On March 4, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced that a senior al Qaeda operative, Mohsen Mansar al Salami, will face trial on terrorism-related charges. He was referred to trial by Sana’a municipality’s criminal prosecution team. The Yemeni Defense Ministry described him as a “dangerous terrorist leader” of al Qaeda. Al Salami is accused of assassinating Colonel Nasser Al Ma’amari of the political security forces in Baydah province as well as placing improvised explosive devices near Yemeni security facilities.
This comes amid a growing trend of attacks by terrorist groups in the country targeting Yemeni military personnel and installations. The latest attempt occurred on the same day that al Salami’s trial was announced, when the Yemeni media reported that General Qassem Laboza, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, survived an ambush by suspected al Qaeda fighters in the industrial port town of Balhaf in Shabwa province. The Yemeni commander was not harmed, but two soldiers were killed as a result of the attack, which took place near a gas complex in the city. AQAP is known to operate in Shabwa province and has been accused of multiple attacks on energy facilities by the Yemeni military. Most of Shabwa province was under AQAP control between May 2011 and May 2012.
In related news, Yemeni authorities in Aden today announced the arrest of a militant cell involved in assassination operations targeting officers in Yemen’s security and intelligence forces. A source in the Security Committee in Aden told the media that the members of the cell admitted to participating in the assassination of two Yemeni colonels at the beginning of January 2014, among other operations.
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