ADEN // One of the leading figures of Al Qaeda in the Araban Peninsula (AQAP) surrendered to Yemeni security forces on Thursday morning.
Aden police spokesman Abdurrahman Al Naqeeb said Taher Tammah gave himself up to security forces in the southern province of Lahj.
“Tammah surrendered to the leader of the emergency forces in Lahj province, Moneer Al Yafei, and [Mr Al Yafei] brought Tammah to the coalition forces in Aden,” said Mr Naqeeb, referring to the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting on the side of the government in Yemen’s civil war.
Tammah is considered to be one of the most dangerous leaders of AQAP in Lahj’s Yafe and Radfan districts and was sought by the security forces for the “chaos” he unleashed in the province – including helping AQAP to overtake Al Hawta, the capital of Lahj, in January.
On Wednesday, antiterrorism forces stormed the Aden home of ISIL’s military commander in Yemen, Ridhwan Qanan, and seized a large cache of weapons and explosives. Qanan was not at home when they entered and there are rumours, reported by local websites, that he is already dead after being killed in an air strike in April.
The raid, which was carried out in cooperation with coalition forces and the Aden police, was one of a series targeting known ISIL bases where arms and bomb-making equipment are stored.
Ridhwan Qanan is considered to be one of the most important ISIL players in Yemen. In the past, he has moved between Lahj and Abyan as well as Aden but has more recently been in the southern port city.
Aden police spokesman Mr Al Naqeeb said security forces had discovered a large hoard of weaponry, including TNT, explosive belts, remote-controlled explosive devices and a range of missiles and firearms.
The raid was the result of several days of intelligence gathering and investigation, Mr Al Naqeeb told The National.
Both ISIL and AQAP have exploited the civil war in Yemen between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government and the Shiite Houthi rebels. Between April and June of last year, both groups began to expand their activities and influence to the country’s southern provinces, which are broadly loyal to president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. In the June they began to target Yemeni officials and forces from the Saudi-led coalition, which also includes the UAE.
Mr Al Naqeeb said security had been stepped up in Aden in recent days following the return to the city of government ministers from exile and the announcement concerning the forthcoming relocation of Yemen’s central bank from the capital, Sanaa, which is under Houthi control.
“The security forces in Aden have intensified activity during the last few days, and will continue to chase the extremists in the province and the surrounding provinces,” he said.
ISIL and AQAP are rivals in southern Yemen and the security authorities, with coalition help, are determined to clear them both out in preparation for the government resuming office in Aden as the temporary capital.