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The West is weighing in to Yemen's ongoing unrest - with deadly force. Officials in the troubled country say U.S. drone strikes have killed over a hundred people, including civilians, in the past two weeks. Now, the UK's preparing attack helicopters and commando squads for possible action in Yemen.
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Yemen says senior al-Qaida member killed APBy AHMED AL-HAJ - Associated Press | AP – 1 hr 48 mins ago
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A senior leader of Yemen's al-Qaida branch has been killed in fighting in the nearly lawless south of the country, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
A ministry statement said Ayed al-Shabwani was killed in fighting on Tuesday near the town of Zinjibar, a provincial capital that has been held by al-Qaida-linked militants since May.
The statement said one of the leader's cousins, Awad al-Shabwani, was also killed in the fighting, but it gave no further details.
Ayed al-Shabwani has been on the government's list of most-wanted al-Qaida linked militants. He escaped death in January when Yemeni warplanes bombed the Wadi Adeeda area, 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of Sanaa, Yemen's capital, in Marib province.
The government then claimed the airstrike killed al-Shabwani along with al-Qaida's military chief, Qassim al-Raimi, and four other operatives of the group. But al-Qaida released a statement shortly afterward denying any of its men were killed in the raid.
Al-Shabwani is from the al-Shabwani tribe in the province of Shabwa and is believed to have his tribe's protection. He is accused of providing sanctuary for top al-Qaida figures in the country and was implicated in several fatal attacks on security troops and police officers.
Al-Qaida in Yemen has been taking advantage of the turmoil arising from months of anti-regime protests across much of the poor Arab nation, seizing and holding territory in the south. Al-Qaida's growing presence in Yemen has been a source of serious concern to the United States and Yemen's rich Arab Gulf neighbors.
In its attempt to dislodge the militants from the towns of Zinjibar and Jaar — both in Abyan province — warplanes and heavy artillery pounded their positions throughout Wednesday night and early Thursday, killing more than 20 militants, military officials said.
They said at least 13 soldiers were killed and more than 60 wounded in fighting against militants at al-Code area, near Zinjibar, over the past 24 hours.
Soldiers reported seeing the bodies of dozens of militants killed in government shelling of the area, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
As many as 90,000 people are thought to have fled Abyan province to the port city of Aden and other nearby cities after the militants seized Zinjibar and Jaar.
Elsewhere, government troops opened fire on a large anti-government demonstration in the city of Taiz, killing one protester, activist Mahmoud Taha said.
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19 September 2011 Last updated at 16:01
Yemen unrest: A deadly game of elite brinkmanship By Ginny Hill Chatham House
When the ripple effect of the Arab Spring spread to Yemen earlier this year, it sparked a popular youth-led revolution and a parallel power struggle between three rival factions.
These three factions - President Ali Abdullah Saleh's family, the Ahmar family and leading army general Ali Mohsin - all belong to a privileged elite at the heart of Yemen's regime.
But pressures generated by successive weeks of street protests throughout the spring, combined with their existing suspicions and jealousies of one another, forced long-standing rivalries into the open.
In March, following a sniper attack on the protesters' camp in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, Gen Ali Mohsin broke ranks with Mr Saleh.
In May, fighting broke out between Mr Saleh's family and the Ahmar family in the Hasaba district of Sanaa when the president refused to sign a Gulf-backed transition deal. Clashes were abruptly halted after a botched bomb plot to kill the president left him badly injured.
Mr Saleh was evacuated to Riyadh for medical treatment, and Vice-President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi assumed nominal control.
Yemen's constitution allows for the emergency transfer of power to the vice-president for up to 60 days, but the 60-day deadline came and went at the start of August, and Mr Saleh continued to insist that he was still in charge.
As the summer wore on, negotiations over the transition of power were sliding into stalemate. Instead of outright confrontation, competing factions took part in proxy clashes in Arhab - just north of Sanaa airport - the highland city of Taiz and Abbyan, a southern coastal province.
By late August, at the end of Ramadan, Mr Saleh was still recuperating in Riyadh.
His repeated promises to return to Sanaa, which had kept Yemenis on tenterhooks for months, had come to nothing.
But Mr Saleh's son, Ahmed Ali, and Ahmed Ali's three cousins, Tarik, Amar and Yahya - who control the Republican Guard and other elite security and intelligence units - remained embedded in the presidential palace in Sanaa. Fresh tensions
Tensions began to rise again in early September.
On 12 September, Mr Saleh issued a decree granting his deputy, Mr Hadi, authority to negotiate a transition deal.
The international community welcomed the move, and the US government confidently voiced expectations that arrangements for a "peaceful and orderly transition" would be agreed within a week.
However, Mr Saleh's opponents were sceptical, sensing more delaying tactics.
The ensuing days saw renewed clashes in Sanaa between security forces under the control of Mr Saleh's family and the Ahmar brothers.
On Sunday, protesters - determined to break the stalemate over the transition talks and maintain momentum for change - marched outside the boundaries of their camp, along Zubayri Street.
Gunmen under the control of Mr Saleh's family opened fire on the protesters on Zubayri Street, killing 26 people and injuring many more.
Sunday's assault provoked immediate retaliation from Gen Ali Mohsin, who had pledged to protect the protest camp, known as Change Square.
Clashes between units under the control of Mr Saleh's family and Gen Ali Mohsin's division continued on Monday, centred around Zubayri Street and Change Square. At least another 20 people have been killed by security forces in the continuing crackdown.
Reports on Twitter suggested Ali Mohsin's division was also trying to push south towards the presidential palace.
Fighting has closed off one of Sanaa's main arterial roads, creating traffic jams and extended queues at petrol stations, as drivers anticipate future shortages and price rises.
Monday's violence came as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva condemned the excessive use of lethal force by security forces under the control of Mr Saleh's family.
A report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued last week, noted that Yemen's authorities "appeared to have lost effective control of parts of the country and within the major cities" and warned that Yemen was confronted by the prospect of civil war.
Ginny Hill runs the Yemen Forum at Chatham House, an independent international affairs think-tank.
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As it's AQAP related and this is the only thread that turns up for an AQAP search...
Al-Qaeda 'propaganda expert' arrested in London A computer specialist has been accused of traveling to Yemen to help provide graphic design expertise as part of a propaganda push by al-Qaeda to find western recruits.
Samir Khan helped run al-Qaeda's propaganda efforts in Yemen until his death last September Photo: AP
Minh Quang Pham, 29, is said to have sworn an oath of allegiance to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) after leaving Britain to join the terrorist group in December 2010.
He is said to have received military-style training and helped AQAP with their propaganda efforts before returning to Britain eight months later.
Pham, who allegedly used the pseudonym “Amin,” is thought to be Vietnamese but sources say he had been living in New Cross, South London since at least 2005 where he ran his own computer company.
He was arrested on his return to Heathrow via Bahrain on July 27 last year when a (as in 'one') live ammunition round was found in his possession. He was subsequently served with a deportation notice on national security grounds but last week he was re-arrested on a US extradition warrant.
An indictment released by the US Department of Justice and seen by the Daily Telegraph, accuses Pham of providing material support to AQAP, based in Yemen, along with others “known and unknown.” Related Articles
He is said have “facilitated communications and provided expert advice and assistance in photography and graphic design” for AQAP’s media wing.
He allegedly met two American citizens, referred to only as “American CC-1” and “American CC-2”, working with the former to produce online propaganda for AQAP.
At the time Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both of whom were US citizens, were running the propaganda operation for AQAP which included the notorious on-line magazine called “Inspire.”
The first edition of the slickly-produced magazine included a recipe called “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” by the “al-Qaeda Chef” which has been found in the hands of a number of terrorist suspects in Britain. Both men were killed in a drone attack in September last year.
The Americans say that Pham and his associates provided “personnel, property, services, facilities, communications equipment, expert advice and assistance, training and weapons.”
In return, he allegedly received training from AQAP last March in the use of an automatic Kalashnikov assault rifle and for the next four months carried and used the firearm as part of his training.
The charges say that Pham knew that AQAP “had engaged and was engaging in terrorist activity.” He now faces life in jail in the US.
His arrest comes as Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, warned last week that Yemen has become a destination for a small number of British “would-be jihadis” seeking to use the Arab Spring for training and militant activity.
Janice Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge at the FBI said: “The defendant not only allegedly pledged an oath to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and received military training from AQAP, he also helped design and disseminate its propaganda.
“The investigation that led to this indictment is the result of the kind of cooperation and coordination, domestically and internationally, that is essential in the effort to prevent acts of terrorism.”
Preet Bharara, US Attorney for Manhattan, New York, praised the “extraordinary cooperation” of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI’s Washington Field Office who worked with the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in Britain to secure the arrest.
A Home Office spokesman said: "Pham, who is wanted in the US for terrorism related offences, was arrested in the UK on 29 June and has been remanded in custody. He will appear in court in due course.”
Vietnam has 63,146 Muslims according to the 1999 census, less than one per cent of the population, three quarters of them living in the South East of the country and largely from the Cham ethnic group, who are related to Malays.
Appeal No: SC/114/2012 Hearing Date: 13th & 14th June 2012 Date of Judgment: 29th June 2012
1. The appellant was born on 9th February 1983 of Vietnamese parents in Mongai Vietnam. It is common ground that he was a Vietnamese national by birth, under Article 2.1 of the Order of the Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, No. 53 dated 20th October 1945. He says that his parents told him that they and he left Vietnam when he was one month old and travelled by sea to Hong Kong, where the family remained for approximately seven years. In August 1989 they arrived in the United Kingdom and claimed asylum. They were granted indefinite leave to remain and granted British citizenship in 1995. The appellant does not believe that his parents or he took any step to renounce their Vietnamese nationality. The only document which the appellant has evidencing any connection with Vietnam is his birth certificate. Neither he nor, it seems, his parents have ever held a Vietnamese passport.
2. On 20th and 22nd December 2011 the Secretary of State took a series of steps in relation to the appellant. First on 20th December, she decided to deprive him of British citizenship on conducive grounds for reasons of national security. On 22nd December the decision notice was served upon him. Later on the same day, the Secretary of State made an order under section 40(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 depriving the appellant of his British citizenship. That order was then served on the appellant, together with notice of a decision by the Secretary of State to deport him to Vietnam under section 3(5)(a) of the Immigration Act 1971. He was then detained. On 13th January 2012 the appellant appealed against both decisions to SIAC. One of the grounds of appeal against the deprivation decision is that the order to deprive him of citizenship would make him stateless, so that the Secretary of State was not permitted to make it under section 40(4) of the 1981 Act. On 1st February 2012, SIAC ordered that a preliminary hearing be held to determine that question. That hearing was held on 13th and 14th June 2012. This is SIAC’s open judgment on that question. There is also a closed judgment, to which any appellate court would need to refer fully to understand the reasons for our decision.
3. Because a small number of documents which should have remained closed in the interests of the international relations of the United Kingdom were inadvertently disclosed to the appellant’s representatives, there has been a short private session from which the public and the appellant, but not his legal representatives (who gave appropriate undertakings) were excluded. We have taken into account the evidence adduced and the submissions made in that private session, but there is no need for a confidential judgment upon them. Our principal conclusions are set out in this open judgment. One matter of detail is dealt with in the closed judgment.
4. It is unnecessary to set out the Secretary of State’s open case justifying the decisions to deprive and deport in any detail. A brief summary is required to understand the position of the Vietnamese government about the Secretary of State’s decisions. The open case is that the appellant, having converted to Islam, became an Islamist extremist. He admits that he travelled to Yemen in December 2010 and remained there until 25th July 2011. It is the assessment of the Security Service that while there, he received some form of terrorist training from Al Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula and would, if at liberty, pose an active threat to the safety and security of the United Kingdom and its inhabitants.
Some Data Points on Minh Qhang Pham, AQAP’s Graphic Artist of Mass Destruction By: emptywheel Monday July 2, 2012 2:12 pm
On Friday, the government indicted Minh Quang Pham for material support of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The indictment and the press release make it clear (though don’t say explicitly–though this report confirms it) that Pham’s primary alleged crime was helping Samir Khan produce Inspire magazine.
In or about April 2011, PHAM worked with a United States citizen (“American CC-1″) to create online propaganda for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
[Pham] facilitated communications between al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and supporters; and provided expert advice and assistance in photography and graphic design of media for al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Meaning CC-2 is Anwar al-Awlaki.
In or about April 2011, PHAM met with a United States citizen (“American CC-2″) in Yemen.
Given the centrality of Pham’s alleged association with Khan and Awlaki, consider the following chronology and the additional details below.
December 2010: Pham travels from the UK to Yemen.
March and April 2011: Pham carries a Kalashnikov.
April 2011: Pham works with Samir Khan and meets Anwar al-Awlaki.
“About” May 2011: UndieBomb infiltrator travels from UK to Yemen.
September 27, 2011: AQAP releases Inspire, Issue 7.
September 30, 2011: Khan and Awlaki killed in drone strike
December 2011: Pham returns to the UK; “Prior to his arrest [June 29, 2012], PHAM was held by British authorities in immigration custody.”
Around April 20, 2012: UndieBomb 2.0 and his handler removed from Yemen.
May 3, 2012: AQAP releases Inspire Issues 8 and 9.
May 7, 2012: UndieBomb 2.0 revealed.
May 11, 2012: British role in recruiting UndieBomb 2.0 revealed.
May 26, 2012: False AQAP statement released.
June 29, 2012: Pham arrested (presumably in Britain); indicted in US.
First, note that some of alleged acts–notably carrying a Kalashnikov–might require an inside source to learn.
Then consider you had someone coming from the UK to Yemen not long before the UndieBomb 2.0 infiltrator. Unlike UndieBomb 2.0, Pham appears to have decided to leave after his partner in propaganda, Khan, got killed. But then he appears to have been held in immigration custody for 6 months–which happens to cover the time UndieBomb 2.0 infiltrator and his handler were still in Yemen.
How interesting, too, that Pham is being tried here in the US, not in the UK (where the crimes are slightly different but where terrorist propaganda is even more criminalized than here, if I understand the law correctly). Why do you suppose they’re trying him here and not in the UK, where he has just been held for 6 months?
Meanwhile, I’ve always been intrigued that the latest versions of Inspire were released between the time when UndieBomb 2.0 was whisked out of Yemen and the time first the purported plot, then UndieBomb 2.0′s role it, was revealed. Then, several weeks later, someone released a false AQAP announcement claiming AQAP had been infiltrated. Pham would have been in British custody during this period.
Finally, there’s this rather interesting language. As a lot of indictments that fall under the federal terrorism statute do, this one has language on forfeiture under 18 USC 981. But note the way it phases this language on forfeiture.
As a result of planning and perpetuating Federal crimes of terrorism against the United States … defendant  shall forfeit … all right, title, and interest in all assets, foreign and domestic, affording a source of influence over al Shabaab and AQAP.
This guy, presumably, doesn’t have a whole lot of financial goods to forfeit. Nevertheless, the government is going to the trouble of seizing all his interest in assets affording Pham influence over al Shabaab and AQAP.
Those are, mind you, just data points. But some fairly intriguing ones.
Vietnamese-American Minh Quang Pham is charged with providing aid to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and receiving training from the terrorist group in an indictment unsealed in New York Friday. Pham is also being charged for helping al-Qaida's online propaganda efforts, which remain one of the group's most effective means of motivating attacks in the West.
According to the indictment, Pham traveled from the United Kingdom to Yemen around December 2010, and was involved in suspected aid to al-Qaida until July 2011. The court document notes how Pham acquired a Kalashnikov rifle and training from al-Qaida, met with another American citizen to create terrorist propaganda, and pledged his allegiance to the group.
From the indictment, Pham appears to have been actively participating with AQAP just months before the United States killed senior American al-Qaida propagandists Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. The drone strike effectively halted AQAP's reach in the English-speaking world, although the group released two additional issues of the Inspire magazine produced by al-Awlaki and Khan.
In July 2011, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared AQAP the greatest terrorist threat to the United States, eclipsing even al-Qaida's core in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The organization since has greatly expanded its territory in Yemen, a failed state facing numerous threats from breakaway rebel factions.