Attacker denies hes part of militant group Embassy attack still a mystery [Archives:2002/12/Front Page]

March 18 2002

SANA’A Initial reports suggest the man who attacked the US Embassy on Friday may belong to an Islamic radical group.
According to eye witnesses who saw the arrest person after his captur the attacker used certain Islamic phrases indicating his actions likely belong to a militant Islamist group.
Some sources also suggest the suspect has contacts with Abu Ali Al-Harethi, one of two al-Qaeda suspects being chased by Yemeni forces.
The 25-year old attacker, Sameer Yahya Awadh, maintains he has no links to any group and refuses to reveal any information that may link him to any Islamic group.
His refusal may mean his motives were personal, or he doesnt wish to put his group under pressure.
It is expected possible links to other groups will be known as investigations continue.
Awadh had thrown two grenades at a wall and near a gate of the U.S. embassy at 7:15 p.m. on Friday. The incident caused no injuries or damage.
Eyewitnesses said that the suspect showed no concern about the military forces that were guarding the embassy.
Perhaps he thought he would be shot and killed by policemen. It was a suicidal act. an eyewitness said.
A third grenade was later found in his possession, the Yemeni official said.
“He threw the grenade at the wall, but it hit a tree and blew up without causing any injuries or damage,” the Yemeni official said. He was about to throw the third bomb before he was arrested, another official said.
Official sources said that Awadhs relatives had indicated he was mentally disturbed.
Sameer Awadh, who is currently being held captive at the Sanaa Intelligence Police Department at the Capital Secretariat, is a student from the city of Kawkaban in the Mahweet province, 100 km northwest of Sanaa.
The incident came just two days after the embassy had warned Americans in Yemen they could be in danger of “imminent terrorist targeting.”
The embassy said in a message it had received “additional information” suggesting that an attack on Americans could take place at some time after March 8.
It gave no indication who might be planning to attack and did not link the threat with Cheney’s visit, which went ahead on Thursday under tight security.
The message said: “American citizens in Yemen should seriously consider minimizing visits to locations associated with foreigners … American-affiliated franchises, restaurants and hotels catering to expatriates. If you do decide to visit such locations, you should exercise extreme caution.”
In unusual detail for a warning of this kind, it mentioned a certain supermarket and a shopping center to avoid.
Americans should avoid moving around Sanaa alone, vary the stores at which they buy food or ask non-American domestic staff to buy food for them, it added.
Before driving, they should check their vehicles to make sure no one has tampered with them, it said.
Vice President Dick Cheney visited Sanaa on Thursday as part of his 11-nation Middle East tour.
The Vice President expressed his deep appreciation for President Salehs determination to eradicate the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen.
The two leaders also discussed ways of further strengthening US. Yemeni cooperation in staunching potential terrorist flows through the region.
Cheney indicated that in addition to being responsive to Yemens request for training its special forces in their counter-terrorism mission, the United States is planning to address essential military equipment needs and to increase assistance to Yemens Coast Guard and economy.
Just as important will be U.S. help in encouraging other members of the international coalition to contribute to Yemens development plans.
In reviewing the latest developments in the Middle East, the Vice President welcomed the Yemeni Presidents support for General Zinnis mission in the area. Mr. Cheney summed up that what the United States is striving for is the end of the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and the implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell plans with the ultimate objective of a Palestinian state coexisting peacefully with Israel.
Vice President Cheney and President Saleh also discussed the need to enhance security in the Gulf and address Iraqs development of weapons of mass destruction.