1.11.10

The Golden Age of Yemen: Before Islam


The recent airline bomb incident by al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula reflects a disorganized and chaotic Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East according to the International Monetary Fund on gross domestic product. The unrest has proved to be a haven for al Qaeda extremists hoping to make a stronghold in Yemen after being forced to evacuate safe locations in Afghanistan and Pakistan after US drone attacks, but Yemen wasn't always in disarray.

For nearly one thousand years, Yemen was a major trade route hub that connected the worlds of the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. The term "Purveyors of the Commercial Revolution of the Near East" has been applied to the people of southern Arabia who traded materials and ideas from India to Somalia and up to the Fertile Crescent, modern day Iran and Iraq.

The people of Yemen were considered Semites who cherished business over cultural development. Their geographic isolation may have played a role in their lack of cultural advancement from Hellenic (Greek) ideas, and wealth building may have been their only means to survive for so long. The Semitic people of Yemen may not have given civilization works of art, but they gave the future Arabs a sense of civilization by uniting and liberating its "Semitic homeland or ethnic pool" character.

By the 5th century, the people of Yemen began moving northward. No one is quite sure why they uprooted themselves. Some historians claim that the irrigation system collapsed, but their move began a northward expansion, settling and urbanizing northern Arabia. The people of Yemen are credited with providing the impetus that improved the fortunes and development of the Arab nation. Their ability to transport goods created a highway to share and expand political and economic ideas much like the Spanish explorers of the second millenia. However, when Islam sprouted in the seventh century, the great people of Yemen were forever transformed.

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Known Terrorist Groups

Al-Qaida has cooperated with a number of known terrorist groups worldwide including:

  • Armed Islamic Group
  • Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group
  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt)
  • Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya
  • Jamaat Islamiyya
  • The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
  • Bayt al-Imam (Jordan)
  • Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir)
  • Asbat al Ansar
  • Hezbollah (Lebanon)
  • Al-Badar
  • Harakat ul Ansar/Mujahadeen
  • Al-Hadith
  • Harakat ul Jihad
  • Jaish Mohammed - JEM
  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
  • Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan
  • Laskar e-Toiba - LET
  • Moro Islamic Liberation Front (the Philippines)
  • Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines)
  • Al-Ittihad Al Islamiya - AIAI (Somalia)
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
  • Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen)
  • Armed Islamic Group
  • Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group
  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt)
  • Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya
  • Jamaat Islamiyya
  • The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
  • Bayt al-Imam (Jordan)
  • Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir)
  • Asbat al Ansar
  • Hezbollah (Lebanon)
  • Al-Badar
  • Harakat ul Ansar/Mujahadeen
  • Al-Hadith
  • Harakat ul Jihad
  • Jaish Mohammed - JEM
  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
  • Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan
  • Laskar e-Toiba - LET
  • Moro Islamic Liberation Front (the Philippines)
  • Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines)
  • Al-Ittihad Al Islamiya - AIAI (Somalia)
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
  • Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen)
  • Jihad and the Internet

    Let’s not fool ourselves. Whatever threat the real Afghanistan poses to U.S. national security, the “Virtual Afghanistan” now poses just as big a threat. The Virtual Afghanistan is the network of hundreds of jihadist Web sites that inspire, train, educate and recruit young Muslims to engage in jihad against America and the West. Whatever surge we do in the real Afghanistan has no chance of being a self-sustaining success, unless there is a parallel surge — by Arab and Muslim political and religious leaders — against those who promote violent jihadism on the ground in Muslim lands and online in the Virtual Afghanistan.

    Thomas L. Friedman
    New York Times
    15 Dec 2009

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