ATbar The Global Jihad - The Yemeni Connection

The Global Jihad - The Yemeni Connection

20/03/2006 | by Maliach, Assaf (Dr.)  

Scores of al-Qaida members are currently on trial in Yemen on suspicion of planning and perpetrating terrorist attacks against Yemenis officials and Western targets both in Yemen and abroad. Unfortunately, the escape of 23 al-Qa'ida members from the maximum security prison in Sana at the beginning of February overshadows this important chapter in the war on terrorism.

This article is examines the Yemeni connection to worldwide Islamic terrorism, the involvement of Yemeni Muslim volunteers in the war in Iraq, and the measures taken by the Yemeni government to combat this terrorism. In addition, this article will track the recent developments in the trials of the Al-Qa'ida members.

The Afghan Civil War

North Yemen, lead by President 'Ali 'Abdullah Salih, served as one of the primary sources of volunteers for the Afghan Jihad during the 1980s. In contrast, Marxist South Yemen, under the leadership of the Yemeni Socialist Party, stood behind the incumbent Communist regime in Afghanistan and funneled all its energy into preventing Yemeni volunteers from embarking for Afghanistan. The British periodical Jane's Intelligence Review estimates that as many as 3,000 Yemeni volunteers participated in the war in Afghanistan, some of whom took part in the actual fighting while others aided from the hinterland. [1]

Unlike Egypt, North Yemen - and later the United Republic of Yemen (beginning in May 1990) - welcomed with open arms its sons, the Afghan Alumni who desired to return home following the end of the war and the fall of the Communist regime in Kabul in 1992. The returning Yemenis found refuge under the Islamic-oriented opposition party, the Yemeni Islah Party, whose roots can be traced to the tribal Hashid confederation in North Yemen, headed by the Sheikh 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, himself an Afghan Alumnus and close companion of 'Abdullah 'Azzam and Osama bin Ladin. In 1993, al-Zindani entered Yemeni politics and, following Yemeni parliamentary elections held that year, became a member of the unified Yemeni government. Yemen also served as a transit station for various Afghan Alumni, most notably Egyptians, who wished to return to their homelands following the war. Senior officials in Yemen and Egypt recognized that throughout 1993 several Egyptian leaders of the Afghan Alumni resided in Yemen and were involved in the attempted assassinations of Egyptian Prime Minister 'Atef Sidqi in November 1993 and President Husni Mubarak in his June 1995 visit to Ethiopia.[2]

The outbreak of civil war in the United Republic of Yemen in June 1994 placed the Afghan Alumni on the side of the Sana government (previously of North Yemen) headed by President 'Ali 'Abdullah Salih. This group harbored an intense abhorrence towards Marxism and Communism and lent their help in toppling the "infidel" Marxist-Muslim regime that ruled the southern region of the United Republic. Sheikh Tariq al-Fadli, head of the Yemeni organization Islamic Jihad and foster son of al-Zindani, revealed that Osama bin Ladin sponsored part of the assassination operations against senior Yemeni-Marxists and, as early as the 1980s, was a partner in the idea to overthrow the South Yemen regime.[3] During the 1990s, in addition to subsidizing terrorist activity inside Yemen, primarily in order to end the foreign presence in the country, bin Ladin established in Sa'da (northern Yemen) several training camps for al-Qa'ida members and other Yemeni, Saudi, Iraqi, Egyptian, Libyan, and Jordanian Islamic fundamentalists. He also donated funds for the establishment of the Islamic university in Ta'iz and fostered strong links with Tariq al-Fadli, 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, and other radical Islamic leaders, some of whom he met during the war in Afghanistan.[4]

Sheikh Tariq al-Fadli's organization assassinated numerous senior members of the Yemeni Socialist Party following the unification of Yemen and was involved in the December 1992 terrorist attacks against two hotels in 'Aden housing American soldiers. Fadli also took part in Yemeni politics after joining the governing party headed by 'Ali 'Abdullah Salih.[5]

In later years, calm was restored to Yemeni society and it appeared that the Islamic fundamentalist factor had ceased to present a substantial threat to the existing order. However, the Sana government refused to fulfill two of the primary demands of the Afghan Alumni: that they be allowed to enlist in the Yemeni army and that they be granted freedom of action in southern Yemen. As a result of the government's refusal to answer their demands, in July 1994 harsh fighting broke out between Afghan Alumni and government forces in the harbor city of 'Aden. The militants were defeated, and either arrested or expelled from Yemen.

In the next two years, those that succeeded in evading the security forces established the Islamic 'Aden-Abyan Army, led by Zayn al-'Abidin al-Mihdar, another Afghan Alumnus. This organization proclaimed itself the heir of the Yemeni Islamic Jihad and a key ally of Osama bin Ladin. Its members established training camps in the Abyan province in southern Yemen and called for the creation of an Islamic Caliphate in Yemen and for the expulsion of the American and British presence from the Arabian Peninsula in general and from Yemen in particular. The 'Aden-Abyan Army instigated kidnapping and terrorist attacks against foreigners in Yemen in order to release its members from prison, to damage the national economy that fed on tourism and to expel foreigners from the country.

The Islamic 'Aden-Abyan Army also collaborated with al-Qa'ida in the suicide bombing attack against the USS Cole in October 2000 in the 'Aden harbor, an attack that killed 17 US Navy sailors in addition to the two suicide bombers, both Afghan Alumni. The Islamic 'Aden-Abyan Army received financial support from Abu British Muslim leader Hamza al-Masri and from Osama bin Ladin, [6] who already in his August 23, 1996 declaration of war declared that the presence of Mujahideen in southern Yemen represented a strategic threat to the "Zionist-Crusader alliance" in the region.[7]

The Role of Yemeni Volunteers in the Insurgency in Iraq

Khaldoun al-Hakimi, a 29-year old resident of 'Aden, was one of ten key suspects implicated in the terrorist attacks against the USS Cole in October 2000. On April 11, 2003, he escaped from the security prison in his hometown, was caught, imprisoned for eight months and then released. On July 19, 2005 he perpetrated a suicide attack against coalition forces in Iraq. One day prior to the attack another resident of 'Aden, Salih Mana, 28, perpetrated a similar suicide attack in Iraq.[8] On November 1, 2005 allied forces arrested two Yemeni citizens that were on an intelligence reconnaissance mission for Al-Qa'ida south of Baghdad. [9]

US intelligence officials confirmed that Yemeni-Muslim volunteers comprise part of the organized Iraqi insurgency opposing American forces in Iraq, along with volunteers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other countries around the world (including some Afghan Alumni). These volunteers, arriving in Iraq both before and after the American-led invasion, trained in training camps in Iraq, some of which were located close to Baghdad. [10]

A recent study conducted by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that 17% of foreign fighters in Iraq are citizens of Yemen. This figure does not include fighters of other nationalities who were trained in Yemen. According the Al-Thawry newspaper, twenty suicide bombings were perpetrated by Yemenis in Iraq.[11]

Much as was the case in Afghanistan, in the Iraq too, Muslim clerics played a decisive role in the recruitment of Muslim volunteers for Jihad. A prominent Yemeni figure who facilitated the arrival of Muslim volunteers in general-and Yemeni nationals in particular-to Iraq was Sheikh 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani,[12] the head of the northern Yemeni tribal Hashid confederation, head of the Shura (advisory) Council of the Yemeni Islah Party, member of the Muslim Brotherhood and founder of the religious al-Iman University in Sana. As already mentioned, 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani was a close friend of 'Abdullah 'Azzam and Osama bin Ladin. He was also known as a prominent recruiter of both volunteers and funds for the Afghan Jihad. Today, both the United States and the United Nations Security Council are demanding that Yemen arrest him and confiscate his assets, but so far to no avail.[13]

A Convenient Operational Base for Al-Qa'ida and Iraqi Veterans[14]

That Osama bin Ladin viewed Yemen-particularly southern Yemen-as being of strategic importance in the war against the "Zionist-Crusader alliance" was illustrated in a series of indictments recently submitted to a Yemeni court in the trial of al-Qa'ida members. The indictments detail a set of terrorist attacks perpetrated by the accused both inside and outside Yemen in recent years, as well as attacks in the planning stages.

As early as August 8, 2005, six months before the most recent series of trials, a Yemeni court sentenced six members of al-Qa'ida's "Kata'ib al-Tawheed" ("Unification Battalions") to prison terms of two to four years. The men-one Iraqi, three Yemenis and two Syrians-were convicted of plotting attacks against the Italian and British embassies, in addition to the French Cultural Center in Sana. Two other accused Yemenis were acquitted because of lack of evidence. According to the indictment, the group also planned to attack various military bases in Saudi Arabia, as well as American citizens, western companies, restaurants and schools in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[15]

On February 14, 2006, the trial of Ghalib al-Zaydi, 28, and Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal (Abu 'Asim al-Macci), 35, opened in Sana. Al-Ahdal, a Yemeni of Saudi origin who served as al-Qa'ida's financial officer in Yemen, was one of the plotters of the USS Cole attacks. The indictment against the two claims that al-Ahdal, believed to be the number two al-Qa'ida figure in Yemen after Abu 'Ali Qa'id Sinan al-Harithi, received sums of $44,000 and 1,061,500 Saudi Riyal from Kamal Abu Hijazi, al-Qa'ida's former financial officer in Yemen, who is considered to be one of the senior members of the organization. In addition, Abu 'Ali al-Harithi transferred to al-Ahdal 50,000 Saudi Riyal received from Osama bin Ladin, allegedly in order to acquire weapons and explosive material in order to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Yemen.

Al-Ahdal, who admitted to receiving large sums of money from "external agents", denied that the money was intended for terrorist operations. He claims that he transferred money every three months to Yemeni families whose sons were imprisoned in Yemeni security prisons or in the Guantanamo prison camp, as well as to families whose sons were killed during the Yemeni civil war of 1994 or the wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The indictment also charges al-Ahdal with recruiting funds for al-Qa'ida terrorist activity in Yemen, amongst others, under the guise of donations to the Caucasus Charitable Society that he headed.[16] Al-Ahdal is also standing trial for the deaths of 19 Yemeni military and security personnel and the injury of 29 others, in addition to the destruction of property, all of which occurred while he was on the run, between the years 2000 and 2003.[17]

On February 14, another trial commenced in Sana, this time of three Yemeni citizens extradited from the United States to Yemen after being imprisoned in the Guantanamo prison camp for over three-and-a-half years. The three were accused of aiding members of al-Qa'ida in passport and identity fraud, but were freed after the judge determined that their sentence was sufficiently served in the American prison.[18]

On February 22, also in Sana, 17 individuals (12 Yemenis and five Saudis) went on trial on charges of being sent by Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi to perpetrate attacks against western targets and against Yemeni and American figures in Yemen between 2004-2005.[19] The group allegedly intended, among other things, to assassinate the US ambassador in Sana, Thomas Krajeski, to assassinate Yemeni President 'Ali 'Abdullah Salih and to bomb a hotel in the port city of 'Aden (probably the Sheraton Hotel). [20] The indictment charges that the defendants were found to be in possession of a significant amount of weapons, including a Kalashnikov rifle, an RPG rocket launcher, a Bazooka rocket launcher and anti-tank missiles. Also found were explosive material, electronic components intended for long-range detonation of explosives, a personal computer, three laptops, large sums of money and forged documents intended for use during their stay in Yemen and the perpetration of attacks. [21] Two of the defendants argued, that the weapons and the equipment found in their apartments were used for training young fighters prior to joining the Jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq. [22]

The indictment reveals that some of the defendants admitted to successfully infiltrating into Iraq and take part in attacks against American targets, but denied any involvement in an armed and organized group inside Yemen. Furthermore, several members of the group are accused of meeting in Iraq, where they received their forged passports and identity cards, from whence they moved to Syria, which served as a transit station on their way back to Yemen. The defendants said they used fraudulent identity documents due to fears that they would be arrested following their return from Iraq. 'Ali 'Abdullah Naji al-Harithi (Abu 'Ali), leader of the group, argued during his testimony that he returned from Iraq with the electronic components seized found in his possession in light of the declaration of the United States presidential candidate John Kerry that the United States would attack Saudi Arabia and Yemen immediately following the end of the war in Iraq. He said that the failure of Kerry in the presidential elections caused him to pass on the components to the head of the Yemeni national security apparatus, Ghalib al-Qamsh. In contrast al-Harithi (a.k.a. "Little Abu 'Ali") was not at all influenced by the results of the US elections. According to the indictment, he was determined to avenge the death of Abu 'Ali Qa'id al-Harithi, al-Qa'ida's leader in Yemen and one of the plotters of the suicide attack against the USS Cole, who was killed in the Marib desert on November 3, 2002 in an American missile attack.[23]

In the meantime, on February 27, 'Abed 'Abd al-Razzak Kamil, a student from the religious al-Iman University, was executed for the December 2002 murder of three American missionary doctors in the southern Yemen village of Jibla. Even though the Yemeni government argued that Kamil was not directly linked to al-Qa'ida, they noted that he advocated support for the organization and preached militant Jihad. Along with his partner 'Ali Jarallah al-Sawani, who was executed earlier this year, Kamil planned to murder senior Yemeni figures in addition to foreigners present on Yemeni soil.[24]

The activities of al-Qa'ida members and Iraqi Veterans inside Yemen would not have been possible without the support they received from not a few senior members of the Yemeni security and military establishment, and not less important, from the local population. Military commentator James Dunnigan recently wrote that "There are many al Qaeda sympathizers in the Yemeni military and government." Ahmad 'Abdullah al-Hasani, former Yemeni ambassador to Syria and former commander of the Yemeni navy fleet, who recently requested political asylum in Britain, declared that al-Qa'ida figures hold senior positions in the Yemeni military and security forces.[25]

Yasser al-Awadi, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary bloc of the ruling General People's Congress Party, said Yemenis are largely sympathetic with the militants as a matter of Muslim solidarity and because the West-the United States in particular-has undercut its standing with unpopular policies in the region. He cited the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. He emphasized that "Even those who do not openly pray for bin Laden's triumph over the Americans do so in their hearts."[26]

The Great Escape

On February 3, 2006 twenty-three convicted al-Qa'ida members succeeded in escaping from the maximum security prison in Sana, probably with the help of four prison guards, after successfully digging an underground tunnel to the nearest mosque, where several getaway vehicles awaited them. Thirteen of the escapees were imprisoned because of their involvement in the USS Cole attack in October 2000 and in the October 2002 attack against the French oil tanker Limburg. For some of the escapees, this was their second escape attempt. So far, only five of the escapees have turned themselves in. [27]

The prison escape was a huge embarrassment for the Yemeni regime. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan expressed great disappointment and promised that the US and its allies would not cease to pursue these "dangerous terrorists".[28]

An anonymous Western diplomat noted that the escape raises doubts regarding the decisiveness and ability of the Yemeni regime to fight against Islamic terrorism. This official joined other European and American security officials in noting that, although the Yemeni regime has declared its intentions to fight terrorism, in practice it prefers not to enter into a heads-on confrontation with radical Islamists. This stance can be seen in the limited Yemeni response to the escape, its inadequate cooperation with Interpol in the pursuit of the escapees, and earlier in the development of a program through which Muslim religious intellectuals attempted to influence radicals imprisoned in Yemen to repent and adopt more moderate perspectives. In the framework of the same program, several hundred radicals were released, some of whom ultimately volunteered to fight in Iraq.

Yet another diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, argued that those same volunteers later returned to Yemen and established a network that recruited young Yemenis in various mosques and universities for the worldwide Islamic Jihad.[29]

Other doubts regarding the Yemeni regime's resolve to combat terrorism surfaced when it became known that, out of 144 bank accounts in Yemen belonging to al-Qa'ida and the Taliban, only one account was frozen. The financial and propagandist activities of 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, who is considered by the US as a "Major Terrorist", were not blocked even following the American demand to arrest him and seize his assets.[30]

In the meantime, Rashad al-'Alimi, Yemeni deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, confirmed that Yemen is holding 172 detainees affiliated with al-Qa'ida, 34 of whom planned on traveling to Iraq. Al-'Alimi did not mention if the 23 escapees are included in the 172 prisoners. According to him, Yemen recently extradited 69 suspects of terror to Saudi Arabia, some of whom also planned on traveling to Iraq.[31]

Summary and Conclusions

The Yemeni connection to worldwide Islamic terrorism stretches back nearly two decades; its roots can be traced to the war in Afghanistan during the 1980s between the Afghan rebels and the pro-Soviet Communist regime backed by Soviet military forces. During this war thousands of Muslim volunteers from all over the world, especially Arab countries (including Yemen), came to fight alongside their Afghan brothers. The war served these volunteers as a university for the study of radical Islam and prepared them, mentally and physically for the violent confrontation with the "infidel" West and with the Muslim regimes that cooperate with it. The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan "proved" to them that the power of faith in Islam conquers all other forms of power.

The Afghan Veterans returned to Yemen during the early 1990s, convinced both of their ability to eliminate the remnants of the Communist Muslim regime in the southern region of the United Yemen and of their capacity to expel the foreign presence from Yemeni soil. They formed an alliance with the northern Sana government against the remnants of the southern Communist regime in the hope of being allowed to enlist in the Yemeni army and freely operate in southern Yemen, in order better to expel the American and British presence from Yemen. After these demands were rejected, the Afghan Veterans established radical Islamic organizations that began to undermine the Yemeni regime and perpetrate terrorist attacks against western targets inside Yemen and against senior Yemeni figures suspected of collaborating with the West. Soon these organizations began to cooperate with al-Qa'ida and even received financial support from it.

The involvement of Yemeni volunteers in the Iraqi war was just a matter of time. Just as in Afghanistan, Yemenis comprise a significant component of the Muslim volunteers in Iraq. However, in contrast to the Afghan case, this time the Yemeni regime made it more difficult for them to leave for Iraq; nor was the government pleased to accept them upon their return. As a result, Iraqi veterans and subsequent alumni of Afghan training camps, including the Yemenis, were forced to return to Yemen under false identities. Very quickly the concerns of the Yemeni government were confirmed: the return of Iraqi alumni to Yemen brought with it a wave of terrorist attacks that may threaten the stability in the country. Iraqi veterans, some of whom are members of al-Qa'ida, view Yemen as a convenient ground for the fostering of radical Islamic ideologies and as a target for terrorist attacks against the foreign presence in the region.

Although the success in bringing scores of Iraqi veterans-mostly al-Qa'ida members-to court, one must remember that their activities would not have been possible without support from the local population and from elements in the Yemeni military and security apparatuses. Another factor that enabled their activity was the Yemeni regime's preference to avoid a head-on confrontation with radical Islamists. This can be clearly seen in the slow and partial response of the regime to the escape of twenty-three members of al-Qa'ida from the maximum security prison in Sana and in the inadequate cooperation with Interpol agents in their capture.

The success in the war on worldwide Islamic terrorism is largely dependent on the degree of cooperation by Muslim countries with the West and in their decisiveness to fight such terrorism without fear of confronting it. The war on worldwide Islamic terrorism cannot be left only to the West but must be primarily a mission of the same Muslim regimes that are considered "infidels" in the eyes of the Muslim radicals. This war must take place not only in the struggle against the radicals themselves but also against the support of elements within the country.


[1]James, Bruce, "Arab Veterans of the Afghan War", Jane's Intelligence Review, Section: Middle East, Vol. 7, No. 4, (April 1995), p. 175; JIR estimated that overall, close to 14,000 Arab Muslims participated in the war in Afghanistan: 5,000 Saudis, 3,000 Yemenis, 2,800 Algerians, 2,000 Egyptians, 400 Tunisians, 370 Iraqis, 200 Libyans and several scores of Jordanians.

[2] Al-Sadiq, Al-Sulami, "Al-Watan tanshuru al-qissah al-kamilah lil-muqatileen al-Yamaniyeen fi Afghanistan (1-2)" ["Al-Watan Newspaper Publishes the Full Story of the Yemeni Warriors in Afghanistan (1-2)"], al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), (December 17, 2001). Al-Sulami wrote that Egyptian intelligence succeeded in 1993 in eavesdropping on numerous phone conversations between Ayman al-Zawahiri, then in Yemen, and members of his organization in Egypt, in which he instructed them to perpetrate terrorist attacks inside Egypt; Bruce, Ibid, p. 178. Journalist James Bruce, who has covered Middle East affairs for over twenty years, noted that 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani had a large part in influencing Afghan Alumni to arrive in Yemen, where in the early 1990s a noticeable rise in the Islamic awakening took place; Nash'at, 'Abd al-Maajid, "Mumarasat harakat al-Afghan al-'Arab wa-kharitat al-'unf al-siyasi" ("The Arab Afghans' Movement Experiences and the Political Violence Map"), IslamOnLine, (October 7, 2001); Sean, Boyne, "Islamic Leader threatens revenge", Jane's Intelligence Review, Section: News and Analysis, Vol. 11, No. 6, June 1999, p. 5; Shaul, Shay, The Terror triangle in the Red Sea, (Herzliya: IDC, 2004), p. 115 (Hebrew version). The orientalist Shaul Shay noted that in the beginning of the 1990s al-Zindani was one of the key figures in the consolidation of radical Islam in Yemen.

[3] "Akada ihbat muhawalat tafjir sabiqah bi-tamwil min za'im al-Qa'ida wa-itlaf malaffat al-tahqiq" ("Emphasized the Thwarting of Previous Bombing Attempts Sponsored by Leader of Al-Qai'da and obstruction in the Investigative Files"), al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), (October 19, 2001); Al-Sulami, Ibid; 'Abd al-Maajid, Ibid; B., Raman, "Attack on USS Cole: Background", ICT Articles, (October 16, 2000); Bruce, Ibid.

[4] 'Abdullah, al-Hajj, "12 alf mutatarif yar'ahum Bin Ladin fi al-Yaman" ("12 thousand radicals receive patronage from Bin Ladin in Yemen"), al-Ahram al-'Arabi (Egypt), (April 5, 1997), pp. 26-27; Nabil, Sharaf al-Din, Bin Ladin - Taliban. al-Afghan al-'Arab wa-al-Umamiyyah al-Usuliyyah (Bin Ladin - Taliban. the Arab Afghans and the Fanatical Internationale), (Cairo: Maktabat Madbuli, 2002), p. 38; Scott, Macleod, "The Paladin of Jihad", Time, Vol. 147, No. 19, (May 6, 1996), p. 52; Shay, Ibid, pp. 115-118.

[5] Al-Sulami, Ibid; 'Abd al-Maajid, Ibid; Bruce, Ibid.

[6] Al-Sulami, Ibid; Bruce, Ibid; Esther, Webman, "It Was Written on the Wall - Usama Bin Ladin, the Man and his Deeds", Data and Analysis Series, (Tel Aviv: The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 2002), p. 23 (Hebrew version); Peter, Bergen, "Bin Laden's warning. Smoke Signals", The New Republic, (September 24, 2001), p. 22; Raman, Ibid; Sean, Boyne, "Islamic Leader threatens revenge", Jane's Intelligence Review, Section: News and Analysis, Vol. 11, No. 6, (June 1999), p. 5; Yoram, Schweitzer and Shaul Shay, An Expected Surprise, (Herzliya: IDC, 2002), p. 111; Yossef, Bodansky, Bin Laden - The Man Who Declared War on America, (California: Prima, 1999), p. 374; Zayn al-'Abidin al-Mihdar was executed on October 17, 1999 for the kidnapping and murder of 16 foreign citizens in Yemen in December 1998 and for the establishment of a radical Islamic organization whose objective was to threaten the security of Yemen; For review of the prominent terror attacks in the Yemeni arena, beginning with the attacks against two hotels in 'Aden on December 29, 1992 and until the murder of the three American doctors on December 30, 2002, see, Shay, Ibid, pp. 124-133.

[7] Usama, Bin Ladin, "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places - Expel the Infidels from the Arab Peninsula", Azzam Publications, (March 20, 2000).

[8] "2 min al- 10 al-farrin min sijn al-amn al-siyasi bi-'Aden nafdhaa hujumayni fi al-'Iraq" ("2 out of 10 Escapees from the Political Security Prison in 'Aden Perpetrated Two Attacks in Iraq"), al-Ayyam (Sana), (July 30, 2005), p. 1; "Deep-rooted militancy shadows Yemen", Yemen Observer (Sana), (February 21, 2006).

[9] "Two Yemenis arrested in Iraq for suspicion of links to Al-Qaeda", Yemen Times, (November 4, 2005).

[10] "Deep-rooted militancy shadows Yemen", Ibid; "Yemenis, part of Iraqi resistance", Yemen Times (Yemen), (June 14, 2005); "Yemenis in Jihad", Yemen Times (Yemen), (February 23, 2006).

[11] Jane, Novak, "Yemen's criminal enterprise", Yemen Times, (November 10, 2005).

[12] "Yemenis, part of Iraqi resistance", Ibid.

[13] "Al-Sheikh 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani ya'tabiru al-talab al-Amriki bi-i'tiqalihi istikhfaf bi-istiqlal al-Yaman wa-i'tida' 'ala siyadatiha wa-yatlubu al-hukumah al-qiyam bi-wajibiha fi al-difa''an muwatineeha" ("Sheikh 'Abd al-Majid al-Zandani Considers the American Request for his Arrest as a Ridicule of Yemeni Independence and as an Assault on its Sovereignty and Demands the Government to Fulfill its Obligation to Defend its Citizens"), Yemeni Islah Party, (February 25, 2006).

[14] The term "Iraqi Veterans" refers to both Arab and non-Arab Muslim volunteers who arrived in Iraq with the goal of repelling coalition forces. Following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime some of them joined the Iraqi Mujahideen, some of whom are al-Qai'da members led by Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, who continue their efforts to repel coalition forces from Iraq. Some of them either returned to their countries of origin or fled to other countries and thus received the label Iraqi Veterans.

[15] Khaled, al-Mahdi, "Yemen Jails Six Al-Qaeda Men for Plotting Attacks", Arab News, (August 9, 2005).

[16] Muhammad Fari', al-Shaybani, "Al-Muttaham al-Ahdal: al-mabaaligh saraftu li-'awa'il Yamaniyeen Shuhada' fi harb 1994 wa-Afghanistan wa-al-Shishan wa-al-Bosna wa-al-Hersek" ("The Accused al-Ahdal: I Invested the Money in Yemeni Families of the Martyrs of the Wars of 1994, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia-Herzegovina"), al-Ayyam (Sana), (February 28, 2006), p. 8; "Trial begins for Al-Qaeda's number two man in Yemen", Yemen Times, (February 14, 2006); "Yamaniyun 'a'idun min al-'Iraq khatatu li-tafjir funduq 'Aden wa-ightiyal al-safir al-Amriki" ("Yemenis that Returned from Iraq Planned to Bomb Hotel 'Aden and Murder the American Ambassador"), Al-Bayyinah (Hizbullah in Iraq), (February 25, 2006); "Yemen puts senior al Qaeda suspect on trial", Reuters, (February 13, 2006); al-Ahdal fought in Chechnya and in Afghanistan and following the amputation of one of his legs he began dealing with funding Al-Qai'da terrorist operations, see, Mohamed, Bin Sallam, "Yemeni Al-Qaeda suspects transferred to court", Yemen Times, (January 24, 2006).

[17] "Ta'jil muhaakamat 17 yashtabihu fi intima'ihim lil-Qa'ida bi-al-Yaman" ("The Delay of the Trial of 17 Suspects of Belonging to al-Qa'ida in Yemen"), al-Jazeera, (February 20, 2006).

[18] Bin Sallam, Ibid; Khalid, al-Hamadi, "San'a: tanfidh al-i'dam fi qaatil al-'atiba' al-Amrikiyeen wa-tabri'at thalaathah muttahameen 'a'ideen min Ghwaantanaamu" ("Sana: the execution of the murderer of the American doctors and the exculpation of three suspects that returned from Guantanamo"), al-Quds al-Arabi, (February 28, 2006), p. 1; "Yemen puts senior al Qaeda suspect on trial", Ibid.

[19] Riyad, al-Sami'i, "17 Yamaniyan wa-Sa'udiyan yumathiluna amam al-qada' bi-tuhmat tashkil 'isabah musallahah li-darb masalih wa-shakhsiyat Amrikiyyah fi al-Yaman bi-tawjih min al-Zarqawi" ("17 Yemenis and Saudis are Standing Trial Accused of Forming an Armed Group that Planned to Attack American Figures and Interests in Yemen Under the Guidance of al-Zarqawi"), Raynews (Yemen), (February 22, 2006); "17 muttahaman baynahum 5 Sa'udiyeen wa-'a'ideen min al-'Iraq tuwajjihu al-juz'iyyah lahum tuhmat al-takhtit li-qatl Amrikiyeen fi al-Yaman intiqaman lil-Harithi" ("17 suspects among them 5 Saudis and returnees from Iraq accused of plotting to kill Americans in Yemen in revenge for the killing of al-Harithi"), al-Sahwa (Yemen), (February 22, 2006); The twelve Yemeni defendants are: 'Ali 'Abdallah Naji al-Harithi (Abu 'Ali) (28), Jamal Sayf 'Abdallah al-Makrami (Abu 'Ubaydah) (38) - Abu 'Ali's right hand man, Ahmad Hazzam Muhammad al-Zahiri (Abu Mu'adh) (24), 'Abdallah Hasan Ahmad al-'Ibadi (Abu Muslim) (38), 'Ali Muhammad 'Umar 'Abdallah al-Bakri al-Kurdi (Abu Isra'il) (39), 'Abdallah Ahmad Muhammad al-Shajara (Abu al-Battar) (24), 'Ammar 'Abdallah Muhammad Fadil (Abu 'Asim) (28), Bandar 'Umar Hajjar al-Hasani (Aws) (24), Musa'id Muhammad Ahmad al-Barbari (27), Muhammad Sa'id Fari' al-Kabshi (Abu Ibrahim) (24), Muhammad Mabkhut 'Arfaj Hadban (Wajh al-Khayr) (30), Hasan 'Abdallah Muhsin al-Bayli (36). The five Saudi defendants are: Majid Ahmad Sa'id al-Zahrani (Abu Ahmad) (26), Muhammad Musayfar Raziq al-Qurashi (Abu 'Asim) (27), Muhsin Mubarak Mabkhut Bal'id (Abu Khattab) (19), Sa'id 'Abd al-Ghani Muhammad al-Balushi (Abu Muhannad) (26), Muhammad Fallah 'Ali Muqbil al-Qahtani (Abu Malik al-'Aryani) (22), see, Muhammad Fari', al-Shaybani, "Muttaham: al-Zarqawi arsalana ila al-Yaman kadhb… laqad darrabtu al-shabab li-yadhhabu ila al-'Iraq lil-Jihad" ("Accused: al-Zarqawi sent us to Yemen is a lie… I trained the guys in order for them to go to Iraq for the Jihad"), al-Ayyam (Sana), (February 23-24, 2006), p. 1.

[20] An interview with Thomas Krajeski on CNN, AMERICAN MORNING, (January 25, 2006); "Yemenis that Returned from Iraq Planned to Bomb Hotel 'Aden and Murder the American Ambassador", Ibid.

[21] "17 suspects among them 5 Saudis and returnees from Iraq accused of plotting to kill Americans in Yemen in revenge for the killing of al-Harithi", Ibid; al-Sami'i, Ibid; "Bad' muhaakamat 17muttahaman bi-tashkil 'isaabah musallahah tabi' lil-Zarqawi" ("The Trial of 17 Accused of Forming an Armed Group Belonging to al-Zarqawi has Begun"),, (February 22, 2006); According to one of the defendants, the weapons were intended for their training prior their departure to Iraq, see, Muhammad Fari', al-Shaybani, "Al-Muttaham al-'awwal: nahnu la na'rifu ba'duna al-ba'd amma al-'i'tiraafaat fahiya min al-ta'dhib" ("The First Defendant: We Do Not Know Each Other and Regarding the Confessions They Were Forced Under Torture"), al-Ayyam (Sana), (March 2, 2006) p. 8.

[22]"Al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen admit training Iraq fighters", Yemen Observer, (March 4, 2006).

[23] Al-Sami'i, Ibid; al-Shaybani, "Accused: al-Zarqawi sent us to Yemen is a lie… I trained the guys in order for them to go to Iraq for the Jihad"; "17 suspects among them 5 Saudis and returnees from Iraq accused of plotting to kill Americans in Yemen in revenge for the killing of al-Harithi", Ibid; "The Trial of 17 Accused of Forming an Armed Group Belonging to al-Zarqawi has Begun", Ibid.

[24] Mohammed, Al-Asadi, "Killer of American Missionaries Executed", Yemen Observer, (February 27, 2006).

[25] Novak, Ibid.

[26]"Deep-rooted militancy shadows Yemen", Ibid.

[27] Adel, Al-Haddad, "23 Al-Qaeda suspects escape from Political Security Prison", Yemen Times, (February 4, 2006); "Al-Tahqiq ma'a 4 min rijal al-'amn yushtabahu bi-tawatu'ihim fi hurub a'da' al-Qa'ida" ("The investigation of four security officials suspected of aiding the escape of Al-Qai'da members"), Raynews (Yemen), (March 1, 2006); "Faroon min sijn al-'amn al-siyaasi bi-San'a yusallimuna anfusahum bi-Hadramawt" ("The escapees from the political security prison in Sana turn themselves in to police in Hadramawt"),al-Ayyam (Sana), (March 7, 2006), p. 1; "Deep-rooted militancy shadows Yemen", Ibid. The official list of the suspected prisoners as distributed by the Ministry of Interior consisted only of 22 names, excluding Hamdi al-Ahdal. The names are: Jamal Muhammad al-Badawi (one of the masterminds of the USS Cole bombing in 'Aden), Yaser Naser al-Homikani, Muhammad Sa'eed al-Omda, Fawzi Muhammad al-Wajeh, Zakria Hasen al-Baihani, Abd al-Rahman Ahmad Basora, Abdullah Ahmad al-Remi, Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeai (leader of the group that perpetrated the attack against the French oil tanker), Hizam Saleh Mugli, Zakria Hasen al-Baihani, Abd al-Rahman Ahmad Basurah, Ibrahim Muhammad al-Hoidi, Ibrahim Muhammad al-Mukri, 'Arif Saleh Mugli, Shafik Ahmed Zaid, Jaber al-Bana, Hamza Salem al-Kuaiti, 'Umar Sa'eed Jarallah, Abdullah Yahya al-Wa'adi, Khalid Muhammad al-Batati, Kasim Yahya al-Remi, Muhammad Ahmad al-Remi, Mansour Naser al-Baihani.

[28] Mohamed, Ghobari, "Al Qaeda jail escape seen as serious blow to Yemen", Reuters, (February 6, 2006).

[29] "Deep-rooted militancy shadows Yemen", Ibid; Mark, Trevelyan, "Yemen al Qaeda debacle worries U.S. and Europeans", Reuters, (February 9, 2006).

[30] Novak, Ibid; The orientalist Shaul Shay pointed out four important factors that pose problems for the Yemeni regime in dealing with Islamic terrorist: the tribal structure within Yemeni society impedes the existence of an effective central government in regions distanced from the capital; influential tribal leaders manage an independent policy and support, because of financial and ideological reasons, the radical Islamic cause; there exist strong radical Islamic groups that enjoy widespread national support; and finally, a corrupted management system obstructs the regime from effectively supervising activities carried out in the state. See, Shay, Ibid, p. 120.

[31] "172 Al Qaeda suspects 'detained in Yemen jails'", Yemen Observer, (February 17, 2006).