Yemen says 4 al-Qaida allies jailed

Published September 17, 2006

SANA, Yemen - Four suspected al-Qaida members were arrested Saturday on suspicion of plotting attacks on Yemen's capital. The arrests come a day after security forces foiled attempts to blow up two oil installations, authorities said.

Interior Minister Rashad Rashad al-Eleimi said the suspects had links to the four suicide bombers who tried to strike the oil installations but were killed when their cars blew up in an exchange of fire with security forces.

On Saturday, security forces confiscated 12 bags each containing about 88 to 110 pounds of highly explosive material as well as masks and women's clothing, which militants sometimes use to disguise themselves, Eleimi said.

He said the four arrested men planned to stage attacks on Yemeni and foreign targets in Sana but did not provide any details.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered a $26,000 reward Saturday for information leading to the arrest of terrorists in Yemen. He said the money would go to anyone "who gives information about or arrests a wanted terrorist," according to the official SABA news agency.

Eleimi said the attacks Friday and the men arrests Saturday were linked to a videotape aired Monday of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, threatening attacks in the Persian Gulf region and on facilities he accused of stealing Muslim oil.

Al-Qaida has an active presence in Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, despite government efforts to fight the network. The group was blamed for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden that killed 17 American sailors and the attack on a French oil tanker that killed one person two years later.

There have been fears of an al-Qaida attack in Yemen since 23 members of the terror network tunneled out of a Yemeni jail in February. Fourteen remain missing.