Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

The Arab Spring's unfulfilled promises

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Deadly attack on U.N. base in northern Mali

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The Pope meets the Patriarch

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The Pope meets the Russian Patriarch

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump and Bern: outsiders win big in New Hampshire (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Recycle and spin: Hollande includes greens in new cabinet (part 2)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Paris: A nightlife in limbo?

Read more

REVISITED

Video: 40 years on, Franco's ghost still haunts Spain

Read more

#TECH 24

'Life as a cyborg' with Angel Giuffria

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

2016-02-12 Senegal

Video: Can love finally beat the caste system in Senegal?

In Senegal, genealogy is not to be taken lightly. A rigid social hierarchy sometimes thwarts blossoming romances. We bring you a 26-minute documentary on these "forbidden" loves.

Read more

2016-02-05 Ivory Coast

Video: Welcome aboard the West African Express

A colonial-era dream may become a reality. Bankrolled by French industrialist Vincent Bolloré, the €2.5 billion- and 3,000-kilometre-long rail network is set to cover five...

Read more

2016-01-29 Venezuela

Is Chavism on its way out in Venezuela?

Just three years after the death of iconic Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his successor Nicolas Maduro is floundering. Not only is the country mired in a crippling economic...

Read more

2016-01-22 Tajikistan

Tajikistan cracks down on beards and full veils

In Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan, authorities have declared war on radical Islam and are trying to root out potential terrorists in the country.

Read more

2016-01-14 South Africa

Environmental inequality persists in South Africa

In South Africa, inequalities remain despite the end of apartheid, including on the environmental front. The poorest populations live in the most polluted areas and things are...

Read more