Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Tuesday identified a series of gross human rights abuses [press release] committed by al Qaeda affiliates and Yemen's government forces during the 2011–2012 conflict over control of the country's southern region of Abyan. In its detailed report "Conflict in Yemen: Abyan's Darkest Hour" [text, PDF], AI explained that the violence initiated by al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia as well as the government response to that violence constituted violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). According to the report:
After Ansar al-Shari'a took control of large parts of the governorate of Abyan—and later expanded to cities in the governorates of Shabwa and al-Bayda—it ruled with an iron fist and was responsible for a wide set of human rights abuses. These included imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments on alleged criminals, enforcing through threats and intimidation repressive social or religious norms, and detaining and harassing community activists. It also committed crime to finance its operations and imposed restrictions on the operations of schools and hospitals.AI also criticized the Yemeni government for attacking residential areas, obstructing medical care and directing "enforced disappearances" during the conflict. AI urged the Yemeni government to ensure that conduct an impartial investigation and prosecute individuals on both sides who have violated international law. The group also urged the government to give clear instructions to military personnel regarding international humanitarian law and the treatment of prisoners.
Al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] has many active supporters and sub-groups throughout the world. Recently, four men in Califoria were charged with terrorism-related offenses [JURIST report] and for attempting to join al Qaeda. Last October, Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile] pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to 11 criminal charges, including providing material support to terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. Outside of the US, there have been attempts to bring justice to groups who aid and abet al Qaeda. Earlier in October, an Iraq court sentenced a US citizen to life in prison [JURIST report] for financing terrorist attacks by al Qaeda. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official site] has also drawn international attention to Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, recruiting child soldiers in Mali.