U.S. Ambassador’s attackers stand trial [Archives:2005/903/Front Page]

December 15 2005

By: Hassan Al-Zaidi
SANA'A, Dec.12)The Preliminary Court held its first session on Monday to trail two of the suspects involved in the assassination attempt on the former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen in December 2004.

The sitting was chaired by Judge Mohamed Al-Ba'adani and the trial proceeded in the presence of representatives from the U.S. Embassy. The Secretary of the Judge read out the indictment against defendants Hizam Ali Hassan Al-Mas and Khalid Saleh Hadi Al-Halilah.

The prosecution accused the two suspects of reaching an agreement to launch an offensive against the car of the U.S. Ambassador when it goes in Haddad Street escorted by a police vehicle. They learned that that former U.S. Ambassador used to shop from the Elegance and Beauty Shops in Haddah Street.

Defendant Hizam Al-Mas, 17, climbed the fence of the shop, attempted to enter with pistol, but was stopped by the guards of the building. He failed to attack the U.S. diplomat due to his quarrel with the policemen, and after the police opened fire on him, he fled the scene.

The prosecution representative said that three suspects are involved in the case; one of them was cleared off due to lack of material evidence. The first suspect made a confession before the judge saying he suffers from neurological disorders and that he masterminded the attack against the U.S. Ambassador out of his own will. He said while he was chewing qat on Friday 24th December, 2004, he decided to attack the U.S. Ambassador and then he went to Jihana in Khawlan Tribe on the car of the second suspect Khalid Al-Halilah and bought a pistol and two cartridges.

Asked how he knew that there was a very important personality in the car he targeted, his response was: “I noticed a white car with a diplomatic plate and on it was an important person with his wife. I plotted to attack the car, but one of the guards noticed me as I was climbing the fence and then I was shot by the policemen.”

“After they opened fire on me, I fled the scene and rode on a bus heading for Asser, west of the capital, but the bus was intercepted by a police vehicle and I was arrested,” he said.

“I was instigated and encouraged to launch the attack on the U.S. Ambassador by some Madawe'ah (bearded men) who say that the U.S. is the big enemy of Islam and Muslims and it occupied Iraq and killed Muslims. All this made me decide to attack the Americans.”

His response to what books he reads and cassettes he listens to was that he did nothing of these and he does not watch the television except in rare cases although he has a satellite in his house. He claimed that the T.V. and the space channels cause a big harm to the family, adding he was not instructed by any person except for once when he went with three of the callers to Islam. He said he did not remember their names.

The top defendant confirmed to the Judge that he is psychologically ill, and said he attempted several times to infiltrate into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia searching for work, but all his attempts have gone in vain.

Asked by the judge whether he has an opportunity or a plan to visit the U.S in search of work, he replied: “I will visit the U.S. and work there”.

The judge then documented confessions of the first suspect – with sound and photos – to be material evidence for his trials.

Second suspect khalid Al-Halilah, a secondary school student, affirmed that his work was merely a taxi driver and denied any charges directed at him. He told the court: “I was not with the first defendant when he launched the assassination attempt on the U.S. Ambassador, but I contacted him on Friday afternoon in his house, took the transportation fee and left. In my mind I bear no evil thoughts or hatred toward foreigners and Americans.”

In the court, the two defendants were accompanied by a person under the name of Khamis Al-Mulaiki who was sent from Guantanamo Detention after being accused of sending a kilogram of drugs to Yemen. Prior to this, he was arrested in Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo bay and then was sent once again from Guantanamo to Yemen to be tried. The judge ordered that he should be taken out from the dock as the trial was devoted to the suspects accused of carrying out the assassination attempt on the U.S. Ambassador.

Concluding the session, the court decided to enable the first suspect to confirm the authenticity of his appeals that he suffers from psychological and neurological diseases, as well as to enable the defendants to name their defense advocates to defend them in next Sunday's session.