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Guest Thinkers

Monday Papers

The head of the criminal investigation unit in Marib was kidnapped yesterday, and is reportedly being held in exchange for the release of tribal prisoners.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat is reporting on the suicide bomber in Shibam, and is linking it to what I heard yesterday. Namely, that this could be in response to Yemen’s arrest of Saudi suspect ‘Abdullahal-Harbi. I have my doubts about this theory, and I don’t believe it is a simple cause and effect as some would have it. (or as in the famous West Wing episode: post hoc ergo propter hoc) Especially given that al-Ayyam is reporting that al-Harbi, who is on the Saudi wanted list of 85 suspects, was arrested early Sunday morning in Taizz’s Old City. Hmm, a strange place to be arrested, right by bab al-kabir.

More broadly, the two incidents are linked because they both likely involved al-Qaeda suspects, but I would be very hesitant about linking them any more directly than this. The same goes for linking this to the surrender of al-Qaeda suspects in Abyan, such as al-Khadir al-Hadib. I think these are explanations and theories being put forward by people attempting to explain the unknown: why al-Qaeda attacked when it did and where it did?

Still no news of Sada al-Malahim on the jihadi forums, although I expect it will be posted fairly soon, possibly this week. Also the vast majority of the threads I have been reading give little information beyond what is in the news reports and expressing joy at the attack.

One development to watch is whether or not Sada al-Malahim is posted along with a statement taking responsibility for the attack. Prior to the death of Hamza al-Qu’ayti in August 2008, attacks such as this would typically be followed within a day or two by a statement of responsibility. The September 2008 attack on the US Embassy was not followed by such a statement, but at that time most of the forums were down, which delayed the release of the fifth issue of Sada al-Malahim to November.

How al-Qaeda handles this should explain a great deal. I’m less confident, however, that the name of the attacker will explain much. According to early reports he appears to be young, which fits the profile of other suicide attackers such as the one that killed the Spanish tourists in Marib in July 2007, the one in training that was killed in August 2007, and the one that carried out the attack in Sayy’un in July 2008.


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