Islamic militants planning more attacks, warn Yemeni officials
Friday, January 3, 2003
SAN'A, Yemen -- A pair of Islamic militants -- in custody for allegedly killing three American Christian missionaries and a senior leftist Yemeni politician -- had plans to attack other foreigners, journalists and Yemeni political leaders, security officials said Thursday.
The murder suspects, Ali al-Jarallah and Abed Abdul Razak Kamel, gave police a list of eight targets during interrogation, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
The two are among 30 people detained so far in connection with Monday's killing of three missionaries and the wounding of a fourth at a Baptist hospital in southern Yemen. The roundup also was launched in the slaying of Jarallah Omar, deputy leader of Yemen's Socialist Party, last week.
Police arrested five suspected militants on Thursday. So far, no charges have been filed and it was unclear how many detainees were believed to be directly linked to alleged plans for future attacks.
The officials did not release the full list of alleged targets nor name anyone believed to be included in the hit list. But they said one target was a guest house used by Ismaili Muslims in San'a. Some Sunni Muslim extremists consider Ismailism -- a form of the Shiite branch of Islam -- heretical.
The officials did not say whether the suspects had described how they planned to attack their planned targets.
Officials have said they believe Kamel, the suspect in the missionary hospital killings, is linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, which has found a fertile recruiting ground in Yemen.
The government-owned newspaper 26 September reported on Thursday that al-Jarallah, who was arrested in relation to the killing of the Yemeni socialist official, confessed to being part of a cell that included Kamel and other militants.
The newspaper said al-Jarallah also confessed that he and Kamel visited the missionary hospital in Jibla, 125 miles south of San'a, several times in past weeks to plan the attack.
The officials said Yemeni interrogators have been briefing the FBI as the investigations progress but that U.S. agents were not allowed to interrogate Kamel.
During investigations of past attacks on Americans, U.S. authorities have complained of poor access to suspects. Yemenis have said they cannot allow foreigners to question Yemeni suspects in Yemen because it is a sovereign nation.
U.S. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity Thursday, said the Americans were getting all the cooperation they need from the Yemenis. An FBI team returned to San'a from Jibla on Thursday, the diplomats said.
U.S. Embassy and Yemeni officials said the body of Kathleen A. Gariety, one of the slain missionaries, was flown Wednesday night to the United States. The other two victims of the shooting, Martha C. Myers and William E. Koehn, were buried at the Jibla hospital on Tuesday.
Yemen has been on a front line in the U.S.-led war on terror, and the Yemeni government has cooperated with Washington.
Al-Qaida has been linked to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole near a Yemen port, an attack that left 17 U.S. sailors dead. The terror group also is suspected in an attack on a French tanker in October that killed one person.
In November, a CIA-operated Predator drone fired a missile that killed bin Laden's top lieutenant in Yemen, Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, and five other al-Qaida suspects.
Like elsewhere in the Arab world, anti-American sentiments are running high in Yemen over Washington's perceived support for Israel and the standoff with Iraq.