SAN’A, Yemen, (AP) -A hundred jailed Muslim extremists, including some who allegedly fought for al-Qaeda in Iraq, were released by authorities, a Yemeni security official said.
The official, speaking Saturday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said that some of the released completed serving their sentences, while some of the others were acquitted for lack of evidence.
He said the release of the 100 prisoners had been carried out in stages, with the last set free in late February.
The official added that 19 of the released fought under the command of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s previous leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, prior to his death in a U.S. airstrike last June. Some of the 19 had been convicted of plotting terrorist attacks after they were handed over to Yemen by Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Among the released were four Saudis and also members of a Yemeni extremist group — the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army that had kidnapped four tourists — three Britons and an Australian, in 1998. The tourists were killed in a botched rescue attempt by Yemeni security forces.
An interior ministry official, who said that the released members of Aden-Abyan Islamic Army were given $1,000 to help them restart life outside bars.