Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
More news coming out of Yemen about the bomber's id. Faysal Mukrim in al-Hayat, reports what News Yemen had yesterday, although his math is off by about a decade.
But Reuters has a different name, and a different story. The story identifies the attacker as Abd al-Rahman Mahdi al-Aajbari from Taizz. It will probably take a while for the details of the story to sort themselves out, but the broad outlines of the story seem to be clear.
The young man was wearing a suicide belt and blew himself up among a group of tourists. Apparently, other tourists had been through the same site earlier in the day and the man posed for pictures with them, but deemed them to few to attack. It wasn't until a large group, the South Koreans, came that he blew himself up. Or at least those are the broad strokes of the story as I understand it.
The fact that the bomber passed on smaller groups of tourists takes away one particular explanation that the government has used in the past. Namely, that he was crazy. Well, obviously, something was a bit off for him to blow himself up, but the fact that he distinguished between different targets, I think, argues that he was capable of decision making.
Also, the fact that he wore a suicide vest, and carried out his attack on foot is a new, and to my mind, worrying development in Yemen. Tactics from other theaters of operations are now making there way to Yemen, which should be a cause of concern for all who watch Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.
Finally, if the Reuters story is correct and he went to Somalia, then to me there are two possibilities. First, the government may argue that he was radicalized in Somalia, and that this isn't a homegrown problem. This rationale has been used before to little impact. Second, it would further support what I have been saying for months, which is that al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen are looking to move back and forth between Somalia.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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