Four Years on Sana’a Mosques Massacre, Kanan Can Barely Remember His Martyred Father
By al-Ahed Correspondent
Sana'a - Kanan, eight-year-old, all he can remember well of his martyred dad is that "my father was taking me in a trip to the park".
Kanan was only 4-years-old when he lost his father as two suicide bombers detonated themselves with two other bombers at two pro-Zaidi mosques, Badr Mosque and Al Hashoosh, on 20 March, 2015 while worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.
At least 137 were martyred, and 351 wounded, according to medics. Local media said the attacks are "the deadliest terrorist attacks in Yemen's history".
Some children were killed because their fathers brought them to the mosques. However, Kanan was only 4-years-old at the time, that's why his father did not take him there.
On Wednesday [March 20, 2019], the day that marks the fourth anniversary of this massacre, Kanan sat beside his father's grave, and prayed for him along with his grandfather, Hamoud.
Kanan has another sister. She is 9-years-old and was in a deep state of shyness that we forget to ask about her name. She also refused to be pictured nor to speak to al-Ahed News reporter.
She and Kanan study at a private school. She is at second grade, and Kanan at first grade. Kanan says he has a dream to be something special in the future.
“I dream to become a flight engineer," Kanan said while sitting near his father grave. However, his grandfather smiled and interrupted him: “say to be a fighter pilot and take revenge from Al Saud [the Saudi monarchy that's ruling KSA]."
Then, Kanan's grandfather, Hamoud, was walking with a stick between the graves where hundreds buried including martyrs of these four suicide bombers that the Yemeni branch of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] claimed its responsibility for the first time since it was announced to have a branch in Yemen in November 2014.
US administration on the next day of the suicide bombers condemned the attack without sending condolences to the families of the victims. "The White House 'strongly condemned' the attacks, but said it could not confirm that those behind them were affiliated with Daesh, according to BBC.
Spokesman Josh Earnest said Daesh could be falsely claiming responsibility.
Kanan's grandfather, Hamoud, remembers with pain the two terrorist suicide bombers, claiming to be disabled and hiding explosives under casts, detonated at Al Hashoosh Mosque worshippers, near Sana'a International Airport, where he used to pray at and where Kanan's father, and Hamoud's son Ghaleb martyred.
Hamoud, during our visit to the graveyard, he pointed with his stick to a martyr. He named him Osama. Osama at his late teens. Hamoud said Osama was a guard at the entrance of Al Hashoosh mosque and any worshipper was subjected to security searches before entering the mosque via Osama.
Osama was a volunteer at the popular committees that had captured Sana'a. Hamoud says we were performing Friday prayers, "we heard an explosion outside the mosque". "It was this boy, Osama, who stopped -at the entrance- the first suicide bomber from getting inside the mosque, then the attacker after resorted to blow himself up," Hamoud told al-Ahed News.
Before we went to the graveyard, we met father of Osama, Mohammed Al Ward, outside the mosque. Hamoud told us he is a father of a son martyred at the entrance of the mosque in a heroic operation.
Al Ward, told us that he is proud of his son who was able to dismantle the first suicide bomber. "He was martyred to let more than 200 worshippers inside the mosque live."
"Osama searched the suicide bomber at the entrance. The suicider told him he wants to get into the mosque to blow himself at the worshippers," Osama's father said, citing reports of colleagues survived the blast.
"According to the families near the entrance, they told me he got in a fistfight with the suicider, he took him over a taxi to be transported to special place, and the suicider threatened to blew himself up. Osama urged his colleague to run for their lives, but he is not afraid of his life, forcing the suicider to blow himself up," said Osama's father.
Kanan's father was inside the mosque, while his grandpa was at the prayer hall. It was a surprise for our website to speak to Hamoud while he was sitting before we reach him at the same place he said he was in during the blast.
After the first explosion, another terrorist infiltrated on crutches to the mosque, claiming disabled and hiding explosives at his legs that were really detonated materials plastered on.
How it happened?
Another survivor, Mohsen Taher, in his sixties, said he was under the rostrum two minutes before the second suicider blew himself up at the same place.
Immediately after the prayer, Taher said, worshippers stormed out of the mosque, to figure out what happened outside the mosque in the first explosion. "I was one of those who run to see," Taher said.
"I just came out from the western gate of the mosque cup the prayer yard, helping an elder man to walk, I stood at this place, where grandfather of Kanan was sitting," Taher told al-Ahed News. “Immediately I heard second explosion inside the mosque," Taher added.
“It was the terrorist suicide bomber who infiltrated after the first explosion that targeted the security belt. He wanted to target the preacher Taha Al Mutawakel, [now health minister]."
Taher explained that the second explosion was at the place where he performed Friday prayers. "All the people whom were around me martyred because they remained there," Taher said, thanking Allah that he got out immediately.
"American and ‘Israeli’ Design"
People at Al Hashoosh Mosque were surprised at the international biased condemnations of the terrorist suicide bombers, where condemnations limited to denounce the assault without sending condolences to the families of victims like the one of the White House.
The international community kept silent on this crime, according to Taher, because it was “an American and ‘Israeli’ design a long time ago".
"There were efforts to foment sectarian division and civil strife," Taher noted. "They failed to do so, because Yemenis are all brothers, followers of Zaidism or Shafi'i Islam live together and share mosques, that's why victims are from all community."
At the time, there were many of Ansarullah leaders at the mosque who survived the bombers like late president Saleh Ali Al Samad, whom Hamoud said was on the second floor of the mosque. Al Samad was then martyred in a US drone air strike in Hodeidah last April.
However, innocent civilians died at this terrorist attack including Kanan's father who was working at the Commercial Bank and Agricultural Cooperative Lending and has nothing to do with this all this sectarian assaults.
Suffering of the victims' families
Grandfather of Kanan, Hamoud, lost his son Ghaleb in the terrorist attack. Kanan lost his father, and Hamoud mourns his son Ghaleb.
Ghaleb was working at the Commercial Bank and Agricultural Cooperative Lending Bank and was able to make a good living for his father and two sons. However, after this assault, Hamoud says his son's salary was decreased by the bank.
"The bank pays now only $50. It's for nothing if his children are still depending on it," said Hamoud.
"I have tried, last year, to get one of my sons to marry Kanan's mother, so she won't feel the pain of parting with him [Ghaleb]," Hamoud told al-Ahed News. "They are now living together with the two children happily."
While we were waiting for Kanan and his sister to get out of the school so we can visit their father's grave, Saudi-led warplanes were hovering on Sana'a for the first time in more than a month.
That Saudi overflight has demonstrated that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the war to end, and that the cycle of war will continue to let Yemeni children like Kanan to suffer and pay the heaviest price.