Dr. al-Qirbi: No Negotiations with al-Qaeda Elements [Archives:2002/06/Front Page]

February 4 2002

Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi announced Thursday in a press conference that investigations into the USS Cole bombing on the part of the Yemeni government had been completed and that the case file had been referred to the Attorney General who could decide the timing of the trial of the six suspects being held in prison. But he said the Americans had pointed out that they collected new important information about the incident from al-Qaeda element being arrested.
The Foreign Minister said such information had not been given to Yemeni investigators yet. But, he pointed out that such information should be studied by the two sides. He also added that the Yemeni government had been holding talks since the September 11th and might reveal some information about the USS Cole incident in which 17 marines were killed and other 39 injured. He stressed that such things came under security cooperation not only with the USA but with many other countries. A team of F.B.I investigators is likely to arrive in Yemen this week to continue the process of investigations.
Concerning the hunting down of the two prime elements of al-Qaeda, Mohammed al-Ahdal and Qaid al-Harethi, Dr. al-Qirbi denied that Yemeni military troops were tightening the grip on the two suspects but said the troops knew their whereabouts. He also denied any sort of negotiation with them and the fact that the US handed over to Yemen a list of 39 wanted suspects. But he said the troops could crack down on and capture them, if they didnt surrender, adding the troops were present in the areas where they had not stationed before. He said there should be an understanding of the tribal structure of the society, adding that president Saleh’s meetings and speeches could convince most of the tribal Sheikhs to stand by the government in its fight against outlaws and suspected terrorists.
He claimed that arrested suspects are not all terrorists. They have been hunted down and arrested for security purposes, as some were detained for having been to Afghanistan. He pointed out that if they were proved terrorists, they would be tried in Yemen according to the Yemeni law, making clear that they would not be extradited to the USA.