Daily Israel Report

Al Qaeda’s Rise in Yemen Prompts Jewish Immigration

The emigration of Yemen’s remaining Jews comes in wake of a rise in Al Qaeda activities in the country, and its targeting of Jews.
By Avraham Zuroff
First Publish: 2/22/2009, 5:29 PM

Sasson Tiram/Jewish Agency

The emigration of Yemen’s remaining Jews comes in wake of increased anti-Semitism, a rise in Al-Qaeda activities in the country, and the terrorist organization’s targeting of Jews.

Ten new immigrants arrived in Israel on Thursday afternoon from the Yemenite community of Raida, where Jews have recently been harrassed by Muslims. The group included Said Ben-Yisrael, one of the heads of the Raida Jewish community. Several weeks ago, Muslim extremists threw a grenade into the Ben-Yisrael family's courtyard. After receiving threats against his life, Said went to live in the capital city of Sana'a, taking his family with him. From there he proceeded to the Jewish State.

Yemen, which does not share diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, nevertheless permits the immigration of its Jews to any location, including Israel.

In an opinion piece in the London-based Arabic daily, Ash-Sharq il-Awsat, columnist Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed warns that Al-Qaeda “is transferring its men and furnishings to the mountains of Yemen.” Al-Rashed adds, “Yemen will be turned into a free-for-all, not only by the terrorists, but by all the countries that want to hound Al-Qaeda wherever it settles.”
 
Yemen’s criminal prosecution finished questioning 17 people charged with terrorism and affiliation to Al-Qaeda, and they are set to appear in criminal court soon, Yemen Online reported Saturday.

A judicial source stated that the defendants include "11 Yemenis, 5 Syrians and 1 Saudi national who is originally from Yemen."

The prosecution immediately follows Yemen’s arrest and extradition of a Saudi man who rejoined Al-Qaeda after his release from the U.S. military's detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The terrorist, Mohammad al-Awri, was arrested last Tuesday, and extradited to Saudi Arabia.

In a new audio recording released on Jihadi websites Thursday, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser Abdel Karim al-Wahishi, called on Yemenis to rise up against the government. The message also called on Arabs in Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries to help their brothers in Yemen.

Al-Wahishi is Yemen's most wanted fugitive, the Associated Press states. Leading Al-Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Al-Wahishi was among 23 terrorists who escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2006.

“Yemen is an important partner in the global war on terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas,” the U.S. State Department states. However, the country’s weak central government and an easily penetratable border have made Yemen fertile ground for terrorism.

This past September 17th, armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a. Several Yemeni security personnel and one Embassy security guard were killed, as were a few individuals waiting to gain entry to the Embassy. Al Qaeda is also believed to be behind the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, stationed at Yemen’s Gulf of Aden, which claimed the lives of 17 U.S. soldiers and injured 39.

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh told government officials in a February 3 address that terrorism is "an epidemic that damages development, security and stability” in Yemen’s society. He called upon Yemen’s citizens to combat terror.