Top Qaeda leaders move to Yemen

2010-11-11 12:04

Kuwait City - A number of leading al-Qaeda members, including former spokesperson Suleiman Abu Ghaith of Kuwait, have moved from Iran to Yemen, a Kuwaiti daily said on Thursday citing an intelligence report.

The revelation was made in a classified Western intelligence report sent to security officials in the Gulf and a number of Arab countries, al-Qabas said, citing unnamed informed sources.

Several top al-Qaeda leaders fled to Iran when the US launched an invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks. Some have been imprisoned in Tehran.

"Some of these leaders however have moved to Yemen and have taken the charges of command and co-ordination of al-Qaeda operations," the report said.

Besides Abu Ghaith, they include Kuwaiti, Gulf and Arab nationals who are on internationally wanted lists, the report said. It did not say how the al-Qaeda operatives managed to escape from Iran.

Kuwait, a staunch US ally, stripped Abu Ghaith of Kuwaiti citizenship in October 2001 because of his alleged links to the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States.

Yemen faces a continuing threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the local branch of Osama bin Laden's extremist organisation. It is also fighting Shi'ite insurgents in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.

Gulf interior ministers expressed concern earlier this week over the "growing activity of the al-Qaeda terror network" following the interception of two parcel bombs addressed by jihadists in Yemen to synagogues in the United States.

In the wake of the parcel bomb plot, which was claimed by AQAP, US President Barack Obama said the United States would press ahead in a bid to "destroy" the group's affiliate in Yemen.

Washington has stepped up military assistance and training to Yemen amid warnings from intelligence officials of a "virulent" threat from al-Qaeda there.