EXCLUSIVE: Head of Yemen fact-finding team explains JIAT’s probing process, stresses independence

Spokesman of the Arab coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) on Yemen, Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour, holds a press conference in the capital Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 03 September 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Head of Yemen fact-finding team explains JIAT’s probing process, stresses independence

  • Investigation began immediately after incident, media reports were three days after
  • JIAT is “impartial” and has held the coalition forces responsible for 16 of 85 incidents in Yemen

RIYADH: The spokesman for the Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen, Mansour Al-Mansour said he welcomed the acceptance by the leadership of the Arab Coalition Forces in Yemen of the results of investigations surrounding the the Aug. 9, 2018 bus attack that left dozens dead.

The JIAT report published on Saturday found that an order had been issued not to strike the bus after delays in arming a fighter jet, as there were civilians nearby, but it arrived late.

Responding to claims that investigations only happened in Yemen when the media picked up stories, Al-Mansour said the team started its enquiries into the bus attack immediately after the incident — he said the media’s coverage of the strike began three days later Al-Mansour said the investigation lasted “only three weeks” from when the incident happened to the publication of the findings on Sept. 1, when it was complete.

He said the investigating team was made up of military experts from the countries in the coalition, as well as international humanitarian law specialists adding that the team was headed by a civilian representative.

He said the bus attack was evaluated for its military procedures, before a legal assessment of the processes involved was carried out to ensure it complied with international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention.

He said the team was formed on the request of the coalition countries, and while those involved were from the countries involved, they were fully independent of the military operations in Yemen.

 

Coalition forces

There have been claims in the international media that JIAT favors the coalition forces, but Al-Mansour said the team held the coalition forces responsible for 16 of 85 incidents in Yemen, whether due to personal, technical or accidental error. He added that the team had held the coalition forces responsible for some incidents in Yemen that were under investigation.

He added that investigations into the October, 2016, Great Hall incident, where mourners at a funeral were killed, due to inaccurate information, was a good example of the team’s impartiality.

“There are legal regulations that bind us and oblige the coalition countries, especially since they are signatories to the Geneva Conventions and the humanitarian law system,” Al-Mansour said.

He said the team’s goal was to achieve justice without any other considerations. And he added: “The team is monitored by the international community.”

All information it announced, he said, was done so within “a clear legal framework.” Al-Mansour said: “After we issue our reports, the concerned agencies in the coalition forces must take their legal action and announce the results of these legal measures taken.

 

Report

The coalition forces always welcome the results of the investigations conducted by the team, and this is another evidence of the seriousness of the coalition forces in dealing with all incidents that are held responsible for them.”

He said the findings of the report were transparent and impartial. Al-Mansour said information gathered by International organizations, via telephone, email, and other means was also presented.

“As a team, we investigate these incidents, and we have sufficient experience in distinguishing between the reports that have already been monitored by the organizations or the reports they received by telephone or email.

They refer the allegations to us, and we investigate them and present the facts to the world with transparency.

“There may be some incidents which the coalition forces were not fully responsible for. We investigate whether the coalition forces were present in the area or not.”

He said they looked into whether coalition forces had operations in the same location where an incident was claimed, and if there were any forces in the area. “If it is proven that coalition forces were not present in this area, we announce that immediately.”

Al-Mansour said there was good cooperation with international organizations monitoring incidents on the ground in Yemen.

“We have meetings with them. They listen to us and we listen to them,” he said. “They provide us with a lot of information about incidents.”


US highlights Saudi Arabia’s key role in global fight against terrorism

Saudi Arabia has continued to maintain a strong anti-terrorism relationship with the US. (SPA)
Updated 20 September 2018
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US highlights Saudi Arabia’s key role in global fight against terrorism

  • The US State Department pointed out that the Kingdom has achieved a high level of accuracy in its counterterrorism operations

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has praised Saudi Arabia for its efforts to combat terrorism, describing the Kingdom as an active and key member in the global coalition to defeat Daesh.
“Saudi Arabia has continued to maintain a strong anti-terrorism relationship with the United States and has supported the strengthening of bilateral cooperation between the two countries,” the State Department noted in its annual report on the global state of terrorism. It also highlighted the joint strategic vision between the two countries and a number of new initiatives to counter terrorist messages and disrupt the financing of terrorism launched last year during US president Donald-Trump’s visit to the Kingdom.
The report said Saudi Arabia has implemented systems to follow UN Security Council sanctions on groups and individuals linked to Daesh and Al Qaeda, and has expanded existing counterterrorism programs and projects to rehabilitate terrorist fighters who leave extremist groups. It has also adopted laws to counter the financing of terrorist groups.
The State Department pointed out that the Kingdom has achieved a high level of accuracy in its counterterrorism operations, and has carried out a number of arrests and disrupted active terrorist cells throughout the country.
The report referred to terrorist plans that were thwarted in the Kingdom, noting the efforts being made in legislation, law enforcement and border security, as well as the country’s positive contribution as a member of the Financial Action Task Force for the Middle East and North Africa, a regional body that imposes financial sanctions on individuals and groups that help to fund terrorism.
"The Kingdom has maintained strict control over the banking sector and tightened sanctions on the financing of terrorism," the report said.
It also pointed out that the Kingdom provided 100 million euros ($117 million) to fight terrorism in the Sahel countries in Africa, as the Kingdom is a founding member of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum.