Free to Bomb Again

With “allies” like these who the hell needs enemies?

SAN’A, Yemen –
Yemen has set free one of the al-Qaida masterminds of the USS Cole bombing in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors, a senior security official said Thursday

Jamal al-Badawi, who is wanted by the FBI, was convicted in 2004 of plotting, preparing and helping carry out the USS Cole bombing and received a death sentence that was commuted to 15 years in prison.

He and 22 others, mostly al-Qaida fighters, escaped from prison in 2004. But al-Badawi was granted his freedom after turning himself in 15 days ago and pledging loyalty to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Gee, all he had to do was declare allegience to the Yemen government, and all is forgiven. How sweet.

The official said police were told by the government to “stop all previous orders concerning measures adopted against al-Badawi.”

……Al-Qaida used to have an active presence in Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden. The group was blamed for the bombing of the Cole and the attack on a French oil tanker that killed one person two years later.

Also Thursday, a second security official said police have uncovered a terrorist cell composed of four extremists who were recruiting young Yemenis to carry out suicide attacks in Iraq and elsewhere.

The four were allegedly receiving funds from abroad and were recruiting young men in their twenties from mosques and religious seminars during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said the official, citing their confessions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Yemen does not have a law that criminalizes Jihad, or holy war. Detainees remain in prison until they either renounce their commitment to Jihad or are released under pressure from family and human rights groups.

Since the suicide attack in July that killed eight Spanish tourists visiting an ancient Yemeni temple, President Saleh has said in several interviews with local papers that al-Qaida had reached a truce with the government.

No wonder there’s a ‘truce’ with al Qaeda. There’s no law against the terrorism they inflict, and a quick release from prison is guaranteed with an “I promise not to do it again”.   Not surprising, given the fact that Yemen is just one of the sponsors and exporters of terrorism:

……Through the 1990’s, both Osama bin Laden and Aiman Zawaheri traveled in and out and around Yemen on many occasions, often meeting religious leaders and prominent persons. Bin Laden delivered sermons in Yemeni mosques and purportedly held a six hour meeting with Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in Sana’a airport in 1996.

Bin Laden made a deal with the Yemeni government in 1999, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. After Al-Qaeda operative Tawfiq (Khallad) bin Attash was arrested in Yemen, Bin Laden contacted a Yemeni official and bargained for Attash’s release. The Yemeni regime released Attash and promised not to confront al-Qaeda. In exchange, Bin Laden pledged not to attack Yemen. This pattern of negotiation continues today.

Yemen’s insidious cover up of the attack on the USS Cole:

……One lingering question about the Cole bombing is whether the bombers had advance knowledge about the arrival of the USS Cole. Oddly, the Yemeni government denied receiving information about the impending arrival of the USS Cole. Yemeni President Saleh said, “The Americans made a mistake when they entered the port with such a large size and greatly valuable destroyer without guarding or notifying the Yemeni side to provide such protection,” the Yemen Times reported in November 2000. However, General Anthony Zinni, former Centcom commander, noted in his 2000 congressional testimony that, “The force protection in the port is the responsibility of the Yemeni government.” He noted that specific arrangements for the visit are, “done with the port authority, and the government of Yemeni officials; their security forces.” He also indicated that such notice is normally issued by the United States to a foreign government about two weeks prior to the arrival of a US vessel.

Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower notes, “The FBI was convinced that the bombers had been tipped off about the arrival of the Cole, and they wanted to expand the investigation to include a member of the president’s own family and a colonel in the PSO.” The Yemeni government denied these requests while blaming the US for bombing its own ship. In July 2001, a top Yemeni official told the Egyptian governmental weekly, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, that the Yemeni investigation indicated that the US intentionally blew up the Cole as a pretext for invasion. He said the US planned on turning the port of Aden into a US naval base. In December 2005, President Saleh repeated these claims on national TV, stating, “there was a plan to occupy Aden” after the Cole bombing. However notorious the Yemeni regime may be for duplicity, and many within the US administration excuse these statements as understandable domestic posturing, the fact remains there are many indications of regime complicity in the bombing of the USS Cole.

As noted by a 2007 US Congressional Research Service report, “Yemeni authorities did not fully cooperate in the investigation of the Cole bombing.” US investigators were prevented from directly interrogating Yemeni suspects, and were forced to submit their questions on paper. The Yemeni officials also hid evidence. According to Lawrence Wright, “The Yemenis finally produced a videotape taken by a harborside security camera, but it appeared to have been edited to delete the crucial moment of explosion…” The Yemeni government’s lack of cooperation with federal investigators was most like designed to protect upper level officials complicit in the attack.

One document admitted by the Yemeni court in the 2003 trial of five accused Cole plotters was an official letter from Yemen’s then interior minister, Hussain Arab, which instructed Yemeni security forces to give safe passage and cooperation to Muhammed Omar al-Harazi a/k/a Abd al-Rahman Al-Nashiri from April to December 2000. Other documents used by the bombers included arms permits normally issued by the Ministry of the Interior which were said to be a forgery, the Yemen Times reported in 2005.

Outright support of terrorism:

……Yemen uses and exports Islamic fanatics as a tool of domestic and foreign policy. After the empowerment of Hamas in a democratic election, the idealistic US push for democratization and reform in the Middle East was met by the real-politik fears of radical Islamists gaining political power. In Yemen, radical Islamists already have political power and government jobs, as evidenced by the state’s failure to thwart terrorist financing, media incitement, mosque incitement, material support and moral support for terrorism. With or without official political status, elections or recognition, Yemeni Islamist militants are capable of influencing the regime and deploying state resources. And these political players are more dangerous when they are playing the game underground, while an enormous game of charades takes place in the media.

We’re totally defeating the purpose of the GWOT by maintaining diplomatic relations with Islamic states.   Any of them.

But remember, they’re one of our “friends”.

Just. Wonderful.

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