Today in Terrorism: December 5, 2013 – Yemen car bomb attack

The conflict in Yemen is complicated: war and terrorism are killing thousands and no one seems to care.

The conflict in Yemen is complicated: war and terrorism are killing thousands and no one seems to care.

A long time ago the area of the Arabian Peninsula which is today southwestern Saudi Arabia and Yemen was known as Arabia Felix – Happy Arabia – by the Romans. It was called this because of the alleged ‘pleasant climate’ and richness in agricultural goods and spices.

This part of the world is anything but happy today.

Yemen in particular has been at war on many occasions over the past few decades, including a civil war shortly after the decision to unify the former North and South Yemens in 1990. The current conflict, dating back to 2014, has led to close to 100,000 deaths, mass starvation and the displacement of more than two million Yemenis. In total, more than 22 million are in dire need of assistance.

This war pits a Shia Islamic group called the Houthis which is aided by Iran and a Saudi/UAE-led coalition that backs the former president. In this, the killing and posturing is a miniature version of the millennia-old Shia (Iran) and Sunni (Saudi and UAE) hatred. And average Yemenis are the ones suffering.

Into this mix we have to throw in terrorism. There are Sunni Islamist extremist groups tied to both Al Qaeda (AQ – AQ in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the local affiliate) and Islamic State (ISIS) active in Yemen. As if full-out war was not bad enough.

2013 Yemen car bomb attack

A full list of the terrorist attacks in Yemen would be a long one. On this day in 2013, a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed car into Yemen’s defence ministry in the capital city of Sana’a, followed by a breach by gunmen who launched an assault on the complex which left 52 people dead and at least 150 injured. The government blamed AQAP for the attack.

At the time of writing, the killing is continuing despite many calls for all sides to stop fighting and allow the population to get the aid it desperately needs. There are few signs, however, that an end is nigh.

Terrorism is not the only evil plaguing Yemen and its people: regional powers are largely to blame for the suffering. But terrorist groups are not helping either.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply