Who Is The Yemeni Islamic Jihad Group?

Little is known about the Yemeni Islamic Jihad group, which has claimed responsibility for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa today according to al Arabiya TV station. According to media reports, the group first surfaced in Yemen in the early 1990s. It is made up of local militants as well as Arab volunteers who fought against the Soviet Union troops alongside the Afghanis. The group is thought to have training camps in the mountains of Abyan, around 300 miles south of the capital Sanaa. The identity of the group's top leader is not known.

On Friday 25th July 2008, the Yemeni Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that targeted the Central Security building in Say'un city, in Hadramout province in Yemen, killing one policeman and Injuring 17 people. In a statement sent to a Yemeni News website, the group said that the aim of the attack was to protect Islam from festivals and concerts performed by some Arab singers in Yemeni cities. Security sources said the perpetrator of the suicide attack was a former student in medial college in Hadramout Science and Technology University called Ahmed Saeed Omar al Mashjari.

In the statement, the group warned that its next operation would be in Sana'a to "annihilate those who are trying to corrupt the minds of the youth through singing and the mixing of sexes." The statement demanded to cancel the concert of an Egyptian singer, Ihab Tawfeeq, within 48 hours, otherwise the concert "will be turned into crying and wailing." They also demanded that the government pay five million dollars within 48 hours in return for stopping its terrorist attacks – an unusual request for a militant Islamist group.

Media reports from Yemen talked about clashes taking place end of August between Yemeni security forces and operatives from the Islamic Jihad in al Jaar area in southern Yemen. The clashes broke out after the arrest on of the group's senior leaders identified as Khaled Abdel Nabi by Yemeni police. He was released a few days later.