Al-Qaeda is attempting to impose strict regulations on citizens of the city of Jaar in Yemen's Abyan province, one month after members of the group seized the radio station and presidential palace and declared an Islamic emirate in the province.
"Al-Qaeda operatives control all affairs in Jaar in Khanfar district and have begun announcing the implementation of a plan to segregate boys and girls in separate schools and appoint a female administration for the girl's schools," Saleh al-Hanashi, director of the radio station, told Al-Shorfa.
"The [al-Qaeda] elements control the mosques and the mosques' missions. They are conducting seminars and calling for radicalisation and extremism in all affairs," he added.
Al-Qaeda elements in the city forced residents and business owners to pay taxes and local council fees to them instead of the state, according to officials.
In the group's first communiqué after capturing the city, al-Qaeda representatives said, "Women who go to the market to obtain essentials must be accompanied by a relative and must carry proof of identity such as a personal or family ID card or a passport."
Al-Hanashi said al-Qaeda is administering the city "with extreme recklessness and lack of knowledge", which exacerbates the adverse conditions, pointing out that its fighters are ostracized by citizens who deal with them very carefully and prevent them from venturing deep into the city's neighbourhoods.
Al-Qaeda set pre-conditions for re-opening the radio station, al-Hanashi said, and pressured him and other employees to reopen it under their control and supervision, but station employees refused.
According to al-Hanashi, al-Qaeda elements want to operate the radio station with an extremist orientation that serves their interests while instructing people to comply with their orders.
"We’ve gotten weary and apprehensive of al-Qaeda. The citizens are cautious while interacting with them, and this forced al-Qaeda elements to refrain from forcing them to do anything, [particularly] in light of the tense situation with the security forces, who launch attacks from time to time in an attempt to retake the city," al-Hanashi said.
He said the authorities are worried about the safety of residents, which prompted them to take a measured approach in attempting to restore the situation to normal.
"People are looking forward to the day when they don't see al-Qaeda in their city," al-Hanashi said.
Ahmed Ghaleb al-Rahwi, under-secretary of Abyan province, told Al-Shorfa al-Qaeda fighters are looting and plundering public property, especially the farms from which they stole cows and sheep and then sold them to citizens in the market.
Sheikh Nasr al-Shabi, a resident of Jaar, told Al-Shorfa, "Those who took over Jaar and declared it an Islamic emirate, are a mix of al-Qaeda elements, jihadis, some gangsters, and ex-convicts who were lured with money to join them."
He added that their presence in the city frightened citizens who have fled to other provinces with their families to ensure their safety. "I am one of those [who fled]. I took my family to the al-Hablain area in al-Dale city then came back to guard my house and property."
Al-Shabi wondered, "How can they claim they are jihadis (fighting) in the name of religion and carry the banner of Islam, when they walk around the city during prayer time and do not enter the mosques?"
Nasser al-Mansari, secretary-general of the local council in Khanfar district, told Al-Shorfa that al-Qaeda fighters use contemptible methods that endanger citizens.
"During the military campaign against them last week, they took refuge in the homes of citizens after they forced the owners out," he said, adding that some of the members are from other Arab nationalities.
With regard to al-Qaeda's plan to separate children at school by gender, al-Mansari said, "The cancelation of schools in most provinces delayed their project to exercise control over the schools and enforce their extremist views to prohibit the mingling of children and make changes to the curricula."
He said, "The tense political situation in Yemen has prolonged the life of the alleged emirate because it has benefited from the disagreements between the different political forces that created a vacuum and precluded dealing with terrorist