SANAA, Yemen – Al-Qaida committed “horrific” rights abuses during its 16 months in power in southern Yemen, Amnesty International charged in a report released today, documenting the beheading of an alleged sorceress, crucifixion of a man accused of spying and amputation of a man’s hand for stealing.
The rights abuses occurred between February 2011 and June 2012, when al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s affiliate Ansar al-Shariah took over parts of southern Yemen, resulting in “a human rights catastrophe,” according to the rights group.
The report also accuses Yemen’s government of abuses.
“We believe that horrific human rights abuses took place and violations of international humanitarian law by both sides,” according to the author of the report, Celina Nasser.
Al-Qaida’s takeover of large swaths of territory in southern Yemen was the first time the group has governed entire cities.
The report, titled “Conflict in Yemen: Abyan’s Darkest Hour,” documents some of the violations during the conflict between Yemeni government forces and Ansar al-Shariah. It also sheds light on how al-Qaida militants ran government affairs.
Al-Qaida militants seized Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province on the Arabian Sea coast, while Yemen was mired in the turmoil of a popular uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The militants also took control of several nearby towns.
Al-Qaida set up committees to rule southern Yemen. Their rulings and punishments were documented in videos released by al-Qaida in Yemen’s media arm. Amnesty compiled some in a video released with the report.
Around a quarter-million people were displaced due to the conflict.