1999: Zein al-Abidine al-Mihdar, Yemeni terrorist

On this date in 1999, Yemen executed (in its own inimitable style) terrorist Zein al-Abidine al-Mihdar, for orchestrating a kidnapping of western tourists.

A Xerox executive among the party of kidnapped tourists relates her post-captivity search to understand her ordeal.

The drama had unfolded in December of 1998, when a convoy of 16 (mostly British) foreign tourists spending the traditional Christmas in Yemen was seized by the Islamic terrorist group Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan.

The very next day, a massive Yemeni army raid busted up the kidnappers and freed the hostages — all, except for the four who were killed in the affray.

Tried for the kidnapping (a capital crime itself) and those resulting deaths — although some victims slated the army and its aggressive response for those lost souls — three men were condemned death.

“The only dialogue,” al-Mihdar told his judges, “should be with bullets.” And so for him, a bullet had the last word. (The other two condemned men drew commutations.)


Al-Mihdar’s followers promised revenge were he executed. Given that the Islamic Army of Aden claimed responsibility for the 2000 bombing of the American warship USS Cole while it refueled at Aden — Khalid Almihdhar, one of the 9/11 hijackers allegedly affiliated with the IAA, participated — it might well have done just that. (However, the IAA as a distinct terrorist entity petered out in the 2000s.)

By the by, the U.S. is basically at war in Yemen now. Better still: that tribal country is also a proving-grounds for brave new assertions of heretofore undiscovered American presidential prerogatives, like the right to assassinate other Americans.

2 thoughts on “1999: Zein al-Abidine al-Mihdar, Yemeni terrorist”

  1. You are so right, Meaghan! I have a friend whose Yemeni father kidnapped her and her brother and his second wife was so cruel to them. Sharron (refuses to be called her her real name, Scheherazade as her Dad chose it!) told me all about it and she kept saying to her little brother, “Mum’ll come and get us” – and she did and bitch-slapped the stepmother for good measure!

  2. Earlier this year I read a book about a ten-year-old Yemeni girl named Nujood Ali who got fifteen minutes of international fame by demanding, and getting, a divorce. Yemen seems like a terrible country. Hopelessly backward, brutal and poor. Nujood’s father had to marry her off because he had like 18 children (seriously) and no job.

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