Cablegate: Yemenis React to Moayad Sentencing
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 002115
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV YM PTERM
SUBJECT: YEMENIS REACT TO MOAYAD SENTENCING
REF: SANAA 2053
1. (SBU) Summary. The July 28 sentencing of Shiekh Mohammed
Ali Hassn al-Moayad has sparked heated reaction from the
ROYG, the opposition Islah party and, according to the print
media, the public. On the streets, however, there were no
demonstrations and interlocutors state that, contrary to the
reports, the general public is not overly concerned with the
case. End Summary.
2. (SBU) On July 28, a Brooklyn Federal Court Judge sentenced
Shiekh Mohammed Ali Hassn al-Moayad to 75 years imprisonment
for conspiracy to provide material support to the Hammas
terrorist organization. In discussions with poloff before and
after the case, journalists, civil society activists and
attorneys overwhelmingly rejected the case's outcome.
Instead, they said that Moayad is a "pious" and "simple" man
who was just boasting to raise money for his charities.
Throughout Sanaa, Moayad is known as the Imam who provided
daily free bread for the poor, ran a local orphanage and
supported a religious school.
3. (SBU) In an interview carried on Al-Jazeera's web site on
July 30, FM Abu Bakr al-Qirbi condemned Moayad's sentencing,
billing it as "extremely unfair" and saying that Moayad's
arrest and extradition contradict International Law. In his
own interview carried by the official government newspaper
"Al-Thawra" on July 30, DFM Mustapha Noman said that the ROYG
would continue to work for Moayad's release. The
quasi-governmental group, the Yemeni Women's Union (YWU),
also protested the case on July 26, two days before the
sentencing, by presenting a letter to CDA that was signed by
several leading political and non-governmental figures.
In the Press
4. (SBU) Many Yemeni newspapers covered the sentencing
without editorials, although their coverage conveyed only
negative public reactions. The harshest condemnations came
from the Islah party internet news service, Al-Sahwa.net,
which on July 30 issued a party statement condemning the
sentence. The statement urged Saleh to intervene, charging
that the case was based on false accusations that, even had
they been committed, were not illegal according to Yemeni
law. Sahwa also quoted Moayad's defense attorney, Khalid
al-Anisi, who warned that the sentence caused "widespread
anger" throughout the country and will "widen the gap"
between Arabs and the U.S.
5. (SBU) Moayad's son issued a similar statement to the
independent Aden-based "Al-Ayam" newspaper on July 30, saying
that support for Palestinians is not a crime in Yemen or
"millions of Yemenis would be sent to prison." Both "26
September," the official newspaper of the armed forces, and
"Akhbar al-Yawm," affiliated with the notoriously
anti-American newspaper "Al-Shumuu," reported that a
coalition of civil society and political organizations
planned to meet with President Saleh to urge him to work for
On the Streets
6. (SBU) The mood in the streets was more indifferent than
newspapers indicated. Sami Ghalib, Editor in Chief of the
independent "Al-Nidaa," commented that people were not
concerned about the case because other national issues,
particularly the recent lifting of oil and gas subsidies,
overshadowed the trial. Journalist and intellectual Nabil
al-Sufi confirmed the absence of a public reaction but warned
that the tables could turn if Moayad were to die in prison.
7. (SBU) On Saturday, July 29, reports circulated (partly
propagated by Sahwa) that Friday mosque sermons (carried over
loudspeakers throughout Sanaa) condemned the sentence calling
it part of the USG's "War on Islam." Embassy staff who
attended Friday mosque services did not hear such references.
8. (SBU) Comment: Preoccupied with the recent riots and price
hikes, it is unlikely that the Yemeni population will do
anything beyond condemning the sentence in the press.
Recognizing this, Islah, Moayad's political party and the
most likely organizer of any demonstration, also seems
reluctant to take the issue to the streets. Qirbi's
statements and the tone in official papers, demonstrating
ROYG views similar to the opposition, may have sufficiently
mollified the public. End comment.