Al Qaeda in Yemen – Part II: Poverty, frustration and exploitation

One audience member asked how the southern Yemeni-based Ansar al-Sharia (the Islamic insurgents Abdul-Ahad visits in the documentary) and AQAP is connected to the global al Qaeda. Abdul-Ahad explained:

“I call it al Qaeda 2.1. I think that al Qaeda in Pakistan or Afghanistan is too weak to co-ordinate or control Yemen. The same ideology, the same principles, but local leadership.”

He later added, prompted by another similar question:

“[Al Qaeda] took this franchise and decided to call it Ansar al-Sharia because they had a bad name . . . for Muslims around the world. Most of the people killed have been Muslims by al Qaeda. They created this Ansar al-Sharia as a marketing ploy and they went down and took the cities, taking advantage of that unique point.”

The Yemeni Ambassador spoke up and asked Abdul-Ahad and Doran how they had gained visas for that area – he didn’t think they should have been allowed into the south for their own security.

Doran, who earlier on had told the audience of being tailed by the government 24/7, jokingly asked the Ambassador: “Was that for my own protection?” To which the ambassador replied: “For your safety!”

The audience settled down after the excitement, and one member asked Abdul-Ahad how much longer he thought the struggle against al Qaeda would go on for.

“As long as you have poverty, frustration, exploitation, no social justice, no government services, you will have so much anger and hatred. That anger and hatred . . . will create an enemy where al Qaeda can exist and point at.

“I think instead of sending drones to bomb Yemen, start working out of Aden. Fix the healthcare. It’s the same old story.”

Abdul-Ahad and Doran then discussed their observations of southern Yemen, adding to the audience’s picture gained from the documentary:

“[Al Qaeda] brought their engineer and connected a small village to the main grid that was going to Ja’ar because for a long time they had to pay a bribe to be connected. They were working on this lives and minds programme with the people.”

Finishing on a sombre note, Doran said:

“I think since al Qaeda has stopped running part of the country, Western interest has died. I would really like to think that more journalists will be allowed into the county to report the stories.”

You can find out more about the film by visiting their website.