Thinking of security differently
But it also made me stop to think and raise a red flag about the way security in Yemen is being managed.
Let me give you an example:
On the same day and just a few hours before the terrorist attack. I had a meeting in an office with very tight security. I was trying to explain who I was and the purpose of my visit to a security guard in his thirties at the gate when he grabbed the paper I was holding in my hand.
I now know how bulls feel when they see red – (although it turns out they are color blind) – as I snatched the paper back and started shouting at him.
“How dare you take that paper from my hand like that? You have the right to ask for an ID or search my bag but you have no right to just grab anything in reach!!”
“Calm down lady, I can’t even read!”
At that point I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. The anger ceased immediately and the commotion had caused someone from inside to quickly come out and save the situation by whisking me in despite this guard’s complaining and hesitation.
They had informed him I had a meeting and my name had already been given but for some reason it failed to reach him. In order to save his bruised ego, he asked to search my bag, which I allowed him do, and I then went off to my meeting.
There are three ways the unity parade suicide bomber could have infiltrated the group of Central Security soldiers: One is while they were still at their base, the second is while they were on their way to the parade and the third is joining them when they were already there.
We know now that there were security measures locking down the parade area for two days prior to the parade. We also know that each group was a specific number of soldiers, who when lined up, formed a perfect square. This means that the bomber and his accomplices, - our sources indicate there were three of them, two currently being interrogated with the third being the main bomber, now in pieces - must have been on the list from the beginning.
This means they are either Central Security soldiers who’ve turned against the state, or simply men who managed to get on the list prior to the parade. In Yemen it is extremely easy to buy any military uniform, especially for the lower ranks. We have previously published an entire story in the Yemen Times about how anyone can go and buy military clothing, including jackets, pants or other needed items.
In the story we also discovered that relatives or siblings wear each others’ clothes, so a civilian could have borrowed his brother’s uniform if he had wanted to.
Access to the uniform is not a problem, and access to the list could be as easy as signing up for a volunteer group, especially considering many security guards and soldiers can’t read.
No matter how long we fight terrorism by attacking Al-Qaeda hideouts or allowing US drone strikes, Yemen will never be safe. As long as our security forces lack high standards, what’s the point in thinking they can protect us? They may have the best intentions, but in the war we are fighting today against terrorism we need to rethink our state’s attitude towards security personnel and recruitment criteria.