By: Abdurrahman Shamlan
Immediately following the Al-Qaeda suicide bomb attack which killed more than 100 soldiers in Sana’a on May 21, despair, anger, and sorrow filled the city.
Yet rather than avoid it, many citizens have made it a point to visit the bomb site.
From May 22nd until the present day, Yemenis – young and old, male and female – have streamed to the site where the soldiers’ blood was spilled. Visitors pay their last respects and many state their refusal to abide acts of terrorism in their country.
“We have actually reached a point where nowadays a person gets killed without knowing what he was killed for. What are these terrorists targeting?” said Ahmed al-Tamimi, as he took a pause from writing his thoughts in one of three large guestbooks laid out on a table at the site.
People present at the site appeared unable to fully recover from the shock of the terror attack, with expressions of grief evident on many faces.
A group of women, men and children arrived at the site as representatives of various organizations. They had organized the trip to voice their objections to terrorism, violence and killing at the site of the Al-Sabeen attack.
Women and children placed roses alongside photographs of the slain soldiers. The photos had been plastered to a wooden wall placed just about where the blast took place.
Nafea Hashim, a young man present at the site, said, “We came to see the site of the terrorist act which targeted our dear brothers in the Central Security Forces as they rehearsed for the Unity Day parade. We also came to read Sura al-Faitha (a chapter from the Quran read for the souls of the dead).”
“What Al-Qaeda-linked militants do goes against the teachings of the Islamic religion and the traditions and customs of the Yemeni people,” Hashim added.
A man named Abdullah Hasan said, “It’s really painful and disturbing to see youths in their prime get killed for no reason. I really wonder how a person can kill himself and other people.”
Hasan said he believes Al-Qaeda militants carry out such heinous, deadly attacks because false beliefs were instilled in them by the terror network. He called on Islamic scholars to “clarify the religious misconceptions terrorists promote.”
Saleh Al-Yafai, another man present at the site, said, “We should come here to visit the martyrs who were killed in the cowardly terrorist attack. Those who stand behind this attack are terrorists who are bound to go to hell… but before God punishes them on Judgment Day, they must stand trial and be held accountable for the crimes they committed in this life.
Hanan Al-Hadi, who, accompanied by a group of friends, arrived carrying a large bouqet of flowers, said there are some people who were created to be heroes and martyrs, while some others were created to be terrorists and murderers.
“Al-Qaeda has always been a source of concern and worry, not only to Yemenis but to the entire world. Glory be to martyrs, and shame on the terrorists,” Al-Hadi added.
“I would like to extend our sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones in this atrocious attack which didn’t target one segment of society – rather, it targeted the entire nation and the Yemeni people as a whole,” said Aiham Al-Samar.
“We want the authorities to reveal to the public the identities of the people involved in this cowardly attack and for them to make an example out of them so no one would dare to carry out such attacks in the future,” added Al-Samar.
Another man present said, “All religions and human principles stand against such crimes. I would like to say this to those people who kill in the name of God and in the name of religion: ‘You have been trying to distort Islam’s image. But you only distort your own image, because our Islamic teachings are clear and decisive when it comes to prohibiting killing.”
“Our martyrs are going to dwell in paradise as opposed to the suicide bombers, who are going to dwell in hellfire,” the man added.
Nama Ali, from the Kanan Organization, said, “The tears from our eyes refuse to dry. We demand that President Hadi rule Yemen in accordance with the law and bring those responsible to justice.”
“Al-Qaeda has even become active in the Yemeni capital. We have been fighting them in Abyan for over a year. I really wonder how they could endure a year-long war with the government. They are not an organized army which should be able to defeat us. We really want to know what our army is lacking,” she concluded.