Saleh's Thugs (Yemen (formerly: Yemen Arab Republic))

Country: Yemen (formerly: Yemen Arab Republic)
Details of Formation: The group must have been formed shortly after the first protests started on 27 January 2011. The first evidence suggests 29 January 2011 but it is uncertain if there have been attacks before. President Saleh and his subordinates were involved in forming the groups and recruiting members.
Details of Termination: The group was linked to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. When Saleh stepped down on 27 February 2012 and was succeeded that day by a new president, the Saleh’s thugs ceased to be pro-government.
Purpose: The thugs’ main purpose was to intimidate political position during protests and to thereby ensure Saleh staying in power.
Organisation: Saleh’s thugs were organized by Saleh and his subordinates. Members were briefed by high-ranking intelligence officials.
Weapons and Training: Members used guns, batons and clubs, stones, jambiyas (small Yemeni daggers) and knives. In one case people were attacked with a grenade at them, but it is not clear whether the grenade came from Saleh’s thugs.
Size: A news source from July 2011 says that tens of thousands of tribesmen were paid to show up for weekly pro-government rallies.
Reason for Membership: Members were paid by security officials for participating. Such members included elders and unemployed, and some children of participants were also dragged to the scene by older relatives. Payments for participating in the pro-government rallies ranged from 7,000 riyals ($55) to 12,000 ($55) per day.
Treatment of Civilians: Saleh’s thugs attacked peaceful protesters, such as a women’s march at which they threw stones (Amensty International 2011b). In another event they fired at protesters and attacked them with batons, while members of the security forces stood by and did not intervene (Amnesty International 2011a). Other reports mention that the thugs beat journalists and harassed female protestors; some activists were even kidnapped.
Other Information: The group is normally just called thugs but also baltajiyas/baltagea which is the Arab word for thugs.
References: Amnesty International. 2011. “Deadly attack on Yemeni protesters undermines reform plans.”

Amnesty International. 2011. “Yemeni women attacked while celebrating Nobel Peace Prize

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD