Al-Qaeda has threatened to sever the hands of “corrupt” officials in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, where the jihadists have been trying to impose their strict version of Islamic sharia law.
“After we eliminated agents of the United States in Hadramawt and after we fought witchcraft and sorcery, we warn all corrupt officials in Hadramawt… that we will apply Allah’s law by kidnapping them and severing their hands,” said a statement signed by Ansar al-Sharia, the name under which Al-Qaeda in Yemen sometimes operates.
The statement was printed on leaflets distributed in the province, residents said.
Earlier this week, members of the network distributed similar leaflets forbidding women to leave their homes without a male guardian — known as “mahram” — and threatening to punish those who fail to comply with sharia.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is active across several parts of Yemen, taking advantage of a collapse of central authority during a 2011 uprising that ousted veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
AQAP is considered by Washington as the most dangerous affiliate of the jihadist network because of its role in failed attacks against the United States.
In addition to launching regular attacks on the security forces, AQAP has also murdered several people it accused of sorcery or being homosexual, citing Islamic law. It has also severed the hands of citizens it accused of theft.