Yemen court orders arrest of Awlaqi

2010-11-06 15:21

Sana'a - A Yemeni court ordered radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi on Saturday to appear before it on charges of links to al-Qaeda and incitement to kill foreigners, or face arrest by any means.

Judge Mohsen Alwan ordered the representative of the public prosecutor to inform the concerned authorities "to forcibly arrest... Anwar al-Awlaqi and ... Othman al-Awlaqi".

US-born Awlaqi and Othman al-Awlaqi, a relative, were both charged in absentia by a Sana'a court on Tuesday with "incitement to kill foreigners and members of security services".

The charges arose during the trial of Yemeni Hisham Mohammed Assem, who was in court to face charges of killing French energy contractor Jacques Spagnolo near Sana'a last month.

Prosecutors told the court, which specialises in terrorism cases, that Awlaqi had corresponded with Assem for months, encouraging him to kill foreigners.

All three men are accused of "forming an armed gang to carry out criminal acts and to target foreigners and security forces on behalf of al-Qaeda".

Assem, who denied the charges, said he was tortured and asked for a lawyer. The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

Awlaqi's tribe

Hours after the hearing, suspected al-Qaeda militants attacked an oil pipeline run by the Korea National Oil Corp in the southeastern Shabwa province controlled by Awlaqi's tribe.

The attack came just days after intercepted parcel bombs destined for Chicago synagogues were traced to Yemen, placing it in the spotlight.

The parcels containing the explosive PETN hidden in ink toner cartridges were found to have been freighted from Sana'a on commercial airlines.

Washington believes the parcel bombs, uncovered on Thursday in Britain and Dubai en route to the United States, were the work of Saudi militant Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a suspected Al-Qaeda bomb maker.

Awlaqi has not immediately been linked to the parcel bombs, but US officials have long accused him of instigating "terrorism" from Yemen, where he is believed to be hiding in a remote area of Shabwa.

In a May video posted on the internet, Awlaqi urged all Muslims serving in the US Army to follow the example of Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 comrades at Fort Hood base in Texas last November.

"What Nidal Hasan did was heroi... and I call on all Muslims serving in the US army to follow his path," Awlaqi said in a video posted on jihadist websites, the US monitoring group SITE reported.

A problem

In the video, posted by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), he also defended Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian student accused of the botched Christmas Day attack and said Sana'a is collaborating with Washington to attack Yemenis.

US Homeland Security and Counter terrorism Adviser John Brennan earlier this year accused Awlaqi of instigating "terrorism".

"Mr Awlaqi is a problem. He's clearly a part of al-Qaeda in (the) Arabian Peninsula. He's not just a cleric. He is in fact trying to instigate terrorism," he told CNN.

In April, a US official said the Obama administration had authorised the targeted killing of Awlaqi, after American intelligence agencies concluded the cleric was directly involved in anti-US plots.

In July, Washington placed Awlaqi on its list of terrorism supporters, freezing his financial assets and banning any transactions with him.

Read more on:    al-aqaeda  |  yemen  |  security
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