A senior al Qaeda leader held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan provided significant information about an alleged plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Yemen using a truck bomb. This new data lead to last week's decisions to close the embassy consular office in Yemen and tighten security around the facility, Washington officials said Tuesday.
According to the Washington Post, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a former head of al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, provided the details during an interrogation at the U.S. military base in Kandahar. Al-Libi is the most senior al Qaeda member known to be held by the United States.
US Administration officials also noted Yemen's quick response to the information as another sign of a reversal in that country's policy towards cooperating with the United States in its campaign against terrorism.
Long suspected of providing safe haven for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, Yemen in recent months has demonstrated a new willingness to join the U.S.-led campaign.
Yemen has become an increasing focus of U.S. activities in pursuing al Qaeda members outside Afghanistan. Bin Laden's ancestral home, Yemen has provided a large number of recruits to al Qaeda's forces. According to U.S. sources, "a significant number" of the 250 prisoners in U.S. hands in Afghanistan are from Yemen.
Yemen has recently moved against not only its citizens who are suspected of having ties with al Qaeda but also Arabs and others who study at the country's religious schools.
Yemeni officials have announced they would send away roughly 100 foreigners, from countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Britain, France, Sudan and Somalia, who had been detained for overstaying visas or other questionable activities. Many were students at Islamic religious institutes. Yemen has also put a stop to the entrance of new foreign students unless they have the approval of their own countries or are part of Yemen's overseas cultural exchanges.
Among the students who passed through the religious schools was John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban captured in Afghanistan.
On Monday, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III visited Yemen and praised "the effective cooperation of Yemeni security and investigative personnel," according to a U.S. Embassy statement. Mueller noted that "working as partners, we have uncovered a great deal of important information and many new leads”. (Albawaba.com)
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