As businessmen jailed on pledges go on hunger strikeYemeni Al-Qaeda suspects transferred to court [Archives:2006/915/Front Page]
Mohamed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Jan. 24 – Mohamed Hamdi Al-Ahdal, detained on charges of having links to Al-Qaeda, was referred to the court, along with four other men, while two suspects refused to stand trial, official sources said Tuesday.
Many businessmen, jailed for pledges they wrote to bring back Al-Qaeda suspects to security authorities, are still on hunger strike in Aden Political Security Prison.
Media sources expect Al-Ahdal (also known as Abu Asem) to be transferred to the court soon on charges of having Al-Qaeda connections after being jailed since December 2003.
The September Net, affiliated with the Yemeni Ministry of Defense, reported last Monday that Al-Ahdal confessed to receiving large sums of money from foreign forces, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to September Net, Al-Ahdal received money from sources in Kuwait and other Gulf countries to fund Al-Qaeda activities in Yemen. He spent the money, totaling half a million dollars in 2002, purchasing arms and explosives to carry out terrorism and vandalism acts in Yemen, targeting public interests and institutions.
Security apparatuses investigated many people, arrested over time, and discovered that Al-Ahdal had links with some bombings in Yemen, in addition to botched plots, the same source said. Al-Ahdal was the major funding source for those terrorist acts and the elements launching them.
Al-Ahdal was arrested in a Sana'a home while preparing for his wedding party following intelligence observation and follow-up lasting for months. He eluded capture for several years. He escaped many arrest attempts launched by security apparatuses and is considered one of the most active Al-Qaeda elements. He traveled for Jihad in many countries including Chechnya and Afghanistan, and after the mutilation of one of his legs, he joined Al-Qaeda to supervise and fund terrorist operations.
The U.S. Administration handed over five suspects detained in Guantanamo Bay to the Yemeni government, which transferred them to penal prosecution and began investigating them based on files submitted by U.S. authorities, September Net added. Ghalib Al-Zaidi also is accused of harboring Al-Ahdal and offering him logistic support.
Sources said the five suspects currently under prosecution investigation are: Walid Shaher Al-Qadasi, Salah Salem Qaru, Mohamed Saleh Abdullah Al-Asad, Mohamed Faraj Ba Shumailah and Karama Sa'eed Khamsan. Investigations proved the first four suspects were not involved in direct terrorist operations; however, they confessed to forging ID cards for those belonging to Al-Qaeda.
Suspect No. 5, Karama Khamsan, 33, was detained in Guantanamo Bay on suspicion of drug trafficking and accused by prosecution of traveling to Pakistan to ensure admittance of two tons of hashish. Prosecution told the court Khamsan confessed to the charges attributed to him during security investigations.
According to court documents, Khamsan confessed traveling to the southern Pakistani city of Karachi at the beginning of 2001 to surrender himself as a hostage to a Pakistani drug exporter until his Yemeni partner repaid one million Saudi Riyals, the value of previously trafficked drugs.
Pakistani police arrested Khamsan after storming a farm during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime and handed him over to U.S. forces for detainment in Guantanamo Bay.
September Net mentioned that Yemeni security apparatuses discovered a cell of 19 people plotting to launch suicide operations and attack places where American citizens exist. It added that penal prosecution is finalizing investigation of the suspects to bring them to court on suspicion of plotting to carry out acts of vandalism and terrorism in Aden.
Some cell members returned to Yemen from Iraq under orders by Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi to launch terrorist operations, assassinate American citizens and bomb Aden Hotel, where foreigners and U.S. officials reside, sources claimed.
Before their capture, cell members bought and prepared arms, explosives and remote-bombing devices and set plans to carry out terrorist operations. They also forged various types of official documents, including ID cards with fake names, and leased houses in which to make their plots.
Two Sana'a cell suspects belonging to the “Faithful Youth Organization” founded by the slain Hussein Badraddin Al-Houthi described the Preliminary Court, which specializes in terrorism and state security, as unconstitutional under the pretext that Yemeni judiciary never acknowledges exceptional judiciary (a particular type of court established temporarily for certain issues).
Sharp controversy erupted last Monday at the court when two of 36 people, whom authorities accuse of forming armed bands to carry out offensives on capital military and security sites, stood trial. The offensives launched last March claimed the lives of several military and security troops and citizens in various parts of the capital. The two suspects refused to be tried by the court, established in 1998 to try kidnappers of foreigners and look into state security issues.
In the same context, six Yemeni businessmen jailed in Aden Political Security Prison staged a six-day hunger strike to protest their nine-month imprisonment on pledges they made to release detainees accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
The six prisoners explained that they wrote pledges to bring security authorities those accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda when they are wanted, but only if they remain in Yemen, not after departing the country with authorities' knowledge.
In memoranda to concerned parties and human rights organizations, the jailed businessmen stated that some of the wanted Al-Qaeda suspects traveled to Iraq, carried out operations there and were killed, while others still are detained in Iraq. They added that Yemeni authorities and Political Security learned of their travel to and operations in Iraq.
The businessmen's families appealed to President Saleh to intervene and release their relatives. In letters to the president, they emphasized that their relatives have been imprisoned for pledges they wrote as a kind of humanitarian deed.
The Yemeni government previously denied reports that nationals officially departed Yemen to Iraq to fight U.S. troops there. A Yemeni security source said reports that there are organized trips of Yemeni Islamists to Iraq are not correct. He added that Yemen opposed tens of youths traveling to Iraq before and after the U.S. occupation, saying, “We forced travelers at the airport to return home since we are not party in the war.”
Intellectual Dialogue Committee Chairman, Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar, along with those described as extremists, denied on Jan.7 any involvement by Yemeni nationals in Iraqi fighting. In case the reports prove correct, he pointed out that the committee is not the party responsible for passport issuance and security at the airport and on the borders.
The Yemeni Hood Organization invited the Ameican Constitutional Rights Center for a joint press conference at the Yemen Times next Saturday to discuss issues of Yemeni nationals jailed in Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. detentions worldwide.