The Timing Indication of the Jailbreak by AQAP Members from Wadi Hadramout


Sat, 23-04-2022 12:36 AM, Aden Time

Abdullah Al-Shadli (South24)

In conjunction with sacking Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar and declaring a new presidential council in Yemen, 10 wanted elements including AQAP-affiliated suspects escaped from the high-security prison which belongs to the 1’st Military District in Wadi Hadramout. 

During the first hours after the jailbreak operation, officials didn’t confirm or deny the news in a step that has been apparently an attempt to keep silent about the incident. However, sources confirmed to “South24” the jailbreak reports. (1)

Although the escape method adopted by these elements has not been clear yet, western press sources said that a dispute broke out among prisoners before Iftar, and that when the guards intervened, the inmates were able to seize their weapons before the escape. Security officials told Associated Press (2) that the initial investigations reveal a kind of coordination between the inmates and the guards who cooperated with them in addition to other armed men outside the prison. 

A general note sent to the security units by the 1'st District Command in Wadi Hadramout includes the names of the fugitives. 

Speaking to “South24”, Brigadier General Hassan Al-Aidrous, Seiyun Security Manager denied that the jailbreak occurred in the Central Prison of the city. He added: “We published a statement to deny that. The parties which have promoted such news hold full responsibility”.

He pointed out that “the breakout operation happened in a prison affiliated with the 1’st Military District’s Command supervised by the Arab Coalition”. 

Following the incident, Hadramout Governor and the newly-formed Presidential Council Member Major General Faraj Al-Bahsani immediately went to the governorate. Upon arriving at the city of Seiyun, he stressed the need to expedite reaching the reasons behind the incident during a meeting with the 1’st Military District Command. 

In a statement, issued by the local media, Al-Bahsani said: “I will follow the developments of investigations and the results of the committees formed from the Defense Minister and the 1’st Military District Commander. I will form a third committee if they don’t reach quick results”.     

He stressed that he will discuss this issue during the Presidential Council meetings to assess it and take the necessary measures towards it in order to enhance security and stability across the districts in Wadi Hadramout and the desert adding that “the Presidential Council won’t allow the continuation of those security violations in Wadi Hadramout”. (3)

Escape or smuggling?

The jailbreak came in conjunction with the 7th anniversary of the liberation of Sahil Hadramout areas from the AQAP grip on April 24th, 2016 one year after their fall into the group’s hands. 

In a statement, the STC in Hadramout accused the Military District of being behind the escape. The STC’s local leadership dubbed the incident as “a play” adding that “it won’t deceive the Hadrami people ''.

The statement added: ‘The escape of these elements, who pose threats against Hadrami security and social peace, happened only after instructions by higher security commanders who secured their way for jailbreak”. 

The statement pointed out that “what happened proves the close relationships between AQAP and ISIS on the one hand and the military - security leaders of the 1'st Military District on the other hand”.

In This regard, the Head of the STC’s Seiyun office, Abdul Rahman Al-Jafri, told “South24”: “Everyone knows that the prison is fortified and enjoys high security, but the jailbreak is a mysterious one even if we suppose that the inmates were inside the detention”.

“I believe that their escape is very difficult. This should be investigated, especially since the prisoners are in the custody of the Arab Coalition” he added.

Al-Jafri believes that “the 1’st Military District is the reason behind many troubles, and is considered as a nightmare by Hadramout people who call for implementing the Riyadh Agreement, the moving the 1'st Military District towards the fronts adjacent to the Houthis and empowering the Hadrami elite to maintain security in Wadi Hadramout.

Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar 

Due to his historical relationships with the Islamic jihadists, and his being accused by Southern elite of having ties with the AQAP, the escape by the 10 prisoners from Wadi Hadramout is likely tied with deposing Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar from his Vice President position. 

In this regard, political analyst Anwar Al-Tamimi told "South24" that "the Hadrami collective awareness has been deeply convinced of the existence of ties between the AQAP and Al-Ahmar".

"This conclusion has been a result of General Al-Ahmar's acts since the 1980s and dispatching jihadists to Afghanistan and then moving many of them to fight the Southerners in 1994. He and some Muslim Brotherhood icons were behind assassinating Southern cadres in Sanaa and several areas in South Yemen".

Al-Tamimi accused Al-Ahmar of repeatedly using the AQAP to blackmail the region and the entire world if anyone approaches his privileges and influence". 

He indicated that "smuggling prisons affiliated with the AQAP from a fortified prison in Seiyun after deposing Al-Ahmar and following arrangement to move the 1'st Military District to fronts adjacent with the Houthis expose the scandalous and arranged escape operation which deliver a message that terrorism is the alternative option". 

Al-Tamimi expects that the severity of the terrorist operations will increase but it will gradually decrease after completing the transition to the new stage and stripping power from the old forces which have had ties with terrorism since its establishment".

In a Twitter poll, performed by "South24", 69% of a total of 2719 voters believe that there is a relationship between the escape of the AQAP element from Wadi Hadramout and sacking Al-Ahmar".

Similar incidents

This jailbreak is not a new phenomenon as it was preceded by other incidents in the oil-rich governorate. 

In June 2011, over 60 prisoners who belonged to the AQAP escaped from the Central Prison in Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout while being controlled by the governmental Northern forces.

Security sources told "South24" that this huge jailbreak was manufactured and being carried out with debunked collusion". The sources added that the Director of the Central Prison was replaced two weeks before the incident.

The sources noted a similarity between a 2011 incident and the last week one in Hadramout, accusing the 1'st Military District of playing the same role made by the forces controlling Sahil Hadramout at that time that were mostly from North Yemen.

"South24" tried to contact the 1'st Military District Command to confirm the claimed accusations but they avoided making any comments".


In conjunction with the Yemeni Presidential Council Declaration, the AQAP issued a statement in which the organization criticized the Council and pledged to fight it".

The statement, confirmed by terrorism experts, made accusations against the KSA and the UAE. It also advised the Muslim Brotherhood to learn from the lessons.(4)

At the beginning of March, armed men, believed to be AQAP members, kidnapped two foreign employees affiliated with "Doctors Without Borders" in Wadi Hadramout.

It is remarkable that the influence and the spread of the AQAP in Hadramout, especially in the coastal areas have been widely declined after liberating Al-Mukalla in 2016 from the terrorist organization through a military operation with the participation of the Hadrami Elite and the Arab Coalition which includes the UAE and the KSA.

Abdullah Al-Shadli
is a journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies

- Photo: Reuters

AQAPSOUTH YEMENMuslim BrotherhoodYemeni GovrenmentYemenAl-QaidaHadramout