92 al-Qaeda and AAIA suspects to be freed [Archives:2003/687/Local News]

November 20 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered the release of 92 members of al-Qaeda and the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (AAIA) on the basis of the recommendations of clerics.
The clerics, who were given the job of interviewing fanatics, say these 92 have repented of their extremist views, a Yemeni official news report said Sunday, without giving a date for the release.
The original number to be released was 150, but opposition sources and independent observers said that the foreign pressure, mainly from the US, kept the number at 92.
However, other sources said that high ranking Yemeni security and intelligence officials are aloof to get these fanatics released as they believe they still represent a challenge and that some of the freed ones have been caught red-handed again.
One source said that President Saleh was briefed Sunday on the results of the dialogues with al-Qaeda and AAIA militants in jails. It pointed out that the pardoned extremists denounced their fanatic ideas of violence, extremism and terrorism, declaring that they would abide by law and order and not target foreign embassies and interests in Yemen.
Fifty-four of the freed extremists are members of the AAIA or what is called “Huttat group” who, according to official sources, surrendered to government and declared repentance. The pardon includes the leader of the AAIA, Khalid Abdul Nabbi who is already free.
Yemeni special counter terrorism forces stormed the mountainous area of Huttat, 120 km north east of Aden governorate, hunting down some 80 militants who attacked on June 21 a military medical convoy injuring a doctor, five aides and the driver.
Tanks, artillery, heavy machine guns and other weapons were used in the military operation against the militants who were camping in the rugged area along with some al-Qaeda militants suspected of having links with the USS Cole bombing.