Cablegate: Yemen: 2003 Annual Terrorism Report
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SANAA 002979
S/CT FOR REAP
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER YM COUNTER TERRORISM TERFIN
SUBJECT: YEMEN: 2003 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT
REF: STATE 301352
1. Embassy Sana'a responses to instructions for the
"Patterns on Global Terrorism" report are keyed to lettered
paragraphs in State 301352.
2. Post responses:
A) SIGNIFICANT ACTIONS TAKEN BY HOST GOVERNMENTS TO SUPPORT
THE GLOBAL COALITION AGAINST TERRORISM, PARTICULARLY LAW
ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST AL-QAIDA OPERATIVES, BUT
INCLUDING DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS AND ACTIONS TO BLOCK TERRORIST
ASSETS, ENACT NEW COUNTERTERRORISM LAWS, AND RATIFY EXISTING
-- Law Enforcement: There was continuing law enforcement
cooperation between Yemeni and U.S. law enforcement
authorities throughout 2003, which has produced tangible
results and progress on dismantling al-Qaida in Yemen:
On November 25, the Republic of Yemen government (ROYG)
arrested Saudi-born Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal (AKA Abu Assam
al-Maki), who has been implicated in the October 2000 attack
on the U.S.S. Cole. Abu Assam is suspected to have been a
close associate of Ali al-Harithi, who was among the six
al-Qaida suspects killed in November 2002 in Marib and is
believed to have been a mujahidin facilitator connected to
the Cole attack. U.S.-trained and equipped Central Security
Forces (CSF) put their training into action and played a
central role in the operation to apprehend Abu Assam.
Hadi Dulqum, a weapons dealer, al-Qaida associate and
supplier of weapons for the group also arrested by the ROYG
in 2003 and remains in custody.
In mid-September 2003, the ROYG disrupted an al-Qaida cell
operating in Sana'a, Yemen and targeting Western interests.
The cell was headed by Afghanistan-trained 'Amr al-Sharif,
who was trying to reconstitute al-Qaida in Yemen. In
October, however, the ROYG expressed confidence that the
"danger was over" for Western targets in Yemen and asserted
that all cell members inside Yemen had been captured. The
government provided further information on the ROYG's
investigation into the cell's activities and members,
particularly information on several arrests in Yemen and
In cooperation with Yemeni officials, the FBI actively
participated in the investigation of the December 30, 2002
shootings of three American health care workers in Jibla.
Pursuant to the joint investigation, the shooter, Abed
Abdulrazak al-Kamel, was tried, convicted and sentenced to
death in an open trial in May 2003. This decision was upheld
by the appellate court and is being referred to the Yemen
Supreme Court (see also, response to Question B).
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, an Iraqi Intelligence Service
(IIS) sleeper cell was disrupted by the ROYG in Sana'a and
its members arrested. This cell was planning attacks on U.S.
There was one significant Anti-Terrorist Assistance (ATA)
event with the ROYG in 2003. From July 26 to August 6, the
Department of State and the FBI jointly sponsored a terrorist
crime scene investigation training course for ROYG officials.
Yemeni officials trained by the FBI participated in the
take-down of the 'Amr Sharif al-Qaida cell (see above).
-- Military/Counterterrorism Cooperation: Based on mutual
cooperation with Yemen, the U.S. is providing:
- counter-terrorism training and modernization for Yemeni
- U.S. Military Training Teams (MTTs) in country to train
ground and maritime forces;
- equipment (including 8 patrol boats due to arrive in early
2004), training, and guidance to establish Yemeni Coast Guard
- equipment and training for Yemen's Terrorist Interdiction
Program (TIPS), an on-line system for monitoring entry and
exit from all of Yemen's air, land, and sea ports. The
program is currently in Phase II (of 3 phases) and has
established monitoring portals at all 24 border crossing
points in Yemen. Phase III will be completed in early 2004.
These collaborations are producing tangible successes. In
June 2003, the newly-formed Central Security Forces (CSF) CT
unit was dispatched to the Hattat mountains in Abyan province
to hunt down and bring to justice those responsible for an
attack on a Red Crescent medical convoy the week before. The
area commander put this unit, trained by British and U.S.
forces, at the lead of this effort when Ministry of Defense
forces became bogged down by harassing gunfire from the
surrounding hills. Over a three day period, the CSF unit
engaged those responsible and completed their mission with
praise from Minister of Interior Alimi and President Saleh.
The same unit was sent out the following week to complete
mop-up operations, as they were trained to do by the
U.S./British training teams.
-- Actions to block terrorist assets: Throughout the year,
Yemeni authorities referred for action to appropriate banking
institutions information about individuals and entities
identified under U.S. executive orders as related to
terrorists or terrorist activities, as well as the freezing
of Iraqi assets. The regulatory system of Yemeni banks
remains relatively unsophisticated, however, and it is
difficult to assess its effectiveness.
-- Diplomatic Efforts: President Saleh and senior government
officials in 2003 held extensive bilateral discussions with
visiting senior U.S. officials (CENTCOM General Abizaid, FBI
Director Mueller, CJTF-HOA Commander General Robeson,
Assistant Secretary Burns, Under Secretary for
Non-Proliferation Ambassador Bolton), in which U.S.-Yemeni
counter-terrorism cooperation was a key issue.
-- Ratification of Existing CT Treaties: As of November
2003, the Yemeni government still needed to ratify two of the
twelve (financing and bombing) counter-terrorism treaties,
both of which have been referred to Parliament and are
expected to be ratified by early 2004.
B) DESCRIBE THE RESPONSE OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM OF EACH
COUNTRY TO ACTS OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND/OR SIGNIFICANT
ACTS OF DOMESTIC TERRORISM DURING 2003, INCLUDING ANY HOST
GOVERNMENT PROSECUTIONS RELATING TO TERRORISM. PARTICULAR
ATTENTION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO HOST GOVERNMENT ACTIONS
REGARDING ACTS OF TERRORISM AGAINST OR AFFECTING U.S.
CITIZENS OR FACILITIES.
-- There have been no reported kidnappings of any Westerners
since the November 2001 kidnapping of the German businessman.
The Yemeni government has worked closely with U.S. officials
to prevent attacks against Western interests.
-- The perpetrators of the December 30, 2002 shootings of
three Americans in Jibla -- Abed Abdulrazak al-Kamel, the
shooter, and Ali Ahmed Mohamed Jarallah, the planner -- were
tried, convicted and sentenced to death in separate trials in
2003. On December 1, 2003, a three-judge panel affirmed the
death sentence of al-Kamel, who will appeal the decision to
the Yemen Supreme Court. Court officials expect that the
conviction will be upheld and passed to President Saleh, who
is likely sign off on the order to carry out the sentence.
Post representatives attended al-Kamel's trial and appeal
proceedings, which were relatively transparent and openly
reported in the local media.
-- Al-Kamel coordinated the attack with Ali al-Jarallah, who
was convicted of both the Amcit murders and the assassination
of Yemeni Socialist Party Deputy Secretary-General Jarallah
Omar in a separate trial in Sana'a in October 2003.
Al-Jarallah is also expected to appeal his conviction and
sentence. No specific date has been set for the executions.
-- In April 2003, it was reported that a number of the U.S.S.
Cole suspects had escaped prison; two have since been
recaptured, but neither of the primary suspects, Jamal
Mohammed al-Badawi and Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, have been
returned to custody.
-- An Islamic scholarly commission formed in August 2002
continues its dialogue efforts with detainees arrested in
connection with extremism and/or terrorist attacks which
reportedly include Yemeni returnees from Afghanistan and
members of the Al Jihad organization. Prior to being
released, the detainees are screened by the Political
Security Organization (PSO) and must sign statements assuring
good conduct (i.e., commitment to Yemeni President Saleh, the
constitution, laws, peace and security, the rights of
non-Muslims, and the inviolability of foreign interests).
Thirty-four detainees were released post-Ramadan 2002 and the
commission recommended 92 for release after Ramadan 2003. At
this date it remains unclear how many have actually been
-- In October 2003, despite repeated statements that "Islamic
Aden-Abyan Army" leader Khalid Abd-al-Nabi was dead, Yemeni
officials revealed that he was not killed in February 2003
confrontations between the hard-line Islamic group and a
Yemen army anti-terrorism unit in the Hattat Mountains
region, Abyan Governorate (in the southern part of the
country). Instead, Abd-al-Nabi surrendered to the Yemeni
authorities, was released from custody, and is not facing
charges for any of his activities.
C) DID THE HOST GOVERNMENT EXTRADITE OR REQUEST THE
EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED TERRORISTS FOR PROSECUTION DURING
THE YEAR? PARTICULAR ATTENTION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO HOST
GOVERNMENT RESPONSES TO U.S. REQUESTS FOR EXTRADITION OR
ASSISTANCE IN TERRORIST CASES.
D) DESCRIBE ANY SIGNIFICANT IMPEDIMENTS TO HOST GOVERNMENT
PROSECUTION AND/OR EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED TERRORISTS.
(Answer to Question 2C and 2D combined)
-- Article 45 of the Yemeni Constitution prohibits the
extradition of any Yemeni citizen to any foreign authority.
-- There is no extradition treaty between Yemen and the
United States, and Yemen made no requests for extradition
from the U.S. in 2003.
-- The ROYG requested that the U.S. not extradite Shaykh
Mohammed Hasan al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed,
both Yemeni citizens, from Germany to the United States to
face charges of conspiring to provide support to al-Qaida and
HAMAS. Al-Moayad and Zayed arrived at Kennedy International
Airport in New York on November 16, 2003 and were
subsequently arraigned in U. S. District Court in Brooklyn,
-- Yemen periodically exchanges prisoners with Saudi Arabia,
including terrorist suspects. One October 2003 press report
claims that 40 "militants" have been exchanged in the past
two years. Names are generally not provided.
E) DISCUSS HOST GOVERNMENT RESPONSES OTHER THAN PROSECUTION.
THESE WOULD INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, PUBLIC
STATEMENTS BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR OFFICIAL NEWS AGENCIES
FOLLOWING A TERRORIST INCIDENT (IN OR OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY)
AND EFFORTS BY HOST GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE TERRORIST
INCIDENTS OR TO ASSIST WITH INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
-- In January 2003, the official government news agency
(SABA) undertook a public diplomacy campaign aimed at
stigmatizing terrorist activities. The government printed
booklets on "The Phenomenon of Terrorism in Yemen" to
highlight the political, social and economic costs of
terrorism, which were presented to Yemen's Parliament and
widely distributed. In 2003, the ROYG also began publishing
the details, names and pictures of terror suspects, e.g.,
escaped U.S.S. Cole suspects.
-- The public statements of President Saleh, Prime Minister
BaJammal, Minister of Foreign Affairs Qirbi, Minister of
Interior Alimi, and other senior Yemeni officials in 2003
made clear the policy of the Yemeni government to oppose
international terrorism, especially the activities of
al-Qaida (see responses 2A through 2D above). President
Saleh repeatedly called upon al-Qaida elements in Yemen to
repent and abandon their mistaken views, and to surrender to
F) DESCRIBE MAJOR COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS UNDERTAKEN IN 2003
BY THE HOST GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING STEPS TAKEN IN
-- Increased cooperation with the U.S. on counter-terrorism
(as described in the responses above) has included improving
the Yemeni capabilities to develop and implement a Maritime
Security Strategy and to increase border security.
-- Land border security, particularly the long frontier with
Saudi Arabia, is a major concern for Yemen. In the aftermath
of the Riyadh bomb attacks in May 2003, Yemen and Saudi
Arabia launched a joint effort (reportedly with funding from
the Saudi side) to improve border control, including a signed
agreement in June 2003 to upgrade border surveillance. An
important change on the Yemeni side is that responsibility
for border control is expected to be transferred from the
military to civilian forces under authority of the Ministry
of the Interior. The head of the Border Guards has a bold,
but as-yet unfunded, plan to establish 18 districts along the
Yemeni-Saudi border to provide in depth defenses against
-- Yemen has also initiated a tripartite collaboration with
Sudan and Ethiopia to increase counter-terrorism, security
and cultural cooperation, as well as economic development.
G) DESCRIBE ANY SIGNIFICANT HOST GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, TERRORISTS, OR TERRORIST GROUPS,
INCLUDING (BUT NOT LIMITED TO) POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL
SUPPORT OF TERRORISTS OR THEIR ACTIVITIES; DIPLOMATIC SUPPORT
THROUGH DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION; MISUSE OF THE DIPLOMATIC
POUCH AND OTHER DIPLOMATIC PRIVILEGES TO SUPPORT TERRORISM;
PROVISION OF SANCTUARY AND/OR THE PRESENCE OF OFFICES OF
TERRORIST GROUPS; PROVISION OF TRAINING OR TRAINING SITES;
PROVISION OF WEAPONS; AND POSITIONS TAKEN ON TERRORISM ISSUES
IN INTERNATIONAL FORA.
-- Yemen is a supplier and transshipment point for weapons,
including surface-to-air missiles, to both Middle Eastern and
Horn of Africa countries. A UN Committee of Experts recently
reported on the need to reduce arms in the country and to
increase international cooperation to reduce the flow of arms
from Yemen to Somalia. The government is aware of the
illegal export of arms via various routes, and is taking
steps to make borders less permeable (e.g. boat/vessel
registration) and to track weapons within its borders (e.g.,
-- Like other Arab governments, Yemen distinguishes between
terrorism, which it condemns and opposes, and what it sees as
legitimate resistance activities against the Israeli
occupation by Palestinian organizations such as HAMAS and
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). (Note: This position was
given formal expression in the 1998 Arab Convention on the
Suppression of Terrorism. End note)
-- Yemen has consistently opposed the U.S. definition of
"terrorism" and calls for a "demarcation line" to be drawn
between 'terrorism' and 'resistance' in reference to the
Palestinian intifadha. Yemen's policies provide political
support to Palestinian organizations, while seeking to
dissociate it from approval for terrorist acts, such as HAMAS
and PIJ-sponsored suicide attacks against non-combatant
-- Al-Qaida is attempting to re-constitute an operational
presence in Yemen.
-- HAMAS maintains a political presence in Yemen.
-- Yemen's indigenous Aden-Abyan Islamic Army remains active.
-- While Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has a legally declared
presence in Yemen, it does not have any known actual or
-- Shaykh Abdallah Bin-Husayn al-Ahmar, Speaker of the Yemeni
Parliament, has repeatedly called for boycotting Israeli
goods as well as the goods that are made in states supporting
Israel. In an October rally for boycotting U.S. and Israeli
goods at Sana'a University, Al-Ahmar said that "we must not
buy Israeli products because it supports and strengthens the
enemies of Islam, the oppressors, and the murderers who are
spilling the blood of our Palestinian brothers." Al-Ahmar
subsequently backed away from any boycott of American goods.
The al-Ahmar family runs the lucrative Kentucky Fried Chicken
franchise in Sana'a.
H) HAS THE HOST GOVERNMENT MADE ANY PUBLIC STATEMENTS IN
SUPPORT OF A TERRORIST-SUPPORTING COUNTRY ON A TERRORISM
ISSUE? (THE SEVEN GOVERNMENTS DESIGNATED BY THE SECRETARY AS
STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ARE CUBA, IRAN, IRAQ, LIBYA,
NORTH KOREA, SYRIA, AND SUDAN. PLEASE NOTE THAT, ALTHOUGH
IRAQ REMAINS A DESIGNATED STATE SPONSOR, ALL APPLICABLE
SANCTIONS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED.)
-- The Yemeni government does not consider Arab countries
such as Iraq, Syria and Sudan as "terrorist-supporting"
countries. As far as Iraq is concerned, the Yemeni
government did not support U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom
and never accepted the U.S. position that the former Iraqi
regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.
-- In many local and international events, Yemen has
reiterated its rejection of terrorism and violence, as well
as any activities that aim to impair the interests of any
country. Yemen always called for lifting the sanctions
imposed on Sudan, Libya and Iraq "as the reasons for imposing
the sanctions do not conform with international laws."
-- Yemen has never considered suicide attacks carried out by
HAMAS or by other jihad movements in Palestine as terrorist
acts, but it called on such organizations to give former
Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen the chance to accomplish
-- On November 12, 2003, Yemeni Vice President Abd Rabbu
Mansour Hadi met with the Syrian Ambassador in Sana'a
denouncing Israeli threats to strike at Syria and declaring
full support to Syria, which is strongly opposed to U.S. and
Israeli policies. The official Saba News Agency quoted Vice
President Hadi as vowing full support to Syria "against any
provocations threatening Syria's security or stability."
These remarks came after Israel had threatened to hit Syria
if it continued to support extremist organizations
threatening Israel from Syrian territories.
-- In May 2003, Iranian President Khatami visited Yemen to
sign seven bilateral agreements to cooperate on security,
trade, development, culture and shipping; Khatami was on the
first visit by an Iranian president to Sana'a since the 1979
Islamic Revolution. Relations between the two countries have
improved noticeably in recent years and both nations have
shown a firm political resolve to boost bilateral ties.
-- Yemen has consistently expressed solidarity with Sudan and
called for its territorial integrity to be maintained. The
Yemeni government welcomed and expressed strong support for
the recent peace accord signed between the Sudanese
government and the Sudanese Front for the Liberation of
I) DESCRIBE ANY SIGNIFICANT CHANGE SINCE 2002, POSITIVE OR
NEGATIVE, IN THE HOST GOVERNMENT'S ATTITUDE TOWARD TERRORISM,
INTERNATIONAL OR DOMESTIC. WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS
-- Over the past several years, Yemen's attitude regarding
international and domestic terrorism has strengthened
noticeably, and the trend continued throughout 2003. (See
responses to questions above.)