One Yemeni policeman: a victim of the terrorist game
"Yemen's intelligence officials rewarded me with three assassination attempts for my achievement," the victim told the Yemen Times.
The policeman is now suffering from permanent disabilities due to the "on purpose accident" he sustained in Jul. 7, 2009 after he escaped three assassination attempts carried out by unknown armed men. However, he accuses Yemen's political intelligence of sending men after him after he foiled the UN building blast. After several attempts to speak to the office of political security in Sana’a, they declined to comment, saying only that “it is difficult to investigate such incidents”.
Al-Faqih, who is now seeking asylum, detailed how he caught a teenage Faysal Abdul-Aziz Al-Arifi wearing an explosive belt in Shumaila Public Market in the capital, while on duty. Al-Arifi was heading to blow up the UN office in Sana'a.
Initially, Al-Faqih thought he was bothering women. "I saw him looking left and right in a strange way, so I stopped him and asked him ‘why are you looking at women?’ He replied: ‘are you from the police station?’
“I attempted to approach him but he told me not to touch him. I asked why and he replied: ‘it is not good to tell you on the street,’ asking to meet with political security forces."
When questioned further, Al-Arifi told him: “I'm one of the followers of Abu Masa'b Al-Zurqawi [former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, killed in a US airstrike in June 2006]."
"I doubted that he was drunk or drugged, but he showed us the explosive belt strapped around his body and said his family had prepared him to blow up the UN building in 60m Road," Al-Faqih recalled.
The 17-year-old told Al-Faqih that he had come looking for the police because he didn’t want to die – he said his father’s wife had forced him into the situation. He also claimed that six families in his area of Al-Wahda, Hizyaz, south the capital Sana'a, as well as in Al-Sunaina and Al-Alkhafji, were making explosive belts and other bombs.
The belt had been fastened to the frightened boy’s body at his family home in Sana'a. He was told to go directly to the target and that if he deviated, he would be blown up.
"The boy also told us that some officers from the Republican Guards, the central security forces and the first armored division were members of their cell and they had military officers in Hajja, Shabwa and Abyan," Al-Faqih said.
Following Al-Arifi’s statements, the Counter Terrorism Unit stormed the houses he had talked about, confiscating explosive belts and devices.
“But five months later I received a threatening call from an unknown number, saying that I would serve as a lesson to all policemen for what I did in preventing the blast,” Al-Faqih said. “And on the following evening, while I was going out of Al-Sham restaurant in Shumaila, five unknown men clashed with me and attempted to stab me with a jambya, but I managed to escape on a motorbike.”
And then the assassination attempts came one after another; the second was carried out by four armed men who fired at him while as was returning from duty, but he survived. The last was the “accident” on the Ibb-Sana'a Road while Al-Faqih was traveling from his village to Sana'a in a shared taxi. He says he repeatedly asked the driver to slow down but the Land Cruiser eventually went off the road. He suffered the loss of his right eye, a broken jaw and also lost his sense of smell, according to his medical records.
Taher Al-Mahdi, a solider from Nasr’s village in Ibb told the Yemen Times that he has known Nasr since childhood and that they grow up together and joined the security personnel at the same time.
“We used to work together and we also caught the terrorist together,” said Al-Mahdi “After that, I would receive phone calls from unknown people who would ask me to stop accompanying Nasr.”
He recalled for the Yemen Times details of the accident involving himself and Nasr: “We were in the same vehicle and the driver drove fast throughout the journey. We asked him to slow down, but he [the driver] replied that another Hilux truck was following and had intercepted him.”
“At around 6:00 pm, in Dabr Khaira (25 km to the south of Sana’a), our vehicle overturned after the Hilux truck sideswiped it,” he said.
“I think this accident was purposefully caused by Al-Qaeda since it took place after threat calls, but the government never did its job, including medical treatment for us and an investigation” Al-Mahdi said.
"Before the accident I received another call from a private number telling me that I would serve as a lesson to other security officers,” he explained. “In the end I fled the country amidst these threats and an inability to do my job properly after the accident.”
Following the accident, Al-Faqih was refused medical treatment at the police hospital in Sana’a, so his family was forced to pay for private treatment at the Saudi-German hospital.
Despite the threats and the assassination attempts against Al-Faqih, the deputy minister of interior for security, Mohamed Al-Qawsi Ali Al-Qawsi declined to carry out an investigation into the cause of the accident, according to Al-Faqih. The Security Chief of the capital Sana’a at the time, Mohamed Al-Zumani also refused a letter from the former interior minister, Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi on Al-Faqih’s need for treatment and his critical condition.
When the Yemen Times contacted Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rahbi, the traffic officer who wrote the report on Al-Faqih’s accident, he said he could not find the report copy or comment on what caused the accident.
Al-Faqih also accuses the prosecution office in Sanhan, southeast Sana’a of manipulating his case. The prosecution gave false information to the court, he said. “They did not bring the driver who caused the accident to justice, claiming they did not know his address.”
Until now the case is still in the hands of the prosecution with written orders from the former attorney general Dr. Abdullah Al-Ulufi and Dr. Ali Al-Awash, who currently holds the position, to the prosecution office in Sanhan to take legal action, but nothing has yet been done.
Nasr Al-Faqih’s brother, Sadeq, told the Yemen Times that he received calls from unknown people “to resolve the issue,” claiming they offered him YR two million to close the case.
Sadeq said: “We accuse members of Al-Qaeda and their men inside the prosecution and security organizations of being behind all these assassination attempts.
Abd Al-Wasa’ Al-Nidari, the judge authorized to investigate the case, told the Yemen Times that “the problem has been solved cordially”.
But when challenged with Sadeq’s claims that the case has not been resolved, Al-Nidari refused to comment any further. “I can’t give you any information about this,” he said. “He [Sadeq Al-Faqih] should contact me.”
Sadeq has been seeking publicity for his brother’s case in a bid to bring him justice. “I ask all human rights organizations, the UN and human rights activists to act quickly and protect my brother,” he pleaded.
In April 2011, Nasr Al-Faqih traveled to Cairo for treatment and applied for asylum at the UN Refugee Agency. His application has not been yet fully accepted, despite being at risk in Yemen and possibly even in Egypt, after men stormed his room in Cairo, searching through his belongings.
In 2006, a year after Al-Faqih halted the terrorist attack on the UN building in Sana’a, 23 Al-Qaeda members broke out the capital’s political prison under mysterious circumstances. The Interior Ministry distributed the men’s photos with instructions to arrest them on sight. However, Al-Faqih claims he caught three of the escapees, but once in custody, General Ghaleb Al-Qamesh, chief of political security, instructed the policeman to release them.
“He [captured Al-Qaeda member] got his cell phone out of his pocket and called Al-Qamesh who spoke to me and said let them go,” Al-Faqih told the Yemen Times “But I asked for a letter from my boss to let him go and within minutes I received a call from the security chief in Sana’a to release him.
“One of the members also told me that they broke out of the political prison after they had a closed meeting with president Saleh and his top officials including his two nephews Tareq Mohamed Abdullah Saleh and Amar Saleh. Saleh told the members to leave on the condition they would not conduct any operations in Yemen. If they really wanted jihad they could do it outside of Yemen,” Al-Faqih said.
He added that “the member I caught also told me that the escaped members told Saleh they were willing to fight and Saleh told them ‘when the Americans come to Yemen all of us will fight together’.”
Abdulghani Sufyan, assistant officer at Ulaya Police Station in Sana’a, where Al-Faqih was working “Nasr is on sick leave due to the accident he had, caused by some thugs.”
“I’m one of his colleagues and he [Nasr] is really one of the noblest officers taking on many dangerous tasks.”
He went on: “The government was supposed to stand with him and investigate those who caused the accident, but the government really let him down and left him to his family to treat him from their own budget.”
Nasr’s brother told the Yemen Times that the whole family live in permanent fear since he received threats trying to stop him reporting Nasr’s case to the press – or face the same fate as his brother.
“Now my brother is abroad with no one to take care of him and we are here under pressure and in fear of any revenge attacks after talking to the press,” Sadeq said. “I ask all human rights activists and the UN in particular to look after us since our lives are now at risk.”