U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 - Yemen

In 2004, the Republic of Yemen continued to provide support for the global war on terrorism and took action against al-Qa'ida and local extremists, arresting several individuals suspected of having al-Qa'ida ties and prosecuting the perpetrators of several terrorist acts.

On August 28, the Sana'a Primary Court convicted 14 al-Qa'ida members for the October 2002 attack on the French tanker M/V Limburg, the murder of a Ministry of Interior officer during the November 2002 attack on an oil company helicopter, a plot to attack the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority, a plot to attack four foreign embassies in Sana'a and to kill the US Ambassador, and for forging documents for the purpose of carrying out terrorism. Two defendants received death sentences, one in absentia. The other defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to ten years. Under Yemeni law, both defendants and the prosecution have the right to appeal rulings. All defendants have appealed their sentences, as has the prosecution, the latter arguing that some of the sentences were too light. The appeals process is expected to conclude in early 2005.

On September 10, the Sana'a Primary Court concluded the trial of five defendants for the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole in Aden that killed 17 US sailors and injured 35. This included suspects Jamal al-Badawi and Fahad al-Quso, who were re-apprehended on March 10 by Yemeni authorities following their escape from an Aden prison in April 2003. On September 29, the court issued two death sentences for the ringleaders of the bombing (al-Badawi and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in absentia). Three others were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to ten years for their roles in the attack. These cases were under appeal by both the Government and the defense at the end of 2004.

The Yemeni Supreme Court heard appeals on the death sentences of Abed Abdulrazak al-Kamel and Ali Ahmed Mohamed Jarallah for the December 30, 2002, shootings of three American citizens in Jibla. No final decision has been issued in these cases.

Yemen has expressed a willingness to fight international terrorists by denying them the use of its territorial seas and ports. Over the past year, Yemen has increased its maritime security capabilities. The US Government provided extensive training and eight boats to the Yemeni Coast Guard, which is now a visible patrolling force along the coastline. Coast Guard operations are expanding to stem the use of Yemen as a way station for smuggling of persons, drugs, weapons, and explosives.

Land border security along Yemen's extensive frontier with Saudi Arabia remains a major concern. In February, Yemen and Saudi Arabia agreed to bolster cooperation in order to combat the cross-border smuggling of arms and people. The two countries also agreed to establish joint patrols and increase monitoring.

The Government's capacity for stemming terrorism financing remains limited. In February, the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee designated prominent Yemeni sheikh and opposition Islah party leader Abd al-Majid al-Zindani for his association with al-Qa'ida. The Yemeni Government has taken no action to bar his travel or to freeze his assets in compliance with its UN obligations, and Zindani continues to appear prominently at public events.

Yemen utilized its Islamic Dialogue Committee, headed by a leading judge, to continue its dialogue with detainees arrested for connections to terrorist groups and extremist elements. In a 2004 Ramadan amnesty the Government released over 100 security detainees, claiming that they had been rehabilitated and had made commitments to uphold the Yemeni constitution and laws, the rights of non-Muslims, and the inviolability of foreign interests.

Several terrorist organizations continued to maintain a presence in Yemen throughout 2004. HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) are recognized as legal organizations, and HAMAS maintains offices in Yemen. Neither organization has engaged in any known terrorist activities in Yemen, and PIJ does not have any known operational presence. HAMAS conducts extensive fundraising through mosques and other charitable organizations throughout the country. While al-Qa'ida's operational structure in Yemen has been weakened and dispersed, concerns remain about the organization's attempts to reconstitute operational cells in Yemen.


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