Yemen justifies 2002 assassinations [Archives:2004/706/Front Page]

January 26 2004

Yemen has revealed details that it cooperated with Washington in tracking and killing a suspected Al-Qaeda leader after US satellites picked up the vibrations of the man's voice, the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat said on Friday.
It quoted Yemeni Vice-President Abed Rabbo Mansur's comments on a missile attack on November 3, 2002 in which six Yemenis, said to be Al-Qaeda members, including one suspected of masterminding an operation against a US warship and a French oil tanker, were killed.
Agents of the US intelligence agency, the CIA, fired the missile by remote control from a Predator pilotless aircraft in east Yemen, destroying the vehicle carrying the six suspects.
Among those killed was Ali Qaed Sunian Al-Harthi, alias Abu Ali. He was suspected of being one of the ringleaders in the attack on October 12, 2000 against the warship USS Cole in the southern Yemen port of Aden in which 17 crew members died.
“This special operation targeted Abu Ali, an Al-Qaeda leader … who organised the explosion on the French oil tanker and whom we have hunted in vain for six months,” said Mansour.
The oil tanker Limburg was rammed by a small boat off the Yemeni coast in October 2002, causing an explosion which killed a Bulgarian seaman.
“That is why we coordinated with the Americans … who were able to detect and pinpoint Harthi thanks to satellites picking up the vibrations of his voice. We had no choice other than to cooperate with Washington because we don't have advanced technology, the vice-president added.
He added that Harthi used several phones and constantly changed them.
Yemen initially acknowledged on November 19, 2002 that it had cooperated in the missile attack with Washington,which views the country as an important partner in its “anti-terrorist war.”