1. Supporters of Shariah: "Yemen communique No. 1" (11 October 1998)
2. Supporters of Shariah: "Yemen hostage communique No. 1" (30 December 1998)
3. Supporters of Shariah press release (20 January 1999)
4. Supporters of Shariah: extracts from newsletter (1998-1999)
Supporters of Shariah: press release
Abu Hamza al-Masri, "head of religious and political affairs" for Supporters of Shariah (SOS) called for the overthrow of the Yemeni government at a press conference in London on 20 January 1999.
The London-based imam has already been linked to the kidnappers of 16 western tourists in Yemen and to the alleged bomb plot in Aden last month.
His January 20 statement provided the most overt indication yet that SOS activities in Yemen are intended to destabilise the country with a view to an Islamist takeover. It supports what Yemeni officials and some foreign security agencies have been suggesting for several days: that Abu Hamza is merely the front-man for a much bigger plot by a hitherto unidentified sponsor.
Investigations into the Aden "bomb plot" have also begun to cast doubt on the Islamist credentials of some of the accused. There have been several allegations of links to separatists who fought in the Yemeni war of 1994.
Abu Hamza's threats to foreigners in Yemen are not only damaging to tourism but, as the January 20 statement shows, targetted against the country's economic and military links with the west.
His press statement is quoted below in full:
Supporters of Shariah - press release
1. The Supporters of Sharia, SOS, are a legitimate internationally recognised organisation that has the right to publish and promote its opinions.
2. SOS has been formed to highlight what Islamic law says about international world events which directly affect Muslims. We are an important voice piece to highlight the gross violations, torture and oppressions by various secular regimes against the popular Islamic organisations and peoples in those countries.
3. SOS is not a vehicle for military action, but is a pressure group to encourage oppressed Muslims to speak out and oppose oppressive regimes.
4. Specifically in regard to Yemen SOS holds the Yemeni government responsible for acts of terrorism, violence and miscarriages of justice against its own people as well as British nationals. These oppressive acts have not only been documented by SOS, but are known and well publicised independently by Amnesty International’s own report.
5. The recent events in Yemen of hostage taking axe direct protests by the Yemeni people against the severe oppression the Yemeni government is forcing on its own people and a direct protest against the American and British use of Port Aden as a refuelling base to launch the second phase of the attack on the Iraqi people (see "The Times" foreign news report, Jan. 6th 1999: ‘Terror in Yemen imperils port deal’.)
6. SOS demands the following:
(a) The immediate release of innocent detainees from all nationalities held illegally, often under torture in their conce ntration camps.
(b) The immediate withdrawal of All-American a nd British intelligence sources, who represent a serious provocation on the local Yemeni people.
(c) SOS demands all Muslim groups to rise and join bands to free the Yemeni people from the oppression of the Yemeni government and its agents and we believe that only a return to the principles of Islamic law will see a return to justice and peace in the Islamic lands, internally and externally.
Sheikh Abu Hamza al Misary
Head of religious and political affairs