Thrown bomb causes panic near US embassy’s complexHigh alert [Archives:2003/655/Front Page]

July 31 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Sanaa, July 30 – The area around the US embassy in Sanaa has been witnessing tremendous security measures in the last few days, especially after a warning was issued by the US authorities to its nationals in Yemen about their personal security. The security measures reached their peak yesterday following a small incident that occurred Tuesday night about a mile away from the embassy's gate. According to a reporter near the scene, “two Yemenis seemed to have started a dispute, which later turned violent when one of them threw a bomb at the other's store, causing minor damage to some doors and shattering some windows, but resulting in no injuries. The person who threw the bomb was able to escape, while the police arrested for interrogation a store owner in the area.”
It was feared that the attack may have been an assault against the US embassy, but it turned out that it was a dispute among locals. Embassy staffers received many calls following the incident, signaling the sensitivity of the situation, which is ready to explode any minute because of the high level of alert due to possible risk of attacks against US interests in the country.
This comes after the US embassy in Sana'a warned US citizens in Yemen to be very cautious following Frankfort court's ruling concerning the turning over of Sheikh Mohammed al-Mouyad and his assistant to the US, which accuses them of being al-Qaeda's supporters.
“The Embassy of the United States wants to inform American citizens in Yemen that the German authorities have ruled in favor of the U.S. request to extradite Yemeni Sheik Mohamed Ali Hassan Al-Mouyad” the US message sent to all US citizens in Yemen and published on July 21 said. Al-Mouyad was arrested by German authorities last January on U.S. criminal charges of providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, namely, al-Qaeda and Hamas.
The embassy advised the US citizens living in Yemen to be on high alert all the time and “to pay particular attention to their personal security at all times. Americans should make it a point to keep a low profile, vary routes and times of travel, avoid large crowds and demonstrations.” They were also asked to “report any suspicious activity to the Embassy's Regional Security Office.” A reliable source at the US embassy told Yemen Times, however, that this advice made by the embassy is something normal and that no extraordinary security measures have been taken in the embassy and that the consular section is working normally.
In response to this concern by the US and German governments, the Yemeni authorities intensified security measures around the US and German embassies in Sana'a.
A Yemeni delegation representing the parliament and Shura council is still exerting efforts in Germany to get the two suspects released and returned home.
On the other hand, families of a number of detainees with terrorism charges appealed Tuesday to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to interfere and get their relatives in prisons of the intelligence released. In a press statement, they appealed to President Saleh to have their relatives released, as they have been in detention for 2 or 3 years. The statement cites the case of other detainees, with similar charges of having links to extremist groups or Al-Qaida network, who have been already released and compensated. The statement stressed that there were no clear charges set against the detainees. ” The detainees suffer psychological illnesses due to the detention,” the statement stressed.
Minister of Interior, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi said mid July that around 200 detainees will be sent to court soon and that 95 others were released. Among those who were released were some convinced by the clerics committee, set by president Saleh, to abandon their extremist views, abiding by law and order. Earlier last year, a parliament committee was set up to investigate into the situation of the detainees with regard to terrorism. International organizations criticized Yemeni government for violating human rights in its war against terrorism.