Some extremists to be freed [Archives:2004/782/Front Page]

October 18 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Some extremist detainees are expected to be freed during the month of Ramdhan, official sources said. Judge Hamoud al-Hitar, head of the clerics committee dialoguing with extremists in Yemeni prisons said that it is expected that some of the detainees will be set free after they pledge to give up their radical and extremist views. Al-Hitar did not give the number of detainees to be set free as they have not been charged with any terrorist acts or crimes. The judge denied information that some militants of Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (AAIA) will be freed as a reward for their participation in the military operations against the anti-US killed cleric Hussein al-Huthi. The militants of AAIA are serving 15-20 year-terms in jail as after being convicted with the kidnapping of Western tourists in Abyan in December 1998, where some of the tourists were murdered in the confrontations between the extremist militants and the police. Al-Hitar pointed out that the dialogue with these convicted militants aim to “up-root the extremist views that pushed them to perpetrate the Abyan attack on the tourists.”
Yemen authorities have already released tens of militants who returned from Afghanistan. Some of the militants were convinced by the dialogue and pledged to relinquish al-Qaeda ideas, as clerics in the committee claimed, but some refused and challenged the clerics and their arguments.
Yemen has also tried extremist militants on charges of terrorist acts like the bombings of the USS Cole and French Tanker Limburg.
The Sana'a Penal Court sentenced on September 29th two al Qaeda militants to death and sentenced four others to prison terms ranging from five to ten years for the 2000 bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole which killed 17 sailors.
The same court sentenced on August 28th 15 defendants to terms ranging from three years to death for various terror plots and attacks. Those imprisoned for 10 years included five supporters of Al Qaeda for the 2002 bombing of the French supertanker Limburg in an attack similar to that on the Cole. The militant Hizam Mujali was sentenced to death after being convicted of fatally shooting a police officer at a checkpoint.