The Telegraph reported yesterday that an internal assessment of Yemeni security is the “gloomiest” yet. But that depends on whether the Yemenis think that a growing network of al-Qaeda terrorists is a gloomy proposition:
Dozens of Saudi and Egyptian veterans of al-Qaeda’s operations in Afghanistan have been pouring into Yemen, a senior official has warned.
In the gloomiest internal assessment of Yemen’s security yet, he said jihadis from across the Arab world are hiding in the lawless hills of Shabwa province where the so-called Christmas Day “underwear bomber” is thought to have been trained, its governor, Ali Hasan al-Ahmadi, said.
“There are dozens of Saudi and Egyptian al-Qaeda militants who came to the province,” said Shabwa’s governor, Ali Hasan al-Ahmadi.
He told the al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper the militants had joined homegrown Yemeni radicals both from Shabwa and other regions of the country.
The province, in the south-east of the country, was one of the targets of a series of air raids against al-Qaeda targets conducted by the Yemeni authorities with American military support shortly before Christmas.
In order to understand the context of this report, one has to understand the situation Yemen faces right now. They have a near-civil war in motion, thanks to a Shi’ite rebellion in the north. The southern portion of Yemen wants to secede and form its own nation. On top of that, al-Qaeda has begun arriving in droves to foment its own radical Sunni version of Islam and conduct global terrorist operations.
Knowing all of that, would anyone believe it to be a bright idea to release dozens of Gitmo detainees in such a situation? Especially given the recidivism rate of former Gitmo detainees, which has been pegged at least at 20% for those whom we can document, would this be an environment which would be improved by more radical AQ members returning? Obviously not, since Yemen can hardly deal with the influx of terrorists and revolutionaries with whom the nation already contends.
To make matters worse, Yemen wants to join the Gulf Cooperation Council, an organization of Persian Gulf nations that operates like the older version of the EU. Nations that belong to the GCC do not require visas for travel between their nations. Releasing terrorists to Yemen would be tantamount to granting them free travel rights to countries like Qatar and Kuwait, which have significant American military presences, once Yemen joins the GCC. It also means free travel rights to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is probably why those nations have resisted Yemen’s application.
Instead of releasing Gitmo detainees to Yemen, we should be focusing on how to send Yemeni AQ leaders to Gitmo. That would not only bolster our own security, but that of Yemen and the rest of the Gulf nations.