Yemen invited to anti-terror conference [Archives:2005/813/Local News]

February 3 2005

By Peter Willems
Yemen Times Staff

The first global anti-terror conference will be held from February 5 to 8 in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Representatives from 49 countries are planning to attend.

Yemen, along with 14 other Arab countries, has been invited to participate in the forum. Delegates from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia will be at the conference, and officials from 14 Asian countries, including Japan, India, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, will also be attending.

A number of international organizations, such as the United Nations, Arab League, European Union, Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African Union, will have representatives participating in the conference.

“We have invited all countries that have suffered from terrorism to the conference and all have agreed to take part,” said Prince Turki ibn Muhammad, Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs at Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry.

Saudi officials have said that the aim of the conference is to pull international efforts together to fight terror. Discussions will include the roots of terrorism, relations between terrorism and drugs, the culture of terrorism, and the links between terrorism and smuggling arms and money laundering.

“It looks like the conference will be an important step to fighting terrorism worldwide,” said a foreign diplomat based in Yemen. “A more coordinated effort could make a big difference in fighting terror, especially now that terrorism is a threat worldwide.”

Since May 2003, over 150 people have been killed resulting from terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities hold the Al-Qaeda international terrorist network responsible for the recent increase of attacks. It is estimated that the threat of worldwide terror has risen since the attack in Washington, D.C., and New York on September 11, 2001.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of the alleged mastermind of the Al-Qaeda network Osama bin Laden, joined the United States to fight terrorism soon after the attacks on US soil nearly three and a half years ago. Hundreds of terror suspects have been rounded up, including key Al-Qaeda members.

After three months of fighting, Yemeni forces defeated armed followers of radical Muslim cleric Hussein Al-Houthi in the of north Yemen last year. The last significant terrorist attack in Yemen was the bombing of the French oil tanker Limburg near the port of Mukalla in October 2002 which killed one crewmember and unloaded 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden.

In August, a Yemeni court jailed five men convicted of being involved in the attack for ten years. Nine others were also sentenced to prison terms for plotting to attack Western embassies while one was sentenced to death, convicted of killing a Yemeni police officer. The Yemeni appeals court will announce the final verdicts of the suspects on February 5.

The appeals court said last month that the verdicts of militants found guilty and sentenced to death or prison terms last September for the bombing of the USS Cole is scheduled to take place on February 26.

The US destroyer was attacked in October 2000 as it was refueling in the port of Aden. Two men attacked the destroyer in a dinghy loaded with 500 pounds of explosives killing 17 US sailors and wounding 33 others.

Yemeni judicial sources said recently that 826 terror suspects will be put on trial in the near future.

Twenty six of the extremists are reported to be alleged Al-Qaeda members who were involved in the Limburg bombing. Two of the suspects are said to have been extradited from Saudi Arabia and one from Kuwait in 2004.

The other 800 suspects belong to the organization called “The Believing Youth” which was established by Al-Houthi.