SANAA (AFP) – Four alleged Al-Qaeda militants, including a German and an Iraqi, appeared before a Sanaa court on Monday charged with planning attacks on foreign, government and military targets.
No mention was made in the charge sheet however of the defendants’ alleged involvement in a suicide attack targeting the British ambassador’s convoy in Sanaa in April.
The defendants denied the charges, and the court, which specialises in terrorism cases, set October 3 as the date for the next hearing.
According to the Saba state news agency, the four are accused of taking part in “plans to carry out criminal acts, targeting tourists, foreign interests, and vital government and military installations.”
They are also accused of “confronting the state in (the southern province of) Marib, endangering the community’s safety and security … (and) forming secret cells in preparation for carrying out suicide attacks,” Saba reported.
On June 24, the defence ministry’s news website reported that four suspects were being questioned by Yemeni authorities over the failed April 26 attack on British envoy Timothy Torlot.
The ambassador narrowly escaped the attack, in which a suicide bomber hurled himself at his two-car convoy in a Sanaa street as it neared the British embassy compound.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack, in which witnesses said that the assailant’s body was torn to pieces and three bystanders were lightly wounded.
Following the attack, the British embassy in Sanaa closed down for two weeks.
A judicial source had told AFP that four Al-Qaeda militants suspected of being behind that attack would appear in court on Monday.
One of the suspects was identified by the defence ministry’s 26sep.net website as a German national — the son of a German businessman married to a Yemeni and who has been living in Yemen.
The four suspects were part of a group that plotted to attack vital facilities and interests, 26sep.net had quoted judicial sources as saying.
Yemeni authorities have said that most of the group’s members have been arrested.
Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and is AQAP’s base.
As well as the resurgence of Al-Qaeda, Yemen is in the grip of an economic crisis, a growing secessionist movement in the south, and an off-again, on-again rebellion in the north.