Investigations to hunt 10 masterminds who fled the city of Aden190 still behind bars [Archives:2003/632/Front Page]

April 21 2003

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Informed sources told the Yemen Times that the number of elements apprehended by Yemeni authorities have climbed to 190 after the escape of ten key al-Qaeda suspects on April 11 from the political security prison in Aden.
Those elements are suspected to have planned and implemented the bombing the USS Cole destroyer at the port of Aden in October 2002.
Two of them are expected to be sentenced to death and some others are suspected of having links to al-Qaeda and accused of being involved in other explosion acts.
The sources said authorities aim to change the situation of the mujahideen youths, (Islamic militants) to the pre-1997 period.
The elements were tracked down by authorities when Abdurahman al-Jaza'eri was detained in Dhala'e that year.
Large-scale arrest campaigns and manhunt operations have alternated after kidnapping incidents and killing of foreigners by Abu Bakr al-Mehdhar in Abyan in December 1998.
Negotiation are conducted between authorities and some mujahedeen, to give up hunt-down and detention campaigns and to set the detainees free from the political security prisons and put an end to the US-Yemen cooperation to track down those elements.
Perhaps the cooperation with the US in anti-terror campaigns has taken different dimensions in recent period regarding tracking key al-Qaeda suspects and this could clearly be detected through the killing of the top al-Qaeda operator, Ali Qaed Salem Senyan al-Harethi and his companions by using a pilotless predator plane.
This also can be manifested through the arrest of the key al-Qaeda suspect wanted by the US named Fawaz Yahya Arrabea'e.
Perhaps matters will be stabilized within the framework of the US-Yemen cooperation, particularly after the escape of the 10 al-Qaeda suspects.
In the same context, two top political security officers have been conducting investigations to know the reasons behind the escape of the 10 al-Qaeda suspects.
On the other hand, security sources said that security authority has recognized the driver of a taxi that transported the 10 suspects from Attawahi to al-Shiekh Othman during the jailbreak.
The car which is believed to have taken the 10 suspects outside Aden has not been recognized yet.
Sources added that the authorities have set free 20 detaninees suspected of bombing the French oil supertanker, Limburg.
A source at the French embassy noted that the Limburg file has been closed under an official agreement with Yemen, while the USS Cole file has so far not been settled.
On the other hand, investigations are underway to convince Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, also known as, (Abu Asem), another key al-Qaeda operator to surrender to the US authorities on condition that guarantees have to be provided. But it was at length rejected by Abu Asem.
On September 8, 2001, an attack was carried out against Abeeda area in Marib governorate where helicopters and heavy artillery arrest two prime masterminds wanted the US and those are, Abu Asem and Abu Ali al-Harethi. The latter was killed by a US predator plane along with five associates.
Political observers see that the US-led war against Iraq and the stance of the other Arab countries particularly Yemen, will sympathize with al-Qaeda elements where the Yemeni authorities have committed themselves to search for them.
The authorities have faced difficulties in gathering information about those elements as well as in tracking them down.
Other observers see that the escape of the 10 prime al-Qaeda suspects could have links with other Yemeni elements as a result of the US-led war against the Iraqi people and the ongoing incidents in the Mideast.
On the other hand, circumstances under which the 10 key al-Qaeda suspects escaped are still unknown.
Security sources told the Yemen Times that security authorities have doubled efforts in all the Yemen's areas searching for al-Qaeda elements.
The security apparatus has allocated a financial reward for anyone who could give information about their whereabouts and their hideouts.
The source doesn't rule out that those elements might have escaped outside Yemen through sea outlets.
It is worthwhile mentioning that the files of the USS Cole destroyer and bombing of the French oil supertanker Limburg are still under study.