Al-Qaeda affiliates free prisoners
According to a Republican Guard source in Al-Sawadia who requested that his name not be revealed, this group is the same as that which surrounded the Republican Guard in Yafe’ in early 2011.
According to locals, the prisoners were in Rada’s central prison, and 165 of them had been sentenced to death.
The group – which calls itself Ansar Al-Sharia – killed two soldiers at a checkpoint on Monday, kidnapped 11 more, and left with two military vehicles.
Persons from Rada’ told the Yemen Times that security forces are still looking for the prisoners.
Some perceive that the freeing of prisoners may be part of plans to assassinate government figures.
Ansar Al-Sharia said that they appointed Al-Dhahab as their leader and that they want to declare Rada’ to be an Islamic emirate.
Al-Dhahab, who entered Rada’ on Saturday, appeared on the BBC saying that he only wanted to stay in Al-Ameria mosque.
According to the TV interview, Al-Dhahab said that he did not seize Rada’; rather, the move was simply about refusing injustice. He said that he had dealt with political parties in Yemen such as the Socialist, Islah and General People’s Congress parties, but he did not feel there is any use for them.
Al-Dhahab is the son-in-law of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric and leading Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen.
Al-Dhahab demanded that the government release 400 individuals whom he said were “arrested arbitrarily.”
According to sources close to Al-Dhahab, he also asked the authorities to release his brother, Nabeel Al-Dhahab, who was arrested by political security forces. His brother had been attempting to travel to Iraq by way of Syria to participate in Al-Qaeda operations.
A source from the security forces told the Yemen Times that security units supported by tribesmen continue to surround Ansar Al-Sharia. The latter seized the local council headquarters, Rada’ fort, and the Al-Ameria school and mosque.
Mohammad Al-Qawsi, head of the Rescue Police, sent soldiers from the Republican Guard to remove the Islamists from Rada’.
Locals have said that members of Ansar Al-Sharia have had clashes with armed persons believed to be Houthis. One from Ansar Al-Sharia was killed and sandbags were placed by the Houthis, apparently readying themselves for the possibility of confrontations.
Mohammad Abdulla, 33, of Rada’ told the Yemen Times that security forces, along with forces belonging to Jaroon – a tribesman from Al-Bahday – are surrounding Rada’.
Ahmad Al-Samawi of Rada’ said that people feel panicked and that they might flee their homes if clashes between the Islamists and the security forces arise.
According to a source from security forces stationed in Dhamar, 100 km southern Sana’a, Ansar Al-Sharia had collaborated with tribesmen to seize Republican Guard camps there.
Al-Dhahab has established a training camp in Qaifa, between Dhamar and Marib. Armed groups were recruited to make explosives, according to local sources in Dhamar.
Houthis, who, starting in 2004, have had six rounds of war with the government, have accused the regime of submitting the district to the Islamists, drawing a connection with the surrender of Abyan to Al-Qaeda in May.
Opposition-aligned military figures have accused the regime of planning for such a scenario with the aim of delaying early elections set to be held in February.