Counter-Terrorism: Why Moslem Countries Cooperate Against al Qaeda


September 24, 2005: Yemen, despite having an ongoing civil war with Islamic conservative Shia tribes on the Saudi border, plus many Sunni Arab Yemenis being big fans of al Qaeda, has made progress crippling terrorist operations in their territory. The recent arrest of al Qaedas senior man in Yemen, Mubkhit Salih al Kuabi was a major operation. More attacks on American ships were planned by al Qaeda, and al Kuabi was sent to make it happen. Apparently, the intelligence efforts of several Arab countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were used to identify and locate al Kuabi (who was working for Iraqi al Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi.)

Al Kuabi turned out to be a very senior guy, very well connected, and very useful once interrogators got to work on him. Yemen plays down this cooperation with other Arab countries, mainly because the Sunni Arab leaders of those nations fear the popular appeal of al Qaeda and their suicide bomber "martyrs."

Sunni Arabs don't like the idea of democracy in Iraq, and would really like the Sunni Arab minority there to be back in power. Al Qaeda wants that as well, but they want a Sunni Arab religious leader running the show. Al Qaeda also wants to take all the current Arab leaders and behead them. This is part of al Qaeda's appeal to the average Arab. This is also the reason for the energetic efforts by Arab governments to wipe out al Qaeda.

Bahrain, however, publicly admitted that they had signed a deal with Yemen to share information on terrorism, and organized crime. That's another problem in the area. Criminal gangs have long benefited by lax law enforcement in the region, especially if the gang boss developed friends in government, and was a big tipper. Controlling organized crime is right up there with suppressing Islamic terrorism, for Gulf Arab governments.

But it's not just Arab leaders who have serious problems with terrorists and gangsters. Bosnia and Albania, with their large Moslem populations, are finding more evidence of al Qaeda cells operating in their territory. West European counter-terrorism agencies keep coming up with leads that are traced back to Bosnia and Albania. Both nations also suffer from a surplus of criminal gangs, and it's believed that some of the gangsters are knowingly working with al Qaeda. Local officials insist there are no terrorists in their back yards. There have been no attacks in the area, but that is thought to be the result of al Qaeda realizing they have more to gain by keeping their heads down and avoiding detection, so they can maintain bases close to all those juicy European targets. So far, their strategy seems to be working.


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