172 Al-Qaeda suspects to be tried [Archives:2006/936/Front Page]

April 10 2006

SANA'A, April 8 ) Public prosecution is about to complete interrogating large numbers of suspects believed to be involved in terrorist activities or belonging to Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, an official weekly newspaper reported.

Defense Ministry mouthpiece September 26 reported that security agencies recently referred the files of 172 terror suspects and Al-Qaeda members to Public Prosecution for further interrogation and trial. Some were arrested on suspicion of plotting armed attacks against domestic and foreign targets in Yemen, it said, quoting a security source.

He said the suspects were rounded up in recent months on charges of forming armed gangs to carry out terrorist attacks in several parts of the country, jeopardizing Yemen's higher interests in addition to planning attacks against foreign interests. Many also were arrested on suspicion of belonging to Al-Qaeda.

The report said Prosecution was about to wrap up interrogations and the suspects would go on trial “in the coming days,” but it did not specify a date.

The Counterterrorism Court has convicted numerous suspected militants after witnessing a series of attacks in recent years, most notably the 2000 bombing by Al-Qaeda militants of the USS destroyer Cole in the southern port of Aden, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. A 2002 attack against French oil tanker Limburg killed one Bulgarian crew member and wounded 12 others.

Yemen, which is cooperating with the U.S.-led War on Terror, cracked down on suspected Al-Qaeda militants in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., convicting several presumed extremists, including a number in connection with the USS Cole and Limburg attacks.

However, the escape of 23 prisoners, including 13 convicted Al-Qaeda members who tunneled their way out of prison in February, caused the Yemeni government to step up its security crackdown. The fugitives include the leaders said to be behind the USS Cole and Limburg bombings, as well as a Yemeni-American wanted by the U.S.

Six jail breakers since have surrendered or been rearrested, according to Yemeni security officials, who claim that the sixth to surrender is Hizam Saleh Mojali, sentenced to death for his participation in the Limburg attack.