Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

What's the deal with oil? Saudi Arabia's about-face on OPEC (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

What's the deal with oil? Saudi Arabia's about-face on OPEC (part 1)

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Amnesty accuses Sudan of chemical attacks on civilians

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Nations vote to end all trade of endangered pangolins

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump accuses Google of 'suppressing bad news about Clinton'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Dublin courts post-Brexit business

Read more

FOCUS

Afghanistan's national unity government faces political deadlock

Read more

REPORTERS

World War I: When northern France was on German time

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Mixed reactions to historic Colombia peace deal

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-04-23

EXCLUSIVE - YEMEN: Meeting the fighters of Ansar al-Sharia

In the south of Yemen, the town of Jaar is now under Sharia law. Our reporters travelled undercover to Jaar, which is controlled by the fighters of Ansar al-Sharia ("The Partisans of Sharia"), an al Qaeda affiliate.

After long negotiations involving several intermediaries, we are finally given the green light to meet Ansar al-Sharia (the “Partisans of Sharia") in the Arabian Peninsula.

Along with our contact, a young Yemeni named Wajdi, we take a minibus at 7 am to the city of Jaar, renamed Waqar by Ansar al-Sharia. It is located in the province of Abyan, in the south of Yemen.

My female colleague Tatiana has to wear the niqab so as not to attract the attention of the Yemeni soldiers, but also because Ansar al-Sharia demands it. With them, women must be covered from head to foot. We pretend we are married journalists.

The journey lasts three hours. At each army checkpoint, I hide behind a newspaper to avoid being spotted. Foreigners are not allowed to enter this region, and journalists even less so.

On arrival, we meet Fouad, who has a Kalashnikov slung across his shoulders. He is in charge of press relations for Ansar al-Sharia. The 25-year-old welcomes us with a big smile and invites us to lunch. The menu is meat, rice and fizzy drinks.

During our stay, Fouad watches us like a hawk. He mainly tells us about his group’s ideology and their plan to establish Sharia law in the whole of Yemen.

We are not allowed to interview the fighters of Ansar al-Sharia on camera. It is difficult even to film them: each time, security concerns are given. Most of the footage we manage to get of these fighters is filmed undercover.

We are not allowed to meet Abu Hamza, the head of Ansar al-Sharia, again due to security concerns.

After much negotiating, we get the green light to approach the 73 Yemeni soldiers being held hostage by Ansar al-Sharia. But there is one condition: I have to go without my colleague, supposedly because the hostages do not want to see any women. But while being searched, I realise the real reason: there is not a woman in sight. Under Sharia law, men are not allowed to search women.

The location the soldiers are being held is kept secret. I am blindfolded and get into a pick-up truck. We drive for half an hour, and I believe the location is not far from the city. We return the same evening.

We had agreed with Fouad to stay in Ansar al-Sharia’s stronghold for three days. But in the end, we were asked to leave earlier than planned. “Things are going to happen’, he warns us.

The day after we leave, the army checkpoint, which acts as a buffer between the fighters of Ansar al-Sharia and the town, is attacked. 15 people are killed. If we had stayed, it would have been much more difficult to leave.

By Tatiana MASAAD , Noreddine BEZZIOU

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-06-23 World War I

World War I: When northern France was on German time

During World War I, 13 of France's regional departments were under German occupation. For four years, two million French citizens took their orders from Berlin. No more coal for...

Read more

2016-09-23 Burma

Video: In Burma, ex-political prisoners struggle to return to normal life

During a half-century of dictatorship, nearly 10,000 Burmese citizens were imprisoned for their political views. Almost all of these political prisoners suffered physical and...

Read more

2016-09-15 football

Video: African football players dream of kickstarting career in Asia

Southeast Asia is awash with football fever. New leagues and new teams are springing up everywhere - even in countries where the sport was until recently a minority pastime. To...

Read more

2016-09-08 Niger

Video: Niger’s Agadez, gateway to exile

Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, has become one of the main transit points for illegal migrants from West Africa who dream of Europe. We bring you an exceptional...

Read more

2016-09-02 India

Video: In Indian Ocean, Jarawa tribe risks dying out

For their own protection, you are not allowed to meet them. For tens of thousands of years, the Jarawa have been self-sufficient hunter-gatherers, living in harmony with nature...

Read more