Al-Qaeda bans qat, assumes policing role in southern Yemen

Published May 15th, 2015 - 04:48 GMT

Tribesmen associated with Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) outlawed qat, a mild narcotic, in the southern port city of Mukalla, the capital of Yemen's Hadramawt province, according to Middle East Eye.

The group of tribesmen, known as "Sons of Hadramawt," distributed flyers to inform the city's population of the ban.

The group stated, “those who violate this ruling must bear the full responsibility under Islamic law.”

Members of the AQAP affiliate group Ansar al-Sharia publically burned mounds of the plant. A local sheikh posted pictures on Twitter of militants stopping trucks filled qat and forbidding their entry into Mukalla. The same sheikh condemned the Yemeni capital of Sanaa for sending qat to Hadramawt and corrupting the province's youth. 

The addictive plant is widely popular among the Yemeni population and is chewed throughout the country around midday. Much of Yemen's scarce agricultural land and water supply is devoted to qat production, and many families in the impoverished nation report spending over half their income on the narcotic.

The ban is expected to incite anger and resistance, particularly if the militants continue to chew the plant themselves.

AQAP took control of Hadramawt, the largest province in Yemen, in April. The militants have since faced opposition from local residents.

The ban demonstrates the AQAP affiliate group's ability to impose and enforce law in the region as Yemen faces a vacuum of political power and security. 


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