Report: Yemen Arrests Nine Cole Suspects, US Halts Investigation
Yemeni authorities have arrested nine people for allegedly plotting an attack against American investigators who were probing the USS Cole blast late last year, US officials said Monday, quoted by the Washington Post.
The USS Cole was severely damaged last Oct. 12 when a boat filled with explosives pulled alongside it and exploded while the vessel was in port for refueling.
Because of the security threat, the FBI ordered all US investigators out of Yemen on Sunday and gave no indication of when they might return, said the paper.
The nine men arrested by Yemeni authorities were believed to be affiliated with the Islamic Army of Aden, a group reportedly linked to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, a senior US official told the paper.
The official said the men were found with hand grenades, small arms and documents, including a map of the US Embassy in Sanaa, the capital, that indicated they were planning to attack Americans in Yemen.
"We don't know the [exact] window, but it was near term," the official said.
Commenting on the hand grenades and small arms confiscated from the suspects, the official added, "Whether or not the Yemenis have found the whole cache yet, I don't know."
"There is a very real and credible threat specifically against those investigating the Cole bombing," FBI spokesman John Collingwood said.
"Based upon what we know, we thought it prudent to remove our personnel rather than endanger both investigators and those US officials around them."
Despite the seriousness of the threat, State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher questioned the FBI's decision to remove its investigators from Yemen, the paper said.
He noted that diplomatic personnel have chosen to remain on the job in Sanaa, even though the embassy there has been closed to the public since June 9 because of increased terrorist threats.
"Our diplomatic security people are the ones who have responsibility and who do provide the security for all the personnel at the mission, irrespective of agency," Boucher said. "But in the end, if somebody doesn't want to be there, feels there's a particular reason not to be there, nobody forces them to stay." - Albawaba.com
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