A True Martyr: He Died Trying to Save Other Lives!

Another Victim

Another Victim

Another Dead Victim

Another Dead Victim

A Victim of the Massacre

A Victim of the Massacre

Mustafa M. Abu Talib Pharmacist/Trained Nurse

Mustafa M. Abu Talib
Pharmacist/Trained Nurse

By: Hassan Al-Haifi

Mustafa Mohammed Abu Talib:  He Lost His Life Because He Was Saving Lives

By:  Hassan Al-Haifi

The National Security Massacre in the Northeast area of Old Sana’a (Sho’ub), of June 9 and 10 was no ordinary massacre in the sense that such massacres should ever be accorded an “ordinary” calling.  Was it a bloody one?  Certainly, the bloody carnage at the vicinity of the National Security Organ Headquarters[1] in Sana’a, by any standards related to keeping the peace of the land and maintaining law and order, was sadistically bloody.  Thirteen young lads, most of whom are in their late teens or early twenties, were tragically fated to be entered in the roster of hundreds of Yemeni youth, who have peacefully sought real concrete changes in the way affairs of state are conducted in Yemen.  These thirteen lads mercilessly fell to the murderous gun fire and deadly ordnances of the Yemeni National Security Organ, now under the aegis of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah) Party.

The various security (police), Special Forces, Central Security, Republican Guards, and even the First Armored Brigade[2] (whose former Commander insistently cloaks as a “leading component” of the Peaceful Youth Revolution of Yemen), National Security, Political Security and paramilitary and informal security apparatus have been known to be unhesitant at unleashing their deadly fire against a multitude of protesters over the Ali Abdullah Saleh regime’s tumultuous period.   The Saleh era of over a third of a century was characterized by an almost ongoing series of violent showdowns with various opposing factions.

The bloody sadistic cravings of trigger happy military and security personnel of the Saleh regime, with a mandate to shoot to kill any persons involved in any display of protest against the regime reached international attention in 2011.  In February 25, 2011 the peaceful protests against Saleh and his family/clan mob commenced.  The reaction of the Saleh regime’s forces against unarmed young protesters, who were fed up with all the maladies of governance instilled by the Saleh regime –largely under the control of his kin and relatives – was bloody and merciless.  The international  community hurriedly imposed an agreement between the different formally recognized political factions in Yemen.  The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Initiative was supposedly engineered by the despotic rulers of the GCC.  Needless to say. the GCC members, especially the dominating oil giant Saudi Arabia, of course had no desire to see any foreboding Arab Spring symptoms of rebellion and insurrections in their neighborhood spill over to their fragile but wealthy domains.  The resulting so called peaceful transfer of authority (and presumably of power) mapped out by the GCC centered mainly on personnel changes. This game of musical chairs fell far short of the genuine regime change sought by the overwhelming majority of the peaceful youth protesters and the millions of Yemenis from all walks of life, who amassed weekly in support of the protests in all the Change and Freedom Squares of the major cities of Yemen.  This was supposed to come out of the currently ongoing meetings of the National Dialogue Committee.  The formal opposition forces (formal opposition parties including the Islah, “defecting military brass”, defecting tribal leaders, especially the Al-Ahmar Sheikhs of the Hashid Tribal Confederation, etc. were goaded to accept this “power sharing” formula, in which the General People’s Congress (GPC – Saleh’s political machine) and the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah – promoting a religious inclination with strong Wahhabi influence and financial backing from Saudi Arabia as well as the Yemeni Government during Saleh’s reign – for the most part of the Saleh Era, the Islah was a strong ally of Saleh) took the lion’s share of the Government portfolios and power centers, with some significant gains by the Islah (Interior, Finance, Justice, National Security and other military and security organs.  The other formal opposition parties were given token ministerial portfolios, whereas the other formidable components of the revolt (including the Southern Movement and the considerably weighty independent youth, with their large elements of highly educated and politically versant sub-groups (most of whom were hastily organized, but who nevertheless played important and effective roles in communicating the peaceful revolt to the outside world).  Last among these revolutionary components was Ansar Allah (AA) or the Houthis, as they are popularly named after their founder, the late Hussein Badr Eldein Al-Houthi, who was killed in the first War on Sa’ada in September 2004.  AA are currently led by Hussein’s younger and charismatic brother Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, who has successfully guided the Houthis to surviving the five efforts of the Government to suppress them.  The Saleh Regime launched six unsuccessful attempts to subdue the Houthis with considerable funding, moral support and eventual direct participation of the Saudis.   The Houthis had thus a become a formidable political force carrying the banner of resistance against the persistent efforts of Wahhabi domination of religious dogma and eventual political control of Yemen.  The general Wahhabi view (in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen within the Islah, as well as that held by other Wahhabi/Salafi denominations, including Al-Qaeda, Ansar Al-Sharia’a, etc) is that the Zeidis are “heretics” and lob them with other Shiites as “non-believers”[3]).  The Houthis continue to call for the realization of the 20 “Revolutionary Demands” and the establishment of a genuine civil government that is free from the continuing influence if not control of most of the components of the Saleh regime, especially the critical military and sovereign components. Many of these demands coincide with those of formal (non GPC  and informal opposition forces within and outside the current Conciliation Government.   The Houthis deny ever seeking a return to the Imamate, which they are continuously accused of by the Saleh Regime and the Islah wing of the Conciliation Government.  The Islah also accuse the Houthis of being allied with Hizb Allah of Lebanon and Iran.  The Houthis are not followers of the Ja’afari or Twelve Imam Shiites of Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

The Showdown Between the Houthis and NS

More to the point AA also demand the implementation of promises laid out in the truces that stopped the intermittent fighting with Government forces since 2004.  Their demands include also release of some prisoners still held by the Government, including some held by the National Security Organ.  Accordingly certain members of the group joined with some other youth to march on the National Security Organ on June 9, 2013 in a peaceful non-violent protest and to try to put up protest tests by the NS headquarters until their demands are met.  They also call for the elimination of the NS altogether, as it is not serving any meaningful national security needs, but rather was set up to serve the interests of foreign powers in the latter’s so called War on Terror.  Whatever the case, the marchers reached the proximity of NS headquarters.  First, the NS rushed to get all the shops and home doors locked and also get NS personnel on the roofs of most of the neighboring buildings near the NS headquarters.  The water cannons were then deployed to cease the posting of tents by the protesters Very soon after, that NS uniformed and non-uniformed snipers sprayed a wobble of bullets against the protesters killing nine and wounding around eighty protesters.

The National Security claimed that the protesters were “storming” the NS premises and shot at them.   This could not be corroborated by any means, since the demonstrators were still at a far distance from the NSHQ and were posting tents with a view towards carrying out a sit-in or vigil until their demands were met.   There was also not one casualty among NS personnel and videos taken at the scene revealed the NS snipers and shooters moving with ease and comfort in the roofs of the NS HQ and the adjoining buildings, with all fire going in one direction against the protesters.

The Martyr Who Died Trying to Save the Lives of Others

The tragic showdown had its moments of unequalled bravery, notwithstanding the political ramifications of the bloody carnage.  In such situations, the observer is bound to be impressed by the actions and bravery of people on the scene, who put all political considerations aside and threw out all fear from their hearts, as they insisted on delivering a moving humanitarian message.  Such thinking has apparently long been erased from the minds of the cold hearted marksmen of the NS, whose only drives in life are nourished by the number of “hits” that their bullets land on the unguarded human flesh they are aimed at.  It is a hopeless encounter and the odds of making it out alive are near zero, because the shooters have been taught that their “profession” does not allow for second thoughts about where the bullets they fire should land.  “Aim and kill” and forget all else.  It is a cold blooded feeling, most modern law enforcement and security organs try to work against as much as possible.  In Turkey, protesters have been gathering en masse for the last two weeks and despite the unabashed determination of the Erdoghan Government to quell the protests, only three people have died (with scores of injured), mostly from inhalation of toxic gas or smoke.  The NS carnage in Sana’a resulted in 13 young lives being taken away from their parents, who wanted no more than their children living in a free and democratic country, like all their peers in modern societies.  The wounded revealed a horrifying hour or two, which none had expected to survive.

Mustafa Mohammed Abu Talib, the 25 years old son of a private nurse, who owns a drug store in Rawdha, was also a pharmacist, who just finished his university studies for a Bachelors Degree in Pharmaceuticals.  He was working with his father, almost since he began to walk, while at the same time learning how to be able to give essential medical/health and first-aid care.  He is well known to this observer, who lives about half a US block away from his father’s small drug store/clinic.  Mustafa was a very cordial, polite and well disciplined lad, who was never seen to carry any weapons and had no appetite for any forms of combat.  His dedication to health and medical care is well engrained and is well known as an expert at shooting needles in the right place in the arms or other places they need to be shot – He never had trouble getting the needle in the right blood vessel or muscular spot.  He has saved many lives and taken care of many people to the point that people in Rawdha were even saying that he has surpassed his father in providing first aid care to emergency  cases that come to their small clinic/drug store.  This is important in Rawdha, which is five kilometers from the more urban center of Sana’a.

Mustafa knew that his orphaned nephews might be tempted to take part in the protests and was there to make sure that they do not get entangled in any violent confrontations.   When the gunfire started he immediately took his nephews away from the firing range of the NS gunslingers and put them on a mini bus for home.  He then took his first aid kit and went back to the place, where the barrage of bullets continued to rain in from all around the protesters, who could not easily find a place for cover or get away.  Flesh was being torn everywhere that Mustafa could see.  He opened up his medical kit bag and began to treat as many people as he could with essential first aid.  He was shot in one of the thighs.  He took some bandage and wrapped it around the wound in his thigh and soon thereafter returned his attention to the other wounded young lads. He kept treating as many wounded people as he could and he was probably the only health care professional on the scene.  No one had expected such a one sided display of eagerness to see blood splattered everywhere to “teach those Houthis a lesson” they will never forget, as some hate filled mongers commented about this disturbingly disproportionate showdown.  Thus, there were probably not any medical personnel on the scene other than Mustafa.  Soon later, another bullet hit his side and no one could tell what happened thereafter, because those who could leave have left and those who remained or were wounded and could not be evacuated were picked up by NS personnel.  Mustafa’s father and other relatives searched in every hospital they knew and Mustafa could not be found.  After two days of tireless searching, Mustafa’s father was advised to come pick up his body at the Police Hospital.  When Mustafa’s father got there, he was asked by some security personnel to sign a statement that his son was killed in the crossfire “as he was walking in the scene” and may have been armed.  Mustafa’s father had known from witnesses and his son’s nephews that his son was treating the wounded and was mercilessly shot as he was exercising his humanitarian professional duty.  He refused and it was not until the Houthis used the political muscle they had that finally all the dead and wounded, who were rounded up by NS personnel were handed over to AA.  The Houthis had also brought in lawyers and other experts to record all the medical synopsis of the dead and wounded casualties, through which they will demand for justice against the perpetrators of this heinous crime and due compensations to the families of the victims.  To get back to Mustafa, who was buried in the Houta Cemetery in Rawdha, where his grandparents and ancestors have been buried for generations, all could be said was that he was one of the most likeable personalities in Rawdha.  Everyone this writer knows, who also knew Mustafa, could not pull back the tears when the shocking news of his death was told to them.  He was a friend to everyone in Rawdha, who would find nothing more enjoyable than to pass by Mustafa in his father’s drug store to chat or joke with the likeable dedicated health professional.  Old and young were shocked by the cold blooded way in which Mustafa and the other dead and wounded victims of that bloody Sunday and Monday were mowed down.

Incidentally, another dead victim, Elias Al-Shami (also from Rawdha) was also found in the Police Hospital.  His body did not have any bullet wounds or other evidence of lacerations and the cause of his death is unknown to this day.  The police say, his body “was found already dead”, without any other explanations.  From his picture, it was evident that the latter was clearly much younger than Mustafa and maybe in his late teens or early twenties.

Human Rights Watch was quick to issue a clear condemnation of the massacre on Day I of the bloody carnage:  hrw NS Massacre Yemen

Ironically the National Security Organ is legally an outlaw organization, since it was not established by any legal law, statute or decree.  It was headed by Ali Abdullah Saleh’s nephew Ammar Mohammed Saleh (Ammar and US) before it was handed over to the Islah Party on a silver platter.

Another paradox is that the sermon speakers of the Islah Party, during the revolt after their defection, were highly critical of the National Security Organ, calling it on several occasions by the tongues of leading Islah leaders one of Saleh’s dirtiest and bloodiest organizations, which must be done away with because it has no legal grounds for its existence.  Yet, throughout this week, since the bloody massacre of Northeast Sana’a was unleashed, not one word was uttered by the Islah leaders or spokesmen and their members in the National Dialogue Committee (NDC) fought diligently to prevent any condemnation by the NDC.


[1] Why they placed the NS HQ in the Old City of Sana’a is still a mystery, since that area would not be a place where terrorists are to be readily found, if we assume that its function was to fight terror.

[2] The First Armored Brigade is the longstanding mega military domain headed by General Ali Mohsin Al-Ahmar, who was also Commander of the Northern and Western Military Axis (Zones) and once regarded as the Second Man in Power after the deposed President Ali Abdulla Saleh, who agreed to abandon  his more than 33 years’ tight grip on the Presidency of the Republic of Yemen in November 21, 2011 and handed over the Presidency to the current President, Abdu-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the former’s Vice President “without portfolio” as some politely described the latter’s functionality, from Mid-Year 1994.  Hadi hails from Abyan Governorate and was instrumental in the defeat of the Southern Forces during the Civil War of 1994, which ended in July 17, 1994, with the chaotic entry of  Northern Forces to Aden.

[3] Actually, the Zeidis are more closer to Sunnis than most people realize.  However, the Saudi Wahhabi establishment (Al Saud Clan and Al Al-Sheikh – descendants of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahhab, the “founder” of the Wahhabi Movement “puritanical” movement) consider the Zeidis as their most threatening menace, with such contention reinforced by the poor showing of Saudi forces against the Houthis in the Sixth Sa’ada War of 2009/2010.

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About Hassan Al-Haifi

Columnist, Political Analyst; knowledgeable on Middle East and Islamic Affairs; specialist on economic and financial affairs and development issues.
This entry was posted in Religious Freedom in Yemen, Uncategorized, Yemen Peaceful Revolution, Yemen Politics, الثورة السلمية في اليمن and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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