Foreign Policy Blogs

Yemen: Sheikh al-Zindani Experiments on People

Sheikh Abdel-Mageed al-Zindani a prominent cleric and staunched opponent to the regime is adding to his many list of alleged crimes, human testing.
The Sheikh who is now in hiding since President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a warrant for his arrest earlier this year for his ties with al-Qaeda militants has been on the American Most Wanted Terrorist list for quite some time now, with Senator Mac Cain stating that the man was a menace to society.
A well respected figure within the Yemeni community, Sheikh al-Zindani has been shamelessly using his position to abuse the weak and bank on their vulnerabilities.

Human Testing

Being a country where traditions are highly uphold and respected, Yemenis have for millennia used their vast array of medicinal plants to cure their various ailments, putting as much faith in alternative treatments than in mainstream medicine.
However, most “modern” Yemenis would know better than to put their fate into the hands of a healer if confronted with illnesses such as cancer, AIDS or even type 2 diabetes.
However as most are living below the poverty line and since medical treatments are rather expensive many patients are willing to explore alternative ways of riding themselves from their diseases, putting their lives into the hands of potential crooks and criminals.
Sheikh al-Zindani used his status within the society to coerced sick people to entrust him as he promised that he would made them better.
Some might say that it was pure folly to believe a man with no medical credential or success rate, but those do not know Yemen and the power that Sheikhs hold in the popular psyche. There are 2 types of Sheikhs in Yemen, some are little Kings within their territories others are religious authoritative figures.
Zindani belongs to both.
For several decades now, Zindani has been conducted amoral medical experiments on the sick and disabled, claiming to be curing them while really testing medical compounds directly onto human.
Because he is offering free treatments and hopes for those who have none left, streams of people are constantly passing through the Sheikh’s facilities in Sana’a, the capital.

Amal Saif Ali

Amal Saif Ali came to al-Zindani after she had unsuccessfully terminated a round of chemotherapy for her cancer.
After a couple of years of respite, Amal suddenly fell ill again. Terrified at the idea of having to endure another chemo treatment, the young woman went against her parents’ wishes and decided to give the Sheikh a go, hoping that he would rid her of the illness painlessly.
As soon as she passed the door of the “hospital”, Amal revealed that she was ordered to stop all her previous medical treatment. The medical staff then informed her that all her medicine taking would be supervised within the compound itself as no patient was ever allowed to bring home their prescriptions.
“I took several pills, drinks and injections per day for several months, spending about 3 to 4 hours at the hospital for every visit. After a few weeks I began to feel very ill and weak. At one point I fainted in the street unable to carry on any longer”.
As test revealed, Amal’s cancer cells had spread throughout her entire body with doctors sadly announcing that her chances of survival were now very slim.
The young woman was immediately rushed to Jordan where she underwent a grueling cancer treatment with both radiation and chemotherapy.
A year later she was declared cancer free.
“I was so lucky,”she said. “Thank god I survived. I want now for people to know what this man is doing; he is preying on the weak and hopeless, subjecting them to the most horrendous pains….and all for what? Money? Glory?” added Amal Saif Ali.

Pharmaceutical Companies

Although those allegations could not be proven, several sources within the medical facilities revealed that al-Zindani was working in partnership with several “big” pharmaceutical companies which were hoping to cut corners, passing on to human trials before making sure that the medicine given were safe for consumption.
A cure would generate hundreds of millions of dollars and many companies apparently are willing to jeopardize the lives of a few to reach that goal.
Since the Sheikh holds a certain status within Yemen they knew that the authorities would not ask too many questions, trusting that al-Zindani was conducting a legitimate business. Moreover, alternative medical treatment centers are perfectly legal in Yemen.
The Sheikh used the system, abusing people’s trust and that of the government.
Countless men and women were sent into diabetic coma for Zindani told them to stop their daily insulin injections; others saw their cancer spread so fast that they died within weeks.
And because Amal had the courage to speak up, we owe her to listen.



Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam

Although French by birth, my studies and my professional life led me to live for many years in the United Kingdom and in the Middle East.
Armed with a Master in Finance, a Bachelor degree in Psychology and 5 languages under my belt I managed to make my way through the maze of the Trading World of Wall Street, as an equity consultant. However, my interest for Politics and the Middle East gave me the necessary push to launch me as a "writer". Since then, I have voiced my opinions via my Blog and various publications such as the Middle East Post, the Guardian UK, and now Foreign Policy Association. I currently live in London.