A member of Hamas was kidnapped and tortured to death by Emirati security services in Yemen.
Salim Ahmed Ma’arouf was kidnapped on Friday from a security checkpoint in Marib, east of Yemeni capital Sanaa. He was reportedly abducted by Emirati security services before being tortured to death, i24 news reported, citing numerous Arabic-language sources. It is thought he was arrested for his links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Originally from Khan Younis, in the south of the besieged Gaza Strip, the 36-year-old Palestinian had been living in Yemen for 15 years with his wife and five children. He reportedly worked for the Al-Quds International Institution and was an imam at the Iman University in Sanaa.
Hamas this weekend confirmed Ma’arouf’s death, saying in an official statement that the movement “mourned its son” who was killed “Friday morning at a security checkpoint”. The statement also urged Yemen to open an investigation into the killing and bring the “perpetrators to justice as soon as possible”.
Though the statement did not explicitly accuse the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of killing Ma’arouf, his brother-in-law Mou’id Abu Yahiya tweeted that “Salim was murdered in security prisons by UAE intelligence after being kidnapped and tortured”.
The UAE has not responded to these allegations.
The UAE intervened in Yemen in 2015 as part of the Saudi-led coalition, in a bid to reinstate Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was ousted by Houthi forces in January of that year.
Loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh – who ruled Yemen from 1990 until his resignation in 2012 during the Arab Spring – Houthi forces have since taken over vast swathes of territory, including the crucial port city of Hudaydah. Despite the fact that a UN-backed ceasefire in Hudaydah was reached last year, the country continues to be ravaged by civil war, famine and poverty.
The UAE has of late reduced its presence in Yemen, prompting its Saudi ally to take control of Al-Mokha and Al-Khokha ports, which Emirati forces had previously been using to launch their campaign in Hudaydah. Though UAE officials cited “strategic and tactical reasons” for the drawdown, commentators have interpreted the move as evidence that the UAE can no longer “sustain [its war in Yemen] militarily, financially, and most important politically”.
More broadly the UAE has been critical of Hamas as a result of regional rivalries with Qatar – which it has blockaded since 2017 – and Turkey.
In April, former aide to Emirati Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed, Abdel-Khaliq Abdullah, claimed that his country had “run out of patience” with Hamas and its ally Turkey. Abdullah also argued that the besieged Gaza Strip – along with Sudan under ousted President Omar Al-Bashir and Iran – are “the clearest proof of what happens when political Islam dominates and monopolies prevail, resulting in corruption, tyranny and destruction”.
Abdullah is no stranger to controversial comments, in March calling on the international community to “liberate” the Gaza Strip from Hamas, which he labelled “an occupation government”. His comments provoked widespread anger and calls for the UAE to focus on combatting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem rather than specific Palestinian factions.