President Saleh to CNN: There is no solid evidence that bin Laden was behind the Cole incident [Archives:2002/07/Front Page]
SANAA President Ali Abdullah Saleh told CNN Saturday that both Yemeni and American investigations into the USS Cole attack show no evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.
Saleh also told CNN that its believed some of the attackers have been to Afghanistan or fled to it.
The president re-iterated there was no clear evidence bin Laden or al-Qaeda were behind the attacks on the USA, its embassies or The Cole.
He confirmed in CNNs Insight that Yemen opposes any military acts in the war against terrorism, and that intelligence measures should be enough.
He said that US warships can refuel in Aden port without concern, and that the agreement between Yemen and the USA in this respect is still valid from Yemens end, even if its been put on hold by the USA. He said security measures can be taken to ensure ship safety.
He also pointed out that the government is using all means to convince tribesmen not to harbor terrorists, and that some of them have started cooperating with the government in this regards. He said if security methods fail to bring Al-Ahdal and Al-Harethi, military action can be taken.
President Saleh also said that Yemen is faced by some difficulties in hunting down and arresting two suspected al-Qaeda fugitives, Qaid Ali Al-Harethi and Mohammed Hamdi Al-Ahdal.
In an interview with the New York Times last week, Saleh said, We face some difficulties just like the difficulties faced by the Americans and the alliance.
He pointed out that the tribes know the places where they hide better than the security.
The photos of the two fugitives have been distributed in the country so that people can identify them and help police arrest them.
President Saleh denied that there are difficulties and differences between Yemeni and US investigators who are probing the Cole suicide bombing attack. I have not been informed officially about any difficulties in security issues from the Americans, he said,
We are dealing with the United States to confront and fight terrorists, he added. Yemen is chasing down so-called Qaeda members and any extremist elements that cause security problems for us or for anyplace in the world.
He also pointed out that he had requested America help in building a reliable coast guard, and would like assistance with additional military equipment.
Yemen bought F-5 military planes at the end of the 1970s for $400 million from the USA. But since then the US refused to provide Yemen with spare parts for the planes. The US is against a military bargain-sale of 16 planes Yemen intends to buy from Russia at $360 million.