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Jihad Materials Thrive in Yemeni Markets

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Message Mohamed Al-Azaki

Jihad Materials Thrive in Yemeni Markets


By Mohamed Al-Azaki

Friday, March 30, 2007

SANAA, YEMEN - The war on terrorism is fought in this mountainous Arab country, Yemen, by a new generation of Sunnis who circulating gruesome videos of murdering and mutilating 'infidels' as part of a recruiting drive for Osama bin Laden's worldwide terror network.

At a roadside stand, the video salesman was selling jihadi movies to the converted as radical songs, including: "We will make jihad against the pigs" — meaning Jews -- blared out from speakers from his bookshop.

The long-beard buyers thronging his stall on the sidelines of a sunset prayer's sermon in the Yemeni capital Sana'a belonged to a crowd organized by the radical Sunni wing of the Yemen Reform Group, also known as Islah, a powerful opposition Islamic party.

"Here is the latest movie of the beheadings," the salesman told his customers, as they peered into titles including "Slaughter of American Soldiers in Iraq", "Al Qaeda Victories in Fallujah in Iraq" and "killing of Traitors in Afghanistan".

In Yemen, compelled to join the U.S.-led global war on terrorism after al Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States, anger has risen over what many Muslim clerics see as an attempt by the America and West to repress Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

But that is only part of the story. Yemen is also pushed into a long battle with its own demons, particularly al Qaeda-related attacks and sectarian violence that have killed thousands.

Six days ago, four people were injured in a riot broke out by Sunni Muslims in the Yemeni port city of Belhaf, allegedly after a French engineer of French company Total, desecrated a copy of the Koran by throwing it on the floor.

At the other north end of the country, in the restive Saada tribal area bordering Saudi Arabia where fierce battle is still going on between government forces and Shiite rebels, a French and a British student, both Muslims, were killed and several others wounded in an attack last week by Shiite rebels on a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim religious school.

The movie seller didn't have the most recent action from the war in Iraq, but he had something else just as gruesome.

"This one is about activities of Mujahideen bombers in Iraq. And this is about biography of martyrs in Afghanistan," the seller said.

Dated on Sept. 15, 2006, sympathizers to al Qaeda attacked the American and Canadian-owned oil facilities in the eastern provinces of Marib and Hadarmout after they watched a movie in which Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa ordering to strike western-owned oil companies in the Arab peninsula.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Mr. Osama bin Laden, also provided two-thirds of recruits for Osama's Afghan camps, and was notorious for kidnappings of foreigners and the October 2000 bombing of the American warship USS Cole in Aden that killed 17 sailors, and the October 2002 bombing of the French supertanker, Limberg.

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Mohamed Al-Azaki, a Yemeni journalist and researcher on Islamic militants at the Saba Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Sana'a, Yemen.
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