Report- Kuwaiti authorities arrest senior al-Qaida member

Sunday, November 17, 2002

KUWAIT CITY -- Kuwaiti police have arrested a senior member of al-Qaida who was helping to plan a car bomb attack on a Yemeni hotel frequented by Americans, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Police arrested a 21-year-old Kuwaiti identified only by the initials "M.F." two weeks ago, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Anba said.

An Interior Ministry official confirmed the newspaper report, but would provide no further details.

According to Al-Anba, the arrested Kuwaiti told police that a Yemeni national identified as Osama al-Yemeni was to drive a bomb-wired car into an unidentified hotel in the Yemeni capital, San'a.

The Kuwaiti told police he had collected $127,000 to finance the operation, Al-Anba reported.

Kuwaiti officials have informed American, Saudi and French authorities of the arrest and the alleged confessions, which helped foil the attack, the report said.

The newspaper report also said the Kuwaiti gave police details about last month's attack on the French oil tanker Limburg off the Yemeni coast. Statements attributed to al-Qaida have praised the Oct. 6 attack in Yemen.

According to Al-Anba, the Kuwaiti identified two men involved in the tanker attack as 23-year-old Yemeni named Shehab, whose family name was not provided, and Abu Assam al-Makki, whose nationality was not given.

Kuwait became a key U.S. Gulf ally after an American-led coalition drove Iraqi forces out of the oil-rich state in the 1991 Gulf War.

However, scores of Kuwaitis have fought in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya, and al-Qaida spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was a Kuwaiti citizen until the government stripped him of his nationality a year ago when he appeared on television next to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Two Kuwaiti Muslim fundamentalists killed a U.S. Marine last month, before being gunned down by other Marines in a clash on the Kuwaiti island of Failaka.

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