Yemeni kidnappers demand release of jailed cleric

Published December 18th, 2008 - 12:29 GMT

Kidnappers holding three Germans in Yemen are demanding the release of a cleric jailed in the United States on terrorism charges, tribal mediators said Thursday. According to AFP, the mediators said the kidnappers' leader, Sheikh Abed Rabbo Saleh al-Tam, told them he wants the release of Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad.


Al-Moayad was sentenced in 2005 in New York to 75 years in prison for supporting terrorism. In October, an appeals court overturned his conviction and ordered a retrial because of inflammatory testimony about unrelated terrorism cases in his first trial.


The demand comes on top of previous demands by Sheikh al-Tam for the release of his son and brother from Yemeni jails. The three Germans were abducted Monday by Bani Dhabyan tribesmen in Dhamar province, located some 65 miles south of the capital, Sana'a.


The mediators said they met al-Tam Wednesday to persuade him to release the hostages. Police have arrested some 115 men over the past few days from the Bani Dhabyan tribe, according to Brigadier Mohammed Saleh Tureik, chief of San'a security. Tureik said in a statement late Wednesday that some of the detainees were suspected of having a role in the kidnapping.


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