Death threat to Yemeni editor

Mohammed al-Alwani, managing editor of the Yemeni (linked to the Islah Party) has received a telephoneddeath threat from a man claiming to work for the government's Political Security Organisation.

Harassment of Yemen's non-governmental media has been stepped up considerably in recent months:

  • The offices of al-Ayyam newspaper in Aden – one of six papers banned last May – were attacked by security forces earlier this month.

  • In November, the NewsYemen website was destroyed by a hacker. The attack was traced back to the Yemeni telecommunications ministry.

  • In September, Mohammed al-Maqaleh (or Maqalih), editor of the Socialist Party’s website, al-Eshteraki, was taken away by armed men and hasn't been seen since. He had earlier published a story about military airstrikes against the Houthi rebels which allegedly killed more than 80 civilians.

  • In July, the head of al-Jazeera's bureau in Yemen received a telephoned death threat.

Other developments in Yemen:

Abdullah Mehdar (or Mihdar), described as a regional leader of al-Qaeda, was reportedly killed after Yemeni security forces surrounded his hideout in Shabwa province. Four suspected militants were arrested. Two soldiers died nearby in what may have been a related incident.

I'm wondering if Mehdar/Mihdar was related to Zain al-Abdin al-Mihdar, who led the Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan in the late 1990s and was eventually executed in connection with the kidnapping of a group of western tourists.

The Yemeni military lost another warplane on Wednesday – the third in little more than three months. The crash, as usual, was attributed to a technical fault. 

Last October, a Sukhoi and a MiG21 crashed within three days of each other in the north of the country. Houthi rebels said they had shot down both aircraft, though the government blamed technical faults. Wednesday's crash happened in the south, near Aden.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 14 January 2010.