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Cablegate: Yemen to Try Terrorists/Cole Bombing Suspects

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000867

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA, NEA/ARP, NEA/EX, S/CT, CA, DS/DSS,
CENTCOM FOR POLAD, FBI HQ (ATTN: DIRECTOR'S OFFICE), FBI
IOU (ATTN: SANDY FOWLER), FBI CTD, FBI ITOS'1/ETIU (ATTN:
RALPH HORTON AND DEBBIE MANCHAS)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL IZ YM COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: YEMEN TO TRY TERRORISTS/COLE BOMBING SUSPECTS

1. (U) Summary: On 11 April 2004, The Ambassador met with
ROYG Attorney General (AttGen) Dr. Abdullah Al-Ulfi to
discuss progress on turning over terrorist cases for
prosecution, formally request rendition of Cole Bombing
suspects Al-Badawi and Al-Quso, and to request/offer USG
participation in any upcoming trials. The AttGen told the
Ambassador that 15 individuals involved in 5 cases (2000 Cole
bombing, 2002 Qadissiya attack, 2002 Hunt Oil Company
helicopter attack, 2003 plot to assassinate the Ambassador,
2002 M/V Limburg bombing) were to be prosecuted in the near
term by the ROYG Prosecutor General. The meeting concluded
with a discussion of access to the prosecution team and their
evidence against the accused, and an offer of
assistance/sharing of evidence gathered by U.S. investigatory
bodies. Also present were ROYG Justice Ministry Chief of
Staff Ahmad Al-Jundubi, LEGATT, FPD and Embassy
Counterterrorism Coordinator. End summary.

------------------------------------------

RENDITION OF BADAWI AND QUSO

------------------------------------------

2. (U) The Ambassador formally presented the USG's request
for rendition of U.S.S. Cole bombing suspects Jamal Muhammad
Ahmad Ali Al-Badawi and Fahd Muhammad Ahmad al-Quso. As
these two men have been specifically charged with acts of
terrorism against American targets, the USG has interest to
see them tried in the United States. Failing rendition, the
Ambassador requested a swift trial in the Yemeni courts
system for the same crimes.

3. (U) The AttGen told the Ambassador that rendition
remained a constitutional issue, but that all requests would
be taken under advisement. The AttGen requested that such a
request be followed-up in a diplomatic note and routed
through the MFA. (note: the Embassy is doing so. End
note.)

------------------------------------------

TRANSFER OF CASES

------------------------------------------

4. (U) The AttGen informed the Ambassador that his office
had formed a special team on 8 April to receive the transfer
of files on 15 individuals currently incarcerated in
Political Security Organization (PSO) jails for charges of
terrorism. The prisoners were to remain in PSO custody
throughout the trial period. Transfer of all files was
expected to be completed on/about 15 April. This team would
then review the files in preparation for transfer to
individual prosecutors. These prosecutors would then
supervise the cases through the investigation (which began on
10 April) and trial phases. Modeled on the French system,
two different judges would preside over
pre-trial/investigation period and the actual trial itself.
Venue for trial was not yet decided but was expected to be
either the criminal court or the court of appeals, both
secure locations. When pressed for a notional timeline for
onset/completion of the trials, the AttGen demurred but said
that 6-8 weeks was possible. He made clear to the Ambassador
that the trials would be swift and just. The AttGen
recommended USG hire a Yemeni lawyer to assist US team.

5. (U) The 5 cases are: the attack on the U.S.S. Cole of
October 12, 2000; the plot against American interests which
culminated in the explosion in the Al-Qadisiyya district of
Sana'a on August 9, 2002; the plot to assassinate the
Ambassador circa Fall/Winter 2002; the rocket attack on the
Hunt Oil Company helicopter of November 3, 2002; the bombing
of the M/V Limburg October 6, 2002. (note: The Embassy
requested the identities of the 15 charged with these crimes
in a diplomatic note sent on 13 April, 2004. End note.)

------------------------------------------

USG PARTICIPATION IN THE TRIALS

------------------------------------------

6. (U) Speaking generally, the AttGen told the Ambassador
that the ROYG Justice Ministry was open to any requests made
by the Embassy regarding access during the trials and would
do its best to include American representatives. This
participation would be based in two capacities: access as
representation of the victims and access as assistance to the
prosecution. Of the former, appropriate and named
representatives for the victims would be allowed
participation via the prosecutor to bring questions against
the accused, present and view existing evidence, and would
have a role in sentencing. The AttGen noted that these
privileges were standard in the Yemeni court system and did
not constitute an exceptional request. Concerning assistance
to the prosecution, the LEGATT suggested that the Embassy
would present one team of experts from the FBI and Department
of Justice that would interact and liaise with the
prosecution team, share evidence and provide forensic
assistance as required. NCIS would also be represented on
the team for all trials of Cole suspects.

7. (U) Action requested: USG should constitute ASAP a team
to represent USG and victims' interests in all phases of the
judicial investigation, trial and sentencing. The official
U.S. representation should have a written mandate from or on
behalf of the victims to document that role. Official USG
representation should be assigned for the duration of the
process -- one team from beginning to end. Embassy will
designate LEGATT and NCIS representatives as its
representatives. DOJ/FBI should also prepare for sharing
with Yemeni prosecutors appropriate evidence or documents to
strengthen prosecution in cases where we have such materials.
HULL

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