Prospects of releasing 70 terror-linked detainees [Archives:2003/670/Front Page]

September 22 2003

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Sana'a, Sept. 21)Recently obtained information from official sources has revealed that 70 persons suspected to have links to al-Qaeda or its elements in Yemen would be released this week. These persons have pledged to respect rights of non-Muslim foreigners living in Yemen or visiting it.
They have also pledged not to attack foreign embassies and interests on Yemeni territories and to rescind their extremist ideas.
The state-run 26 September weekly newspaper published in its last Thursday issue that President Ali Abdullah Saleh had issued his orders to the government to finalize measures necessary for the release of 70 detainees out of 190 from among those returned from Afghanistan and others. The security bodies had arrested them following terrorist events that took place in Yemen. The President's directives come after a report sent to him by a religious scholars committee entrusted with holding dialogue with those elements in their detention places. The committee was formed according to directives by the President. Pursuant to present statistics there are around 190 persons detained at prisons in various governorates, while other information puts their number at more than 270 persons arrested on charges of their involvement in terrorist acts in Yemen and after the September 11, 2001 in America. Security authorities had, beginning of last August, released 34 persons out of 104 who were included in the first round dialogue. The second round of dialogue included 120 persons, 70 of whom expected to be set free after declaring their repentance and discarding extremism and terror. The persons who would be proved of their involvement in explosion incidents and acts of violence would be brought to justice during this month.
Official sources have not yet made it clear about fate of ten elements accused of being involved in blasting of the USS Destroyer Cole. The ten elements had managed to escape from their prison in Aden at the beginning of this year. The United States of America is still demanding Yemen to give details on trial proceeds of those accused of blasting Cole on 12 October 2000. On the other hand Yemen is still demanding America to hand over 110 of its nationals detained in Guantanamo.
A third unit from central security forces on fighting terror in rural areas had on Wednesday completed a training course on fighting terror. A ceremony for the unit graduation was held at a camp of the central security in Sana'a last Wednesday. U.S. Brigadier General Mastin M. Robeson, Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa, who attended the unit's graduation ceremony, had praised the distinguished performance of the unit for fighting terror. A number of American experts have participated in training, qualifying and supporting the establishment of special forces on fighting terror from Presidential Guard and Central Security forces, as part of cooperation with Yemen for fighting terror.