News / Middle East

Bin Laden's Legacy Strong in Yemen

American-born Anwar al-Awlaki is one of the most influential terror leaders in Yemen (file photo)
American-born Anwar al-Awlaki is one of the most influential terror leaders in Yemen (file photo)
Elizabeth Arrott

Few places have seen Osama bin Laden's ideology take root as strongly as Yemen, the impoverished Arab nation that is the late al-Qaida leader's ancestral home.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is one of the most active groups inspired by bin Laden. In recent years, it has been implicated in plots to bring down a U.S. airliner, send bombs via cargo planes, attack embassies and kill foreign nationals.  

There are direct links to the main al-Qaida group, which claimed responsibility for the bombing of the American ship, USS Cole, in Yemen in 2000.  

And according to Yemeni writer and political analyst Nasser Arrabyee, the local franchise may have even overtaken its predecessor.    

"They have the same thought, the same goals, the same methods.  And maybe Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is even more dangerous because of the Yemeni-American leader now - Anwar al Awlaki."  

No shortage of fresh blood

The American-born Awlaki is seen as the face of a new generation of terrorists. The articulate English-speaker, considered an operational mastermind by the United States, is an Internet sensation, with his blog, YouTube videos and Facebook page attracting a loyal following worldwide.   

That ease with social media was seen among other Yemeni extremists, who created Facebook pages honoring bin Laden just hours after his death was announced. For a while bin Laden had little to do with the local group, but he remains a powerful symbol.

Some in Yemen consider bin Laden a liberator, who lived and died a hero.  The that the al-Qaida leader is also thought as someone who stood against the unjust.  

Lack of instability compounds problem

Right now, the unjust for al-Qaida supporters is the Yemeni government. And this is where, like many things in Yemen, the situation gets complicated.  

The anti-government demonstrations that have roiled the country for months are for the most part a call for democracy and greater freedom. But they also offer al-Qaida an opening in a fragile state torn by tribal allegiances, a rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south. Political analyst Arrabiyee says extremists are only waiting for the right moment.

"Al-Qaida can only make a big victory when Yemen collapses into chaos and this is what al Qaida is waiting [for] now. Al-Qaida has reduced a lot of its operations in order not to help President Saleh politically. So they are waiting for chaos, for a collapse in Yemen to grow more and more and to recruit more and more."

Western countries face dilemma

That puts Western countries, especially the United States, in a bind, as they try to balance popular demands against the Yemeni government's stated commitment to anti-terrorism.  

Washington has made President Ali Abdullah Saleh a partner in fighting al-Qaida, and supports his government with military and financial aid. Saleh's detractors claim he overstates the terror threat - and his role in fighting it - to keep the backing of his foreign allies. Najeeb Ghanem is a member of the opposition in Yemen's parliament.

"We think that al-Qaida threat might be implemented by the Saleh regime to make some sort of intimidation of others, and using this for abusing of the heads of opposition and a lot of forces in Yemen."

Only “one way out,” some believe

Ghanem believes the best way out is to take the risk of political change.  

"We think that the stabilizing system which is going to be alive after the success of the revolution will be able to deal with this challenge in Yemen.  So we do not think we are going to face that dangerous threat by al-Qaida."

Ghanem is a rare optimist in a country facing threats from so many sides.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid