them "kuffar".

"This group has no right to accuse Yemenis of being 'kuffar' (unbelievers), because they are people of faith and wisdom," Ibrahim said.

"In this difficult time Yemen is going through, all segments of society must shoulder the responsibility and counter the calls for extremism and hatred issued by these terrorist groups," he said.

"Islam is a religion of centrism and moderation," he added, calling on scholars to assume their role in combating the culture of takfir and the calls for extremism and hatred, in their speeches, lectures and lessons.

This approach will help to educate the community and prevent young people from being influenced by the corrosive ideology of extremists, he said.

Ibrahim stressed the importance of working "to instill the culture of love and peace, so that the misguided do not fall under the influence of these groups and become time bombs that threaten the community".

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