Yemen, Arabian Peninsula
Political Leader: President Ali Abdallah Salih
Religions: Islam 99.9%, Christianity 0.1%
Persecution Ranking: 6
Number of Terrorist Groups: 6
Acts of Terrorism: 127; Casualties: 121
Percent of Corruption: 74%
% of People in Poverty: 45.2%
Yemen, officially the Republic of Yemen, is a Middle Eastern country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. Yemen is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to the south, and Oman to the east. Yemen’s territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 260 miles to the south of Yemen, off the coast of Somalia.
Yemen’s 2007 counterterrorism record was mixed. The Republic of Yemen took action against Al Qaeda and local extremists, arresting and killing several individuals suspected of having Al Qaeda ties, and prosecuted the perpetrators of previous terrorist acts, according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2007. However, significant setbacks included the June 22 announcement that Abu Basir Nasir al-Wahishi was the new head of Al Qaeda in Yemen (AQY), and the July 2 terrorist attack in Marib that killed 10 people. Despite United States pressure, Yemen continued to implement a surrender program with lenient requirements for terrorists it could not apprehend, which often led to their relatively lax incarceration. Yemen also released all returned Guantanamo detainees after short periods of assessment and rehabilitation, into a government monitoring program that lacked strict monitoring measures. U.S.S. Cole bomber Jamal al-Badawi’s continued incarceration remained uncertain at the end of 2007.
Despite Yemen’s history of terrorist activity and repeated offers of assistance from the U.S., Yemen lacked a comprehensive counterterrorism law. Current law as applied to counterterrorism was weak. In October, the government established a working group on drafting a comprehensive counterterrorism law. The Yemeni justice system was also ineffective. The courts did not set dates for the trials of suspects involved in the two September 2006 AQY-orchestrated attacks on oil facilities in eastern Yemen. Yemeni security forces continued to arrest and try suspected members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups throughout the year.
Suspected militants armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and at least one suicide car bomb assaulted the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital on September 17, 2008. The coordinated attack killed 16 people, including six assailants, the Associated Press reported. The dead included six attackers, six Yemeni guards and four civilians. It was the deadliest attack on a compound that has been targeted four times in recent years by bombings, mortars and shootings. Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, has struggled to put down Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants, often to the frustration of U.S. counterterrorism officials.
Yemen is overwhelmingly Muslim (99.9%), while Christian comprise only 0.1% of the population. Followers of religious groups other than Islam are free to worship according
to their beliefs, but the government prohibits conversion from Islam and the proselytization of Muslims.
Challenges for Christians:
Yemen is ranked No. 6 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2008 World Watch List. Islam is the official religion and the law is based on strict Islamic Shari’a law.
- Pray for Yemen to be more consistent and proactive in putting down Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants and local extremists. Pray for the government to have the resources to stem terrorism financing.
- Pray that the demonic forces that are using Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups like puppets will be toppled, and that the people will be set free to worship the Lord. Pray that their leaders will experience conversion to Christianity. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
- Pray for strict Islamic Shari’a law to be replaced by freedom of religion for all.
- It is illegal for Muslims to become Christians, but amazingly around 100 Yemenis have given their lives to Jesus and face extreme danger and isolation from their families. Pray that there would be opportunities and greater freedom for them to meet together and share their faith with families and friends.
- Yemen is one of the least evangelized countries in the world. Pray that the Gospel can spread and be heard by everyone.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors Country Reports on Terrorism 2007