Abyan Court Passes Verdict on Extremists: IS IT OVER? [Archives:1999/19/Law & Diplomacy]

May 10 1999

Presided over by Judge Najib Muhammad al-Qadiri, the Primary Moudiya Court in Zinjubar, Abyan, issued on Wednesday, May 5th, its decision about the 12 persons accused of murder, terrorism, possession of arms, etc, under case number 1 for 1999. Three of them – Zainul-Abideen Al-Mihdhar – known as Abul-Hassan, Abdullah Al-Junaid, and Mohammed Saleh Bin Omar – Algeria national known as Abu Hurairah, were sentenced to death; Abdullah Ahmed Atef got a 20-year prison sentence, and the rest were acquitted.
The group, which is accused of forming the Aden and Abyan Islamic Army, is also accused of having links to an international terrorist network with the goal of sabotaging law and order in Yemen.
On December 27th, 1998, they kidnapped 18 American, Australian and British tourists who were on their way from Hadhramaut to Aden. On the 28th, when the army of Yemen stormed the kidnappers to free the hostages, 4 tourists were killed – Peter Rowe, Margaret Whitehouse, and Ruth Williamson, from the UK, and Andrew Thirsk from Australia. In addition, 2 kidnappers and 3 soldiers were also killed.
During the court session, the accused repeated their call for striking out against American and Western interests in the country. “The only dialogue with the West is through the bullets. Only force will restore our dignity,” yelled Abul-Hassan. He called for closing off the Red Sea to Western forces.
He also issued an ultimatum to foreigners in Yemen ordering them to pack and leave within 20 days. He made a call for the Aden and Abyan Islamic Army and mujahideen in Yemen to kill foreigners, stating that it was no crime to have an Islamic State.
Abul-Hassan described the court as secularist, and its verdict as pre-determined. He said he had known what the verdict would be much earlier. He looked sad and said, “Thanks to God for the humiliation Muslims receive in a Muslim country”.
It is worth mentioning that Abul-Hassan refused to appeal saying,”I don’t want to appeal the sentence. We seek martyrdom, and now we can have it.” Ywet, he threatened to carry out reprisals if the verdict were carried out.
His lawyer did appeal the verdict, and the appeal was officially lodged with the courts.
By: Ridhwan Al Saqqaf,
Head of the Yemen Times Bureau, Aden