Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tunisia's Tataouine region remains tense after violent protests

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Uncertainty hangs over G7 summit as Trump wraps up foreign trip

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Ivory Coast: Three dead in clashes between police and ex-rebels in Bouaké

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Oil tumbles on disappointment over OPEC output cut

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Trump's handshake battle with Macron goes viral

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Nicole Kidman, Queen of the festival

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Abdelmadjid Tebboune named new Algerian prime minister

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump's Handshake Showdown

Read more

THE DEBATE

Trump at NATO: What future for the Atlantic Alliance? (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

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

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

2017-05-18 Asia-pacific

Video: India's battle against 'superbugs'

It’s the gravest healthcare threat facing humanity. The World Health Organization has estimated that antibiotic resistance, or ‘superbugs’ as these bacteria have come to be...

Read more

2017-05-12 Middle East

How natural gas could be a geopolitical game-changer in the Mideast

It's a discovery that could easily shake up the geopolitical order in the Middle East. Deep under the eastern Mediterranean lies the largest natural gas basin ever found on...

Read more

2017-05-04 Asia-pacific

Forced into exile: The plight of the Rohingyas

There are more than 1.3 million Rohingya people in the world. Although they have lived in Burma for more than two centuries, this Muslim minority is not among those officially...

Read more

2017-04-28 Spain

The booming business of cannabis in Spain

In Spain, thanks to the success of the "clubs" that have cropped up since 2011, cannabis has become a gold mine. From by-products such as cannabis lollipops and drinks, to...

Read more

2017-04-21 France

Battle to stop nuclear waste being buried in a French village

The village of Bure, in eastern France, has become a battleground for environmentalists. It has been chosen as a site to bury radioactive waste, 500 metres underground. An...

Read more