Appeals court supports prison for Al-Qaeda terrorist [Archives:2006/1000/Front Page]

November 20 2006

SANA'A, Nov. 18 ) The Terrorism Appeals Court has upheld a three-year imprisonment ruling against Mohammed Hamdi Al-Ahdal, Al-Qaeda's second-in-charge in Yemen, who was convicted of targeting foreign interests and raising funds for terror acts.

During the court's final session, prosecution accused Al-Ahdal of raising money to carry out terrorist plans, declaring that he collected more than l million Saudi riyals to finance terror acts in Yemen.

Such acts included striking the USS Cole in Aden port and French oil tanker Limburg in Mukalla, which, according to prosecution, were financed through financial transfers from Saudi Arabia either via phone or e-mail.

Additionally, prosecution pointed out that Al-Ahdal admitted meeting with Abu Ali Al-Harithi, Al-Qaeda's first-in-command in Yemen, whose car was targeted in a November 2002 U.S. missile attack in eastern Yemen's Marib governorate. According to a source, he further admitted working as Al-Harithi's bodyguard.

Prosecution also charged Al-Ahdal with receiving Ahmed Ibrahim, a Palestinian who entered Yemen illegally, and took him to Marib's Al-Houson district, where Al-Ahdal received SR 380,000 to buy weapons. Al-Ahdal also gave Al-Harithi SR 50,000 to carry out criminal and terrorist plans.

For his part, Al-Ahdal stated during the final court session that not all of the information was correct and that he had no connection with Al-Harithi. He further denied undertaking any military acts, as well as allegations that he was Al-Qaeda in Yemen's financial official, and requested a swift release.

Also known as Abu Asim, Al-Ahdal was arrested September 2003 in Sana'a following a lengthy period of intelligence work.

Born in Medina, Saudi Arabia in 1971, Al-Ahdal worked in the honey trade during the early part of his life. He was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 1999 and jailed for two months, after which Saudi authorities deported him to Yemen, where he lived in Hodeidah on Al-Ummal Street.

While living in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ahdal traveled many times to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also fought against the Russian army in Chechnya, where he was injured and his leg was amputated. Additionally, he made numerous visits to Afghanistan between 1999 and 2000.

Al-Ahdal traveled to Ethiopia in 2000 to follow the case of his cousin, who was accused of terrorist acts there. According to several sources, he became Al-Qaeda's top man in Yemen after Al-Harithi, key planner of the USS Cole attack, was killed.