Middle Eastern media has reported that Al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki, recently killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, had been residing in the homes of various Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood leaders. According to an Al-Ahram report:
On Friday, US Hellfire missiles killed Al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and two other Yemenis in Al-Khasef area between Mareb and Al-Jawaf. The four men were in Al-Awlaki’s car according to locals who saw Al-Awlaki and his comrades days before the attack. The locals told Al-Ahram Weekly that Al-Awlaki came to Al-Jawf 10 days ago and he was staying in three places. The house of Salem Saleh Afrag, the local driver who was killed with him, was the first place. Al-Awlaki was killed immediately after he left this house. Khamis Afrag, brother of Salem, is a leading member in the Islamist opposition party, Islah. The second place was the farm of local tribal leader Amin Al-Okaimi in Al-Jar. Al-Okaimi is a member of parliament and chairman of Islah. Many Al-Qaeda operatives including Egyptians, Algerians and Libyans are supposedly still hiding in the farm of Al-Okaimi until now, according to local sources. Al-Okaimi and his tribesmen have been controlling the eastern province of Al-Jawf since March when ex-general Mohsen encouraged them to dismiss the president’s loyalists and replace them with rebel troops. The third place frequented by Al-Awlaki was the farm of the Islamist leader Abdel-Majid Al-Zandani, wanted by the UN and US as a global terrorist, in the area of Nebta in the same province of Al-Jawf. Al-Awlaki survived a number of assassination attempts since May. The last was 20 September, when he and a Saudi national survived a drone attack in Al-Mahfad in Abyan province.
An Israeli research center has issued has identified the Al-Islah party as the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen:
….the al-Islah (Reform) party, generally described as the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. This party was created in September 1990, bringing together Islamist figures, tribal leaders, and businessmen. From its foundation until late 2007, it was headed by Shaykh Abdallah al-Ahmar, chief of the most prominent tribal confederation (the Hashid, of which Ali Abdallah Salih’s tribe, Sanhan, itself is a member) and speaker of parliament. More than a year after Shaykh Abdallah al-Ahmar’s death on December 29, 2007, the tribal and political consequences are still unclear. The party loosely brings together individuals with different agendas and strategies and has proven its ability to adapt to the changing internal, and international, context. The party has taken part in the democratization process since its inception, competing in free elections and participating in the parliament. While debate over whether the democratic system holds religious legitimacy may exist inside the party, al-Islah overtly accepts the multiparty system and has never supported direct armed confrontation with the government. It collaborates with the regime and could even be considered an integral part of it. In 1994, during the secession war opposing Southern elites to the North, militias supported by al-Islah assisted the government in defeating the socialist-led secessionists. Today, al-Islah is well-implanted in numerous regions of the country (including in the former Marxist South, where anti-socialist reaction is strong and favors Islamist candidates and platforms). Nationally, it won an average of 18 percent of the vote during the 1993, 1997, and 2003 parliamentary elections (though the elections’ lack of transparency reduces the significance of this data).
The Gloria report also discusses Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, one of the most important leaders of Al-Islah and designated by the U.S. as a terrorist:
Aside from its deceased leader Abdallah al-Ahmar and his sons (including Hamid, a successful businessman), the most prominent figures of al-Islah include Yahya Lutfi al-Fusayl, Muhammad Qahtan, Muhammad al-Yadumi (who took over the leadership after the death of al-Ahmar), and Abd al-Majid al-Zindani. Al-Zindani is likely the most famous of all and is said to embody the radical component of al-Islah. This former comrade of Zubayri, heads the al-Iman religious university in San’a and spent many years in Saudi Arabia. In the 1980s, he organized for Yemeni fighters to be sent to Afghanistan and thereby gained stature. In the post-September 11 context, Zindani has frequently been described by the American administration as a close partner of bin Ladin. His historical role has protected him from direct government repression. He plays an ambiguous role, acting both as a mainstream popular figure (his criticism of American foreign policy is commonly accepted by Yemenis) and a marginal one, as he represents a bridge to a type of violent militancy that does not appeal to many.
A previous post discussed Sheikh al-Zindani’s ties to Al Qaeda as well as to the global Muslim Brotherhood.
A recent post discussed the awarding of a Nobel Peace prize to an Al-Islah figure.