As Saleh Calls for Internal Solidarity Yemen Confirms Arrest of 21 Persons [Archives:2001/42/Front Page]

October 15 2001

The Minister of Interior, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi denied arrest of over 500 people for having links with the al-Qaidah organization and its leader, Usama Bin laden. He said only 21 people who have been to Afghanistan were arrested. They are being interrogated for security purposes. He also denied the news that the Yemeni police arrested 21 Egyptians for the same reason. He said Yemen has taken stiff measures on those coming into and going out of Yemen, adding that a team of different departments has been formed to look into the issuance of visas. Visas can not be issued to any person without the agreement of this team. He also pointed out in an interview with the 26th September newspaper that his ministry has temporarily stopped issuing visas to Arab and foreign students studying in Yemeni universities. The Minister disclosed that a number of people coming from other countries have been detained and that information about them is being exchanged with their respective countries. He said there are no indications of the involvement of Yemenis in the terrorist attack against the USA last September, adding that cooperation between Yemen and the USA has been boosted to include several security fields. 
The Minister said the Aden-Abyan Military Army was no longer existing, pointing out that it was there during a particular time with a terrorist purpose against Yemen, but it was stormed out during the Abyan fiasco that killed four foreign tourists. Some of its militants have been detained and produced before justice. Some of them are still serving their sentence in prison in Aden. Their leader, Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar, was sentenced to death in October 1999.
Dr. al-Alimi said a special department for combating terrorism and kidnapping was recently initiated the ministry, and it was provided with a computerized network for collecting data about such perpetrators. The network is being linked with airports, port and passport authorities.
The Minister didn’t comment on the arrest of bin Laden’s father-in-law, Ahmad Abdulfattah Assadah, who was reportedly arrested in Ibb. Reports say he married his daughter to bin Laden over one year ago. He have already been detained, but reports say he denied marrying his daughter to bin Laden. He said his daughter is married to a person who is studying in Pakistan.
In response to the American strikes against Taliban, scores of students at Hajjah College of Education staged a demonstration last Thursday to protest the US and British attacks against Afghanistan. However, the police intervened and stopped the protesters, detaining four of them. The detainees belong to the Nasserite Unionist Party, including the secretary of the party in Hajjah.
During Friday prayers, preachers’ sermons condemned the US strikes against Afghanistan and called for resisting collaborating with the USA and its allies. They considered the strikes as a Crusade against Muslims everywhere. They recalled the sufferings of the Palestinian people who are being slaughtered by the Israeli military forces on a daily basis. However, no demonstrations were staged in any of the Yemeni cities. Nonetheless, stiff security measures have been taken around the US and UK embassies in Sana’a. Western citizens have been advised to take stiff security measures and to be on high alert. Moreover, it has been reported that some of these people have left Yemen for their respective countries.
Around 172 religious scholars issued a religious fatwa discouraging any cooperation with the USA and its alliance in their war against Afghanistan. They called all Muslims to stand by the Afghan people in their plight. The scholars said in a press release that facilitating the war of the USA against Afghanistan is a big conspiracy, and asked Muslims to support Afghans morally, financially and through prayers. Yemeni scholars demanded that Arab and Muslim leaders do not follow the USA blindly in its war and that terrorism should be spelt out clearly, with consideration to the Israeli atrocities in the Palestinian territories which have been supported by the USA. They also pointed out that the word “Crusade”, uttered by the American President, George Bush, was not a slip of a tongue, as the USA is mobilizing its troops toward Muslim countries. They urged Muslim countries not to accept a coalition with the USA that allows no alternative but to be with the USA or with terrorism. They said such a coalition means a surrender to the USA , as a real coalition between countries brings about satisfaction to both sides which share the same free will. However, this coalition makes countries lose their independence and exposes people to foreign colonization, they say.
However, this statement couldn’t provoke any feelings of hostility against the USA. Even the official media neglected it completely and not much attention has been paid to it. This is because the Yemeni authority seems not to object the military strikes that the USA is carrying out against Afghanistan.
To this end, President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Vice President met last Wednesday with religious scholars, leaders of political parties, parliamentarians and social dignitaries. The meeting concerned the current situation in the world in light of the attacks against the USA. The participants stressed that civilians in Afghanistan should not be hit, increasing their ever-lasting pain. They emphasized on the necessity of differentiating between terrorism and nations’ struggle for freedom, independence and resisting of occupiers. Terrorism should not be also associated with any religion or nation. They also said the fight against terrorism should have limited targets and not be left open.
President Saleh reconfirmed Yemen’s condemnation of terrorism, pointing out that Yemen is a victim of this infamy. The President said we need patience and wisdom in order to cure this epidemic, giving no chance for perpetrators of terrorism to incite conflicts and hostility between religions, cultures or human civilizations. He said all people share in undertaking this responsibility. He further stressed that having a fair and just solution to the Palestinian issue, enabling the Palestinians to establish their state with al-Quds as their capital, will further peace and stability in the region and the world at large. The president told the participants that it was very necessary that all people join hands and unite, serving the higher interests of Yemen.
The official media, on their part, continued to stress the clear-cut stands of Yemen towards terrorism and the need to fight it worldwide through the UN.
Report: Mohammed H. al-Qadhi
Yemen Times