SANAA (AFP) – A Yemeni man accused of being an Al-Qaeda militant told a Sanaa court on Sunday that he was working for the country’s intelligence to identify members of the terror group.
Badr Ahmed, 31, said his work could be verified by an intelligence officer named Abdullah al-Ashul, and the court, which specialises in terrorism cases, agreed to summon him.
At the same hearing, Faisal al-Majidi, a lawyer for the three other defendants in the case including a German and an Iraqi, said his clients were all only 16 years old and should thus be tried before a juvenile court.
The four are accused of taking part in “plans to carry out criminal acts, targeting tourists, foreign interests, and vital government and military installations,” according to the state Saba news agency.
They were 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 said.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 17.
Also on Sunday, the defence ministry’s 26sep.net news website reported that 12 Yemeni Al-Qaeda suspects have been referred to court in the eastern Hadramut province, citing a judicial source.
They were arrested over a period of two years, accused of planning to commit criminal acts and blow up public and private facilities, the source said, adding that they were in possession of explosives and weapons at the time of their arrests.
They are also accused of sheltering wanted Al-Qaeda suspects from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Sudan, and of having procured passports to travel to Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq to join Al-Qaeda-linked organisations in those countries, the source said.
The news website also cited a security source as saying that authorities on Wednesday arrested five suspected Al-Qaeda members who had pursued a vehicle carrying six convicted members from an appeals court hearing.
The six were being returned to prison, where they had been sentenced to serve between five and 10 years for belonging to Al-Qaeda and forming an armed group to attack tourists and domestic and foreign interests, the source said.
Yemen is Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland.
In addition to the Al-Qaeda threat, the Arab world’s poorest country also faces a sporadic rebellion by Zaidi Shiites in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.