Help wanted: Yemen group hiring foreign mercenaries

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

CAIRO A Yemeni group is said to be the first Islamic insurgency movement that has hired mercenaries.

Yemeni security sources said the Aden-Abyan Army has employed a range of foreign nationals as mercenaries in the campaign against the government in Sanaa. They said the army consists of Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis and Sudanese.

The sources were commenting on the Yemeni military operation that captured at least 17 Aden army insurgents and killed another 10 Islamic combatants in the Hattat mountains in the Abyan province.

The Yemeni operation was conducted with the help of U.S. Special Operations Command forces and included helicopters, artillery and combat vehicles, Middle East Newsline reported.

Additional members of the Aden army have relayed their intention to surrender. The sources said the insurgents have submitted a set of unspecified conditions through tribal chiefs.

An investigation of the captured Aden army insurgents has resulted in new information about the group. The sources said the Aden army is linked to Al Qaida and was involved in the USS Cole bombing in 2000.

The sources said the group has a Shura Council that has outlined the campaign against what insurgents term the secular Yemeni government. Many of those recruited by the Aden group fought the United States in Afghanistan.

Other insurgents were members of the Islamic Jihad, an insurgency group that has operated in Yemen.

The Aden army has also employed robbers who have attacked a range of travelers in southeastern Yemen. They included Yemeni military physicians last month.

Yemen has also launched a campaign against clerics regarded as sympathizers of the Aden army. The sources said authorities have begun to restrict the movement of clerics who use mosques for anti-governments sermons.

The military operation against the Aden army came as Yemen has increased security cooperation with neighboring Saudi Arabia. Yemeni sources said the military deployed more than 3,000 soldiers along the Yemeni border in late June with the Saudi kingdom in an attempt to prevent the flight of Aden army insurgents. They said the operation was also meant to reduce smuggling of weapons and drugs into Saudi Arabia.

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