New prospects of releasing 150 detainees [Archives:2003/680/Front Page]

October 27 2003

Sanaa, October 26 – One hundred and fifty detainees suspected of links to Al-Qaeda are close to being released, said Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar, member of Yemen's Supreme Court on Thursday. The event is expected to take place in celebration of the holy month of Ramadan based on orders from President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Al-Hitar is the head of the committee responsible for speaking to the detainees and trying to convince them to leave their extremist views and accept Islam as a religion of tolerance. “The 150 men are those who have already declared their repentance and their rejection of all forms of violence and extremism, and they have not been involved in punishable acts,” Al-Hitar said.
Al-Hitar added that five religious scholars are still holding talks with a group of eighteen extremists in an effort to have them abandon their radical views and become moderate Muslims.
Breakthroughs and successful attempts have been reported in convincing some of the prisoners to leave behind their old views and start a new life and have expressed willingness to join the mainstream and be active citizens in the community.
Furthermore, Al-Hitar confirmed that some 40 detainees are expected to be tried. The trial is expected to start next year. Those detainees are mostly accused of committing terrorist acts including the bombings of the American USS Cole in October 2000 and attacking the French tanker Limburg in October 2002.