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Cablegate: (S/Nf) Spike in National Security-Related Arrest

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #0317/01 0481029
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 171029Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3827
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0119
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT 0051
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 1760
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0016
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T SANAA 000317

NOFORN
SIPDIS

CA/OCS/ACS/NEA FOR ERINN STOTT AND PAMELA KAZI, CA/EX FOR
HENRY HAND,CA/VO/F/P FOR SADIA NIAZI, NEA/ARP FOR ANDREW
MACDONALD,
DS COMMAND CENTER,
CAIRO FOR RCO CHRISTOPHER ROWAN,
RIYADH FOR ICE ATTACHE RONALD KRISKE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2020
TAGS: ASEC CASC CMGT PTER YM
SUBJECT: (S/NF) SPIKE IN NATIONAL SECURITY-RELATED ARREST
CASES STRAINS POST,S RESOURCES

REF: A. SANAA 71
B. SANAA 151
C. SANAA 173
D. SANAA 230
E. SANAA 289
F. 09 SANAA 720
G. SANAA 202
H. MITCHELL/SIMS TELCON 02/16/2010
I. MITCHELL/SIMS EMAIL 02/16/2010
J. SANAA 214

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

This is an action request: see paragraph 12.

1. (S/NF) Summary: Since the start of 2010, Post has seen a
dramatic increase in the number of Amcits arrested. Over 80
percent of these cases (REF A-E) have had a nexus to
terrorism and national security issues that have required
substantial involvement from RSO and LEGATT. This comes as
the Consular Section is attempting to alleviate its six-month
backlog in upcoming CRBA appointments. Post requests TDY
personnel to assist with the anticipated staffing gaps in
Consular from April to September and renews its call to
increase FSO staffing (REF F) to address the sharply
increased workload. End Summary.

Arrests of Americans Up, New ROYG Procedures
--------------------------------------------

2. (S/NF) Post has noted a dramatic increase in arrests of
Americans in Yemen since the attempted Christmas Day bombing
of Northwest 253. In the last seven weeks, seven Amcits were
arrested for national security concerns and violations of
immigration laws (Ref A-E), compared to only six in the
entire four months prior. Six of these cases have suspected
links to terrorism that have required significant
coordination with LEGATT and RSO. Comment: This upsurge in
arrests is the result of more scrupulous ROYG focus on visa
overstay cases due to increased international attention to
terrorism in Yemen. End Comment.

3. (S/NF) Previously, a visa overstay would present himself
at the immigration authority, pay his fines, and obtain an
exit visa. Recently, however, overstays have been detained
and have required post intervention in securing their exit
from Yemen. Four of the arrestees were 'abducted' by the
Political Security Organization (PSO) or National Security
Bureau (NSB) and were held for between 3-10 days before post
was given official notice of their whereabouts. Note: In the
past two years, the Muslim convert community of Amcits living
in Yemen ) who make up the majority of overstays - has been
increasingly linked to extremist activities. End Note. In one
case, Post has still not received official word of the arrest
and is unable to inform the family in the US, who still
believes the individual has been kidnapped. The issue of
timely notification of arrests was recently raised by post's
DCM with the Yemeni Chief of Protocol.

Direct Namecheck Hits Increasing
--------------------------------

4. (S/NF) In addition to the spike in arrest cases, post
routinely sees cases of national security interest in the
course of its daily visa and American citizen services (ACS)
operations. On average, post has 3-5 cases per week that
require LEGATT and RSO attention. The processing time
required to clear these hits and allow time for additional
interviews is increasingly straining our ability to provide
routine services in a timely fashion. Comment: Post had
reduced appointment wait time for first-time CRBA
applications from six months to three months. We will not be
able to continue such high appointment numbers given the
recent increase in arrest cases and our current staffing
levels. End Comment.

Status of Arrestees
-------------------

5. (S/NF) Post is currently processing five arrest cases,

most of which have begun as welfare and whereabouts requests,
or visa overstays. A sixth, who was not a national security
or terrorist case, was recently released. All five that
remain have had strong links to terrorism or national
security concerns. The following is an update on these cases.

6. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX (REF A) was being
held at the Passport Authority pending further investigation
into both his visa overstay and possible links to terrorism.
ROYG previously attempted to deport XXXXXXXXXXXX. He was denied
boarding, however, due to his presence on the no fly list
(NFL). Post had requested guidance from CA on this matter
(REF G), as per applicable FAM NFL guidance. Post,s A/RSO-I
received a call from Consulate Istanbul,s A/RSO-I (REF H)
that XXXXXXXXXXXX arrived in Istanbul on February 16, but was denied
onward travel to the U.S due to his NFL status. Post later
received notice that XXXXXXXXXXXX is scheduled to board Turkish
Airlines flight TK1236 to Sanaa on February 17 (REF I). Note:
XXXXXXXXXXXX no longer has a valid Yemeni visa and airport visas are
no longer available (REF J). End Note.

7. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX (REF B) is being held at the
PSO prison. He is currently still under investigation by the
PSO, which plans to deport him. No date for his release has
been set. FBI and DS plan to meet him in the US upon his
return.

8. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX (REF C) is being held by the
Passport Authority and is awaiting deportation. Currently,
ROYG authorities are waiting for Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXX to secure an
itinerary and tickets to the US before his release.

9. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX (Ref D) is also being held at
the PSO prison. He is currently being investigated for his
links to terrorism. The ROYG has not given any information
regarding possible charges.

10. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX (Ref E) is currently being held at
the Immigration Authority prison pending possible
deportation. It is currently unclear if Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXX will be
able to pay his overstay fines and obtain a standard exit
visa to return to the US or if he will be deported.

COMMENT
-------

11. (SBU) Post currently has five full-time officers assigned
to the consular section and one part-time officer. Prison
visits must occur during morning hours pulling officers away
from visa and ACS cases. This increase in workload has
pushed our already strained operation beyond capacity and has
hampered our ability to work through existing backlogs in ACS
and IV. In REF F and through Diplomacy 3.0, post requested at
least one additional ACS officer based on workload and
staffing in FY09. Post's workload in IV has increased by
5,722 cases or over 2.5 times from FY08 to FY09.
Additionally, post's NIV workload increased by 918
adjudications, up nearly a third from FY08 to FY09. End
Comment.

ACTION REQUEST
--------------

12. (SBU) Post renews its call for a full-time FS-03 ACS
officer and FS-04 Vice Consul, and requests TDY support to
cover officer leave and the anticipated staffing gap from
April through September. In addition, post requests
experienced Arabic-speaking LE Staff and officer TDY support
as soon as possible to assist in working through backlogs in
ACS and IV. Post fully expects that the trends of increasing
arrests and direct hit cases will continue and looks forward
to a positive and expeditious response to this request.
SECHE

...

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