SANAA (AFP) – A Yemeni court sentenced on Tuesday seven suspected Al-Qaeda members between five and ten years in jail after convicting them of plotting to attack foreign interests and tourists.
The seven were arrested while preparing explosives and monitoring tourist buses to attack them, according to police. Their trial began on October 17.
They were convicted of “plotting to form an armed gang to execute criminal acts targeting foreign tourists and interests and government installments,” according to the verdict.
Three of them, Hussein al-Marwalah, Mohammed al-Ghawly, and Hani al-Aleeni, were sentenced to 10 years in prison, while three others, Yossuf al-Hajjaji, Abdullah al-Matari, and Amin al-Najjar, were jailed seven years.
The seventh, Muteab al-Qadi, was sentenced to five years in prison.
The militants chanted “God is Great” and praised Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as their leader after they heard the verdict.
“We want bin Laden to rule by Allah’s law… Shame on you people that our hands are chained… We betray bin Laden as we have betrayed Palestine in the past,” they chanted.
“We tell the worshippers of the Cross, and the Americans, that we will not rest until we liberate Jerusalem,” Marwalah said from the dock.
Yemen has been the target of a number of attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda against foreign missions, tourist sites and oil installations. Four South Korean tourists died in March in a terrorist bombing in the historic city of Sham.
In March 2008, a schoolgirl and a policeman were killed when a bomb struck a girls’ school near the US embassy. The State Department said the target was its mission in Sanaa.
The Yemeni government has intensified its military campaign against Al-Qaeda as international pressure mounted on Sanaa to clamp down on the militants who are believed to be regrouping in the impoverished country.
Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen — Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — has claimed responsibility for the botched Christmas Day attack on a US airliner.
Washington accused the group of training the Nigerian assailant — described by bin Laden as a “hero.”