- Yemen is currently an official ally of the United States in the war on terror. We've recently seen the rather bizarre incident where the Spanish, at some risk, were ordered by the U. S. to seize arms coming from North Korea that were supposed to be headed for Iraq. When it turned out they were really headed to Yemen, the U. S. ordered the weapons released to the Yemen government, an action which made the United States look completely ridiculous and angered the Spanish, thus showing that it was thought by American authorities to be absolutely necessary to humor the Yemenis.
- Until quite recently, Yemen consisted of North Yemen and South Yemen, with South Yemen being run by quite radical marxists. Both the Americans and the Islamic fundamentalists assisted the current rulers of Yemen to defeat the southern marxists in 1994. This has left the current rulers beholden to the fundamentalists, and there seems to be an understanding in U. S. diplomacy towards Yemen that these fundamentalists have to be catered to (more cynically, one could take the view that the fundamentalists keep the Yemeni government in line with U. S. and British interests). As we shall see, the relationship of the U. S. government to Yemeni fundamentalists is much more complicated than that.
- The British have a colonial history, as well as a history of conducting covert operations, in Yemen. Both the British and the Americans have had a role in the development of Islamicist covert operations in Yemen:
". . . the southern province of Abyan had emerged as a base for the activities of Yemeni mercenaries of Jaish-e-Mohammed (Mohammed's Army), who had been trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, armed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS - popularly known as the MI-6) of the UK and used under the leadership of Osama in the US's proxy war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and that these mercenaries had formed the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army."Here, we start to see the possible roots of American sensitivities about investigations in Yemen: Yemen was being used as the base for training the mujahideen who were successfully used to fight the Russians in Afghanistan (in fact Zbigniew Brzezinski is proud of the fact that the CIA began to aid the mujahideen before the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and indeed the U. S. actions may have helped to provoke the invasion). This operation ties together the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, the U. S. and Britain, and none less than Osama bin Laden, who first made a name for himself fighting in Afghanistan. The essential deal is that the CIA and the Saudi government would provide money, the ISI would provide the training and would set up camps in Pakistan, and the trained troops would fight the Russians in Afghanistan. This whole enterprise worked so well that it continued even after the Russians were defeated in Afghanistan: in the southern parts of the Soviet Union adjacent to Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Bosnia and Kosovo (besides the Americans, the German intelligence agency BND was also involved in training KLA terrorists, an intriguing connection as the September 11 terrorists were originally based in Germany, acted much more like intelligence agents than pious Muslims, and it has been reported that Atta's friends in Florida seemed to be Germans; it is also interesting that the families of a number of the 9-11 terrorists lost track of their sons when these sons went to fight jihad in Chechnya, presumably as part of the same mujahideen group; the 'Unified Theory of 9-11' might involve a combination of intelligence agents and mujahideen veterans) and Macedonia (generally, for the Balkans, see here - the single most amazing incident remains the fact that the U. S. was providing training and material assistance to KLA Albanians fighting against Macedonia while simultaneously helping to defend against these fighters), in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia (American troops are now in Georgia to pacify the situation sufficiently so that the pipeline from Baku can be built, which is ironic as the Islamicists in the Pankisi Gorge who have caused trouble also come out of this mujahideen group), and in Chechnya (while Putin and Bush are supposed to be close friends, they must have some interesting private conversations about Chechnya). The Egyptian government had blocked the return of the Afghanistan mujahideen veterans as it feared they would continue their jihad against the Egyptian government, so they regrouped in Yemen to continue their training. The man supposedly behind the plot to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993, Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman, was also part of this Anglo-American operation, and was actually brought into the U. S. on a CIA-sponsored visa (whenever you see the term 'blowback', be very suspicious, as it appears to be the official way to claim that the consequences of U. S. intelligence actions were unintended). The constant complaints we now hear from the U. S. about how awful it is that the Saudis have financed terrorism must sound funny to the Saudis, seeing as they have funded terrorism under the auspices of, and at the urging of, the CIA.
- The mujahideen who had formed the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army went on to create some mischief in Yemen, most notably the bombing of a hotel that had recently contained U. S. troops in 1992, and the kidnapping of a number of Britons in late 1998. The kidnappers were caught, but not before some of the hostages were killed. The ringleader of the kidnapping, Abu al-Hassan, a man who was later executed by the Yemenis, immediately after the kidnapping telephoned the imam of the Finsbury Park mosque in London, Abu Hamza. Abu Hamza (website of his organization) has been one of these rabble-rousing British imams, calling for actions by his audience that might easily be thought of as seditious against the British state. Despite that, he has not been arrested, although he had been ordered to stop speaking in his mosque, an order he has blatantly disobeyed (the British have also refused to extradite Abu Hamza to Yemen). The mosque has now been raided in the wake of the recent British ricin scare (which of course may just be the British form of the constant terror alerts in the United States intended to keep up support for the war on terror, including the attack to steal Iraq's oil), and Abu Hamza, although not under arrest, may finally be under some risk of being deported (although I don't know many countries which deport their own citizens unless the citizenship was obtained through fraud).
- I have posted about the odd case of Zainulabidin and his unusual terrorist training company, Sakina Security Services, a company which seemed to be quite active at one time in sending young Muslim men in Britain for training in combat techniques, supposedly to enable them to fight jihad (British authorities now claim to have identified exactly 1,192 Britons who have trained with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network in Afghanistan). Despite this history, Zainulabidin managed to convice a British court in August that he had nothing to do with terrorism. British 'security services' interviewed the head of Sakina, Mohammad Jameel, who had been allowed to continue with his training business despite the fact that the group of young British Muslims who were arrested in Yemen in 1999 on charges of trying to overthrow the Government, presumably referring to the 1998 kidnappers, had been trained by him. Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed heads Al-Muhajiroun, the organization supposedly dedicated to setting up an Islamic state in Britain. Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed has been connected both to Sakina and to bin Laden, and is known for his rabble-rousing statements in favor of radical Islam.
- Zacarias Moussaoui has been complaining that the man who he feels betrayed him in Britain, Atif (or Atef) Ahmed, was a British intelligence agent who should be interrogated about the official knowledge of Moussaoui before he reached the United States. Ahmed was picked up, but then inexplicably released, and has completely disappeared (see the two excellent articles on this mystery man by Jacob Levich). Both Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, attended the Finsbury Park mosque. It appears that this mosque was under considerable covert surveillance: "Britain's powerful spy agencies found the Finsbury Park mosque a valuable surveillance post for watching al Qaeda's web of contacts."
- Yemen was recently constructed, with American amd Islamic fundamentalist help, and the fundamentalists have earned a certain amount of favors from the current Yemeni government
- the British and Americans sponsored training camps in, amongst other places, Yemen, to train fighters who were successfully used in Afghanistan to entice the Soviets into Afghanistan and fight the Soviets there and across the border in neighboring Soviet states
- Osama bin Laden, whose father was originally from the south Yemeni province of Hadramawt, also sponsored these fighters, and had risen to prominence fighting the Russians in Afghanistan
- the same fighters reformed themselves into a group called the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, a group which had some connection, through its leader, to radical British imam Abu Hamza, and some connection, through Sakina Security Services, to radical British imam Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed
- the same fighters have been used to fight Soviet, and then Russian, interests in the southern parts of the Soviet Union, against Russian ally Serbia in Bosnia and Kosovo, in Macedonia, Georgia, and in Chechnya, and in many cases these fighters have received financial and technical support from the CIA up to this very moment
- young Muslim men in mosques in Britain with radical imams have been recruited into fundamentalist fighting forces used in various parts of the world, and the failure of British authorities to rein in the crazy imams probably relates, not to freedom of speech concerns, but to the fact that they wanted to continue to manipulate and exploit these Muslim youth for Anglo-American geopolitcal purposes, particularly against the Russians (the British have a history of convenient 'laxness' in monitoring Islamicist terrorists working out of London, a 'laxness' which seems to hide the use by British intelligence of these groups)
- at the same time that the British were playing the game of manipulating young British Muslims, the British intelligence agencies had also extensive intelligence operations in the mosques.
Yemen, and the odd connections of the Finsbury Park mosque to terrorism, lead us to four conclusions:
- Quite understandably, British intelligence had infiltrated the Finsbury Park mosque, and was using agents, probably including Atif Ahmed, to spy on its members.
- British intelligence agencies were assisting the Americans in Cold War battles against the Soviet Union, using Islamic fundamentalists as proxy fighters, and doing nothing to discourage the recruitment and training of such fighters (including doing nothing to stop radical Islamicists from stirring up Muslim youth to join the fight against the perceived enemies of Islam).
- After the Cold War, these operations continued against the Russians, but, in the absence of the Soviet Union as the common enemy, some of the terrorist operations may have turned back against the British and Americans (or at least we're spposed to believe that they did).
- Any type of deep investigation of the USS Cole terrorist attack might well have led back to people trained by or on behalf of the CIA in the training camps set up by the CIA and MI-6 in Yemen, and therefore investigation of the USS Cole attack had to be suppressed. If John O'Neill had been allowed to do his job, he might have been able to undermine the terrorist/intelligence networks that were responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks.