East of Aden--Al Qaeda's wretched utopia

Driving east out of Aden, we were just a few hundred metres past the last army checkpoint when we saw the black al-Qaida flag. It flew from the top of a concrete building that had been part-demolished by shelling.
From here into the interior, all signs of control by the government ofYemen disappeared. This is the region of newly proclaimed jihadi emirates in south Yemen that are run by affiliates of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni franchise of the movement founded by Osama bin Laden.
AQAP has existed in this ragged, mountainous terrain for years, but in the last 12 months the jihadis have moved down from the high ground to take control of cities in the lowlands. They are in the process of setting up an al-Qaida utopia here, where security is provided by jihadis, justice follows sharia law and even the administration of electricity and water supplies is governed by the emir.
Azzan, a market town in Shabwa province a year ago, is one of the three proclaimed Islamic emirates in south Yemen. When the Guardian approached it, the town entrance was defended by more than a dozen fighters equipped with armoured vehicles that had been commandeered from the government. We were met by three young jihadis and taken to the spot where the 17-year-old son of AQAP's spiritual leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed, presumably by an American drone. Awlaki himself was killed in a separate strike last year.
At a small store on the side of the road, young men sat at computers copying the sermons of Awlaki, the al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and other household names of the global jihad. A poster on the wall advertised a film called The Survivors, featuring accounts of leaders who had survived drone strikes.
The city's old police station has been converted into a sharia court. Inside, in a room whose walls were hung with the symbols of the jihadi court – a black flag, a kalashnikov and a long stick used for delivering corporal punishment – sat the judge. He opened a small notebook as a demonstration of how the al-Qaida justice system had resolved 42 cases in a fortnight.
"People come to us from parts we don't control and ask us to solve their problems," he said. "The sharia justice system is swift and incorruptible. Most of the cases we solve within the day."
Had they had cut off any hands in dispensing justice?
"Cutting the hand of the thief is not to punish the thief, it is to deter the rest of society," he said.
There is much more.

The reporter travels to other towns under the control of the Islamic religious bigots of al Qaeda.  They are a long way from being defeated in Yemen where they try to take advantage of the chaos they have created.  The Long War will continue with these people, because they are making war on us.  They are determined to kill all who do not agree with their weird religious beliefs.


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