By Jim Kouri
A top military intelligence chief was shot to death late Saturday allegedly by al-Qaeda gunmen in Yemen’s southern province of al-Bayda, a Public Safety Examiner source said.
“Colonel Eyeda bin Faraj, the chief of al-Bayda’s provincial intelligence service, murdered this evening by a group of terrorists believed to have been led by al-Qaeda’s Tariq al-Dhabab,” said the Examiner source, who serves in Israel’s national police.
Yemeni intelligence personnel have been the key target of the al- Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the past several months, according to the source.
The group vowed to “eliminate all high-ranking personnel of the Yemeni government intelligence agencies.” Al-Bayda, about 100 miles south of the capital Sanaa, has recently witnessed growing activities of al-Qaeda, known locally as Ansar al-Sharia, according to security officials in the U.S.
Last month, al-Qaeda leader Tariq al-Dhahab made a deal with the Yemeni transitional government, under which the government released 15 al-Qaeda prisoners in return for the withdraw of more than 1,000 al-Qaeda terrorists from al-Bayda’s town of Radda after al-Dhahab’s group held it for a week, according to sources.
Al-Dhahab, a relative of the Yemeni-born U.S. cleric Anwar al- Awlaki, stayed with Awlaki for months before the radical cleric was killed by a U.S. UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle or drone) last September, the Israeli source said.
The AQAP took full control of several cities in the north, south and southeast of Yemen, as the Yemeni government forces engaged in fierce battles with the militants over the past months, leaving hundreds of people killed.
On Friday, the terrorist group said it agreed to start negotiations offered by the Yemeni government to reach a ceasefire deal in the southern war-torn province of Abyan.
However, the Yemen-based al-Qaeda group — al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — is denying a government announcement that it has accepted a proposal to meet and negotiate with the government over its withdrawal from Zinjibar, the capital city of southern Abyan province, and a Middle East intelligence source told the Examiner.