Yemen decries al-Qaeda's execution of dentist

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

A Yemeni doctor in full hazmat suit treats a COVID-19 patient at a quarantine center in the city of Taez on June 21st. A dentist from the province was killed by al-Qaeda gunmen on August 15th. [Ahmad al-Basha/AFP]

A Yemeni doctor in full hazmat suit treats a COVID-19 patient at a quarantine center in the city of Taez on June 21st. A dentist from the province was killed by al-Qaeda gunmen on August 15th. [Ahmad al-Basha/AFP]

Yemeni officials denounced in the strongest terms the execution and crucifixion of a dentist by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula (AQAP) in al-Bayda and vowed to continue to combat terrorism as part of their push to restore the state.

Al-Qaeda gunmen on Saturday (August 15th) shot dead dentist Motthar Mohammed Saif al-Youssoufi, a 40-year-old native of Taez, accusing him of spying for the government and guiding drone strikes that targeted the group.

They then crucified him and dumped his body outside the health centre in al-Bayda's Sawmaa district, where he had been working for 10 years.

In a video posted on social media, al-Qaeda showed the dentist confessing to the charges made against him. But his brother said he had been killed because of family disputes with his wife, reportedly the relative of an al-Qaeda leader.

Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani strongly condemned the "heinous crime" and said al-Youssoufi had been "forced to give confessions under threat".

Al-Youssoufi had provided services to the people of Sawmaa district as a dentist at the health centre, he said.

In an interview carried by local media, al-Eryani noted that Sawmaa district is in an area controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), "who are turning a blind eye to terrorist groups", even as they attack the national army.

“The legitimate government is committed to confronting terrorist and extremist groups of all forms and names as part of its national battle to restore the state and establish security and stability," he said.

The al-Bayda branch of Salafi political party al-Rashad Union also condemned the dentist’s execution, saying it violated sharia and the Yemeni constitution.

'A crime against society'

Yemen's Ministry of Human Rights denounced the crime as an act of terrorism and a violation of international humanitarian law and human rights laws, as well as sharia and the country's laws and constitution.

Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez condemned the crime which “confirms the heinousness of its perpetrators and their terrorist, extremist ideology, against a man who had served the people of the district for years".

“This is a crime against the entire society, and not just against one person,” he said, noting that al-Qaeda elements have been active in Houthi-controlled areas.

“Al-Qaeda’s crime against a dentist who serves the area is the result of absence of rule of law, state institutions and security agencies,” political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

“Al-Qaeda’s crime serves the Houthis, who claim to be combating the terrorist group, while in fact they are turning a blind eye to their activities,” he said.

“The legitimate government has a responsibility to establish its influence and proceed with its war on terror, as it did in Abyan,” Ahmed added.

“It also has a responsibility to respond to the victim’s family, who demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice, which is a demand of the entire Yemeni people,” he said.

Soldiers killed in Houthi attack

Meanwhile, military and medical sources on Monday said 11 members of the Yemeni forces, including a senior officer, had been killed in a Houthi missile attack and clashes to the northeast and east of Sanaa, AFP reported.

Gen. Mohammed Ali-Roqn, commander of the army's 122nd Brigade, was killed in battle in al-Jawf province Sunday along with eight other soldiers, while trying to reclaim positions lost months ago, the sources said.

The Houthis also suffered casualties, the military source added.

The Houthis took control of the al-Jawf provincial capital of al-Hazm earlier this year -- a strategic advance that means they now threaten oil-producing Marib.

In a statement, Yemen's Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar said Ali-Roqn was killed "while conducting military operations" in al-Jawf.

Two Yemeni troops were killed and four others wounded in a Houthi missile attack on a military base in Marib, east of Sanaa, a government official said.

Renewed clashes also broke out in al-Bayda -- which is under nominal government control -- between pro-government forces and the Houthis.

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