Political Analysis

Yemen Arrests Al-Qaeda Cell Involved in Police Academy Attack

Yemeni political, tribal forces and ruling authorities are no longer able to predict the deterioration of the security situation. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) recent terrorist attack was targeting the police academy in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. An explosives-laden vehicle driven by a suicide bomber blew up early Wednesday at the gates of a police academy in Sana’a, killing and wounding dozens of applicants who were lined up at the building’s gate; at least 38 people had been killed and more than 90 had been wounded.

The latest blast came in a well-fortified part of the capital, close to sensitive installations including the Central Bank, the Defense Ministry and the Saudi Embassy. The attacker struck as students, bundled up against the bitter winter cold, waited just before 7 a.m. for the academy to open. The powerful explosion blew out windows in shops and nearby homes, wrecking cars parked nearby.

Yemeni security forces have arrested five suspected Al-Qaeda members accused of carrying out a car bomb attack on the police academy. General Abdel Razaq al-Moayed said the five members of “an Al-Qaeda cell” had been detained and that a sixth suspect, the owner of the vehicle used in Wednesday’s attack, was being sought by authorities. The official said the first suspect was arrested Wednesday at the scene of the attack and had provided the names of the other four cell members.

“The vehicle owner was identified by the registration documents,” Moayed added. Yemen’s top security body blamed Al-Qaeda for the blast. But a leader of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Sheikh Saleh Abdel Ilah al-Dahab, denied any involvement by the militant group in Wednesday’s attack.

“Al-Qaeda has nothing to do with the incident,” he wrote on Twitter, accusing the Shiite Houthi militia that overran Sana’a in September of being behind the bombing.

Jalal al-Rowaishan, Yemeni Interior Minister, has sacked both the director of the country’s police academy in Sana’a Dr. Abdullah Haran and the Director of the Police Officers Club Dr. Abdulkaliq al-Saloi, one day after a car bombing killed dozens of people and injured others just outside its premises.

“The minister dismissed Dr. Abdullah Haran as the director of the police academy and appointed Abdullah Qiran in his stead,” the source said.

The funeral of the police academy attack’s victims in Sana’a was on Friday January 9th. Mourners asked relevant agencies to take firm action and prosecute the perpetrators of this crime, and those who stand behind.

It was not the first attack that targeting the police academy. On Wednesday, 11 July 2012 a suicide bomber killed at least 22 people, mostly cadets, inside a police academy in Sana’a. Turmoil in Yemen, already high since a 2011 popular uprising that led to a change of government and splits in the army, has accelerated since September when the Houthi militias seized Sana’a.

A number of embassies, organizations, politicians and political, social, civil bodies issued immediate statements of condemnation and obituaries for the terrorist attack targeting applicants in the police academy and asked for a quick investigation into this attack.

The European Union’s statement said, “The explosion outside the Police Academy in Sana’a is the latest of a series of terrorist attacks aimed at destabilizing Yemen’s transition. Our thoughts and sympathy go to the dozens of victims of today’s blast and to their families, as well as to those of the attacks that hit Dhamar on 3 January and Ibb on 31 December.”

“Restoring security and completing the transition process are paramount to achieving the objectives of stability and prosperity set out by the GCC initiative in 2011. All political actors should play a constructive role by promoting their policies and addressing their grievances through the peaceful channels of dialogue at a moment when progress is within reach on the constitutional and political tracks.”

“The European Union will increase its assistance for the reform of the police and the Ministry of Interior as well as its support for the constitutional process. The European Union stands by the Yemeni people in these challenging times.”

The United States, also, condemned the attack on the Police Academy of Sana’a and “the senseless murder and injury of Yemeni citizens, many of whom sought to undertake public service and protect the Yemeni people. We express our sincere condolences to the victims and their families.”

“We honor the Yemeni men and women who work each day, often at great personal risk, to build a better, more peaceful future for them, their families, and all Yemenis. We continue to stand with the Government of Yemen and the Yemeni people to counter the shared threat posed by terrorists,” USA statement said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey said that, “We strongly condemn the bomb attack perpetrated today (January 7th) in Sana, the capital of Yemen, which targeted, as it is understood, the persons waiting to apply for job vacancies in a police station and caused the death and injury of many. We wish God’s mercy upon those who lost their lives in the attack, convey our condolences to their relatives and the brotherly people of Yemen, and wish a speedy recovery of those injured.”

“The control of legitimate State authority throughout the country is essential to fight effectively against the terrorist attacks, which are recently increasing in Yemen as we sadly observe, and to establish the public order. We reiterate our support to the Yemeni Government towards this goal.”

A statement by Foreign Press Secretary Kuni Sato, Japan, said “Japan is deeply shocked and feels indignant against the terrorist attack which targeted the Yemeni police academy resulting in numerous deaths and injuries on January 7, in Sana’a City. Japan offers its deep condolences to the victims and the bereaved families, and prays for the early recovery of those who were injured.”

“Japan strongly condemns such acts of terrorism, which targets innocent people, as totally unacceptable and reiterates that in no circumstances can any act of terrorism be justified.”