Yemen’s Al-Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad: KSA

Smoke and fire billow during a controlled explosion by Yemeni experts to destroy explosives and mines laid by Houthi rebels in the southern city of Aden. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2017
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Yemen’s Al-Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad: KSA

PARIS: Al Qaeda’s Yemeni arm is losing its ability to export militancy overseas after sustained military pressure on its operations, and Daesh and Shiite militants are instead Riyadh’s main internal concern, Saudi Arabian officials said on Wednesday.
The US and Britain on Tuesday announced new restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.
The Saudi Interior Ministry’s chief security spokesman Mansour Al-Turki told reporters in Paris that he had no specific information on what prompted the new curbs — which also affect Saudi Arabian Airlines — but he suggested there may be a link to Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
“The US has said they raided Al-Qaeda people in Yemen and they were able to gather some information, but I don’t know whether they found something linked to this,” he said.
Asked whether they believed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had the capacity to project operations overseas with innovative bomb designs, including embedding them inside computers, however, the officials said the group had been severely constrained by fighting on multiple fronts.
“They don’t have the power to export their activities,” said Abdullah Al-Shehri, a senior counter-terrorism official from the Interior Ministry.
“It is fighting Islamic State (Daesh), which is trying to take its place. It is not getting new fighters and after the (Saudi-led) Desert Storm operation it is also fighting the legitimate government and the Houthi (rebels),” he said.
AQAP has in the past plotted to down US airliners and claimed responsibility for the 2015 attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. It also has boasted of having one of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri. The US estimates it has 2,000 to 3,000 fighters.
Al-Turki said Riyadh considered the threat of an attack from Daesh on its soil to be greater given that some 3,500 Saudis had traveled to join the group in Syria and Iraq. Of those, 1,500 remain in the conflict zone with the rest killed.
“(Al-) Qaeda actually has not been involved in any real kind of terrorism-related incident in Saudi Arabia for three years,” he said. “Most of the incidents came from Daesh or militant groups related to Shiites in the eastern province.”
Al-Turki is leading a delegation of Interior Ministry and counter-terrorism officials in Paris to discuss wider cooperation between the two allies.
The talks have also focused on ways to prevent attacks including with a new digital system implemented in the Kingdom to identify potential lone wolf militants radicalized on social media.


Tunisia OKs law to fight widespread corruption

Tunisian prime minister Youssef Chahed. (AFP)
Updated 19 July 2018
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Tunisia OKs law to fight widespread corruption

  • Tunisia’s anti-corruption committee says graft is still widespread and threatens Tunisia with billions of dollars a year in losses
  • The penalties for illicit enrichment include fines and five years’ imprisonment

TUNIS: The Tunisian Parliament on Tuesday approved a law to combat illicit enrichment, a step designed to strengthen the government’s fight against widespread corruption in the country.
Since the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has been held up by Western partners as a model of democracy for the region. Economic progress has lagged, however, and corruption remains a major problem in the North African state.
The law will force the president, ministers, senior officials in the public sector, independent bodies, banks, judges, security forces, journalists and unions to declare their property.
“The law is a revolution because it will allow the national group to scrutinize the unknown wealth that has been acquired illegally,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said.
The parliamentary speaker, Mohamed Naceur, said the law “is another step in efforts to fight corruption, ensure transparency and preserve public money.”
The penalties for illicit enrichment include fines and five years’ imprisonment.
Last year, the government confiscated the property and froze bank accounts of about 20 prominent businessmen arrested on suspicion of corruption in an unprecedented government campaign against graft.
Chafik Jaraya, who maintains political contacts in Tunisia and Libya and helped finance the Nidaa Tounes ruling party during the last elections in 2014, was among those arrested last year.
He is in jail awaiting trial. His lawyer has said the charges are politically motivated.
Tunisia’s anti-corruption committee says graft is still widespread and threatens Tunisia with billions of dollars a year in losses.
It added that corruption had spread in all sectors including security, public tenders and health.