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

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid