UAE’s death belts trending on Twitter
The Twitter hashtag the death belts of the UAE (#احزمه_الموت_الاماراتيه) has been trending widely in the Gulf to denounce UAE crimes in Yemen.
Over the past four years, Yemen’s temporary capital, Aden, has been associated with death and secret prisons where many forms of torture are practiced.
Between 2015 and 2019 there were more than 100 assassinations in southern Yemen, according to UN reports. Thousands of Yemenis have also been arrested and forcibly disappeared in secret prisons run by UAE militias and foreign mercenaries.
An investigation broadcast by Al Jazeera satellite television “Belts of Death” revealed details of the files of assassinations and secret prisons in Aden, Yemen, through investigation records and exclusive testimonies.
Elizabeth Kendall, a Yemeni researcher at the University of Oxford, said most of the assassinations or attempted assassinations in Aden were carried out by people driving motorcycles, while others were carried out with roadside bombs.
According to Kendall, these operations have not been properly investigated by the security forces, and no gunmen have been brought to justice, and reports have always referred to them as unidentified gunmen.
Despite the attempts to bury the truth and systematic work to remove the traces behind the perpetrators, the investigation was able to obtain exclusively the records of security investigations – published for the first time – conducted by the criminal investigation in Aden with a group of those accused of carrying out assassinations.
The leaked transcripts are 87 pages long and include testimonies from four defendants involved in the assassinations. The full names of the four defendants and their co-defendants are detailed.
Investigative reports confirmed that the first official in charge of the assassination gang in Aden was working with the Emiratis, specifically with an Emirati officer called Abu Khalifa.
The records also document the statements of the defendants in the names of the persons involved and the roles of the perpetrators, in addition to the bodies that finance and direct them, especially the security belt and the UAE intelligence services.
But the most serious report in the investigation obtained by Al Jazeera, that al-Qaeda carried out assassinations under the guidance of Emirati officers.
The confessions coincide with a report by a panel of eminent experts from the UN Human Rights Council, which stressed that despite the different political and intellectual backgrounds of the victims of the assassinations, what unites them is their influence in society and their public criticism of the UAE and its militias.
It did not stop recruiting local agents to the UAE in Yemen, as it was 20 days since the liberation of Aden from the Houthis until talk of hiring foreign mercenaries to carry out assassinations for the UAE.
A copy of a contract for the US company Spear Operation was published, under which it received $1.5 million, in addition to bonuses on the successful execution of any operation.
The group’s first operation was to target Aden al-Islah, a leading member of the Islah party, but failed to assassinate him.
The role of foreign mercenaries was not limited to assassinations. The UAE used them to interrogate and torture prisoners in its secret prisons.
In addition to the assassination file, the investigation of “death belts” touched on what is happening inside the secret prisons of the UAE in Yemen, where detainees are subjected to various forms of psychological and physical torture.
The commander of the southern resistance and former detainee Adel al-Hassani said he was personally tortured brutally in a number of prisons run by the UAE in Yemen.
He said the UAE oversees all secret prisons, some run by Yemeni soldiers, while others are run by US and Colombian mercenaries. These prisons are not supervised by the prosecution or the Ministry of Interior.
Marwan Latif, a former Swedish detainee in UAE prisons in Aden, said, “Emirati officers arrested me, then took me to a military base. There, I was subjected to the most horrible torture, my nose was broken, they hung me in the ceiling, burned me and blew my eyes. After the prison experience no longer tastes life, I lost the sense of happiness.”
Latif recounted how three Emirati officers he said were named Hitler, whose real name was Ali Matar, Sultan Fairuz, nicknamed Fairuz, and Ali Harith, nicknamed Abu Ali, who refused to confess and then put his body in a garbage bag.
He also revealed that some detainees were transferred to a military prison in the Eritrean city of Assab, including businessman Awad Habib and his son Kassam.