Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Obama Drops Charges Against USS Cole Bomber, Nashiri

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 9:21 am on Monday, August 30, 2010

1) What are they afraid of? Losing the case or exposing the Yemeni government officials complicity? Now that would be tacky. Nashiri got weapons permits and travel documents from the Interior Ministry and one report says he hid out in Yemen for months after while the Y govt denied he was there. 2) The old military commissions worked fine, the “reformed” commissions are supposed to be even better somehow. 3) What an insult it is to the US service members and the families of the deceased that politics again is determining US policy toward terrorists. WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the October 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major Al Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden. (Read on …)

Updated: Yemen hunting Abdel Rauf Nassib, previously arrested in Lauder (2004), released 2006

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, attacks, personalities — by Jane Novak at 1:19 pm on Saturday, August 21, 2010

They are all coming back to haunt us, every single one. Nassib was a former intelligence officer, acquitted in the USS Cole bombing. He survived the 2002 air strike on al Harithy, was captured with Dr. Fadl in 2004. Nassib was released in 2006, after the big prison break by 23 al Qaeda operatives.

AFP: The latest deaths add to an earlier toll of 11 soldiers and three civilians killed on Friday. The defence ministry said it had managed to identify one of the slain Al-Qaeda fighters as Adham Shibani, adding that the wounded militants were currently being interrogated.

The security forces were tracking “other terrorists” who took part in Friday’s fighting, the ministry said. The militants who managed to flee were named as Ahmed Mohammed Abdu Daradish, Abdel Rauf Abdullah Mohammed Nassib and Jalal Saleh Mohammed Saidi. (Read on …)

Yemen Captures Previously Surrendered al Qaeda Hizam Majali

Filed under: Air strike, USS Cole, Yemen, arrests, surrenders — by Jane Novak at 9:47 am on Thursday, August 19, 2010

Limburg defendant survives hellfire attack

Bombs a ship and tried to down a helicopter, sentenced to death in 2004, escapes Feb 2006, surrenders Aug 2006 and released, survives Arhab airstrike and captured again August 2010

Original post: In 2006, 23 high value al Qaeda prisoners escaped the Political Security jail in the capital Sana’a, aided by some government officials. Supposedly they used a spoon to dig the tunnel but actually used a drill according to other prisoners in the jail at the time. Some escapees were later killed by security forces. All the rest surrendered and were then released on loose house arrest. The only two who remain on the lam are Nasir al Wahishi and al Qasim al Reimi, currently the leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

At the time, the releases were condoned by some as the way things are done in Yemen. Now the state is labeling them as dangerous al Qaeda (and any convicted murder and friend of Fawaz al Reibi certainly is) which the security forces managed to catch to the glee of the US. Its a total crock. Either they called him up and asked nicely to go to jail for a few weeks or worse yet, the previously surrendered, convicted al Qaeda murderer was actually plotting attacks. Today’s news from AFP :

SANAA — Yemeni security forces have arrested a suspected Al-Qaeda militant who was sentenced to death for attacking a French ship and was among 23 prison escapees in 2006, a security official said on Thursday. Huzam Majali, who is considered a leading figure of Al-Qaeda in the area of Arhab, north of the capital, was arrested on Wednesday. “He surrendered after a successful raid by the anti-terrorism forces on a house he was hiding in,” the official said.

Hiding, why is he hiding when he made a deal with Yemen’s president for his release? The background:

Jamestown: Hizam Salih Ali Mujali (b. 1980): Hizam is the older brother of Arif Mujali. He is from the governorate of Sanaa. Yemeni forces arrested him along with Fawaz al-Rabay’i in late 2003. The two resisted arrested, and fired at the security forces, killing one soldier, Hamid Khasruf. Hizam, like his younger brother, Arif, was part of the 15-man cell that went on trial in 2004. Hizam was charged with attacking a Hunt Oil helicopter and for participating in the attack on the Limburg. On August 30, 2004, he was sentenced to death for killing Khasruf. This sentence was upheld by a higher court in February 2005. Both Hizam and Arif turned themselves into the government in August 2006 (al-Wasat, August 30, 2006). Their surrender was orchestrated by Sheikh Hadi Dalqim, a tribal leader from Marib, who served as a mediator between the government and the brothers. It is unclear whether Mujali’s sentence was commuted as a result of the negotiations.

Its certainly clear now.

Update: SABA the state propaganda agency:

SANA’A, Aug. 19 (Saba) – Al-Qaeda suspect Hizam Mujali has surrendered himself to the security authorities, the Defense Ministry-run reported on Thursday…He was also part of the infamous 2006 prison break. However, he eventually turned himself back in to the security authorities, striking a deal that would allow him to keep his freedom on the condition that he did not rejoin al Qaeda.

That condition appears to have recently been broken. The government targeted him in a raid launched in Arhab area December 2009. Although his brother Arif was captured, Hizam managed to escape.

The Defense Ministry said that security forces in Apian (Abyan) Province have captured after a manhunt operation a senior al-Qaeda suspect called Anis al-Oli. Security sources told the website arresting such suspects and many others came as a result of information have been taken from al-Qaeda leaders and elements have been arrested recently.

Fahd al Quso in new Al Qaeda in Yemen video threatens US

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, aq statements, personalities — by Jane Novak at 2:38 pm on Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Short version: Al Quso attended the al Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 that planned both the USS Cole attack and 9/11. Other attendees included Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Khallad bin Attash, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Hambali. Yazid Sufaat, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. Al Quso was part of the conspiracy that targeted the USS Cole in October 2000 in the port of Aden. On day of the attack, al Quso was supposed to video the attack, which killed 17 US service members and wounded 49. He told investigators that he overslept. He was jailed in 2002, escaped prison in 2003 and indicted on 50 counts of terror related charges in US Federal court. He was returned to jail in 2004. In 2007, al Quso was given a early release by the Yemeni government within a larger pattern of al Qaeda releases, defended by many as “co-optation” by the Saleh regime, when it is the Saleh regime itself that has been co-opted. Here in 2010, al Quso makes an AQAP video threatening the US.

The danger of al Quso in particular is that he is trusted by bin Laden, has operational experience, international connections and already blew up a US warship, so we could expect his next plan to be even bigger. On the other hand, my take on Al Qaeda in Yemen’s strategy is that they are trying to suck the US troops into Yemen. And their media strategy reflects that. And that would generate substantial opposition in the heavily armed country from many with no affiliation or sympathy to al Qaeda.

Memri: On May 26, 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a 55-minute video containing new statements by Fahd Al-Quso, a senior Al-Qaeda operative who is under U.S. indictment for his alleged role in the USS Cole bombing. This is the first time that Al-Quso, whom Yemen released from prison in 2007, has appeared in an AQAP production. The new release is also the origin of the footage of Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that was leaked to ABC. In addition, the video contains statements by Othman Al-Ghamdi, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee whom the video now refers to as an AQAP commander, as well as Qasim Al-Rimi, AQAP’s chief military commander. The video is dated Rabi’ I 1431, i.e. February-March 2010. The video praises the Yemeni tribes and mentions the tribal affiliations of the various AQAP operatives it eulogizes. A number of them are from the ‘Awalik, Anwar Al-Awlaki’s tribe. Fahd Al-Quso, himself from the ‘Awalik, specifically mentions Anwar Al-Awlaki.

For a comprehensive overview of the bombing, see my earlier report The USS Cole bombing, a seven year perspective. Excerpt below:

(Read on …)

al Kirby: Just Give Us the Money

Filed under: USS Cole — by Jane Novak at 7:52 am on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I’ve been shocked by the US willingness to work with such a lying, stealing, cheating, two-timing, double dealing crook like Saleh, after he already screwed the US during the USS Cole investigation. And then it hit me. Old habits die hard.

At the link is a video from BBC of Dr. al Qirby proclaiming Yemen will accept any and all conditions on donor aid.

The Yemeni Foreign minister, Dr Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, denies that Yemen has been failing to tackle al-Qaeda but he says the international community needs to provide more aid to the country to help them defeat terrorism.

Yemen is asking for aid to also reduce poverty in a country that is one of the poorest in the Middle East.

Denying the money would disappear into corrupt hands, he said the government will accept conditions on how and where the aid is spent.

A good overview of the complexities in a write up at Chatham House.

Yemen al Qaeda Threatens International Fleet

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, TI: External, USA, USS Cole, pirates — by Jane Novak at 9:49 am on Monday, December 28, 2009

I’ve always been concerned about that, “naval jihad” against the assorted western navies on anti-piracy ops in the Bab al Mendab. To the extent that Somali and Yemeni al Qaeda are in contact, and the pirates are already paying for intel on where the ships are, the sea is a potential theater of operations as it was in both the USS Cole and Limburg attacks. There was a statement from al Qaeda Central calling for naval jihad in Spring 2008, I think it was. To follow, the latest ramblings from the Yemeni fanatics in response to the first air strike, here at NEFA:

“And lastly, we call upon the proud tribes of Yemen—people of support and victory—and the people of the Arabian Peninsula, to face the crusader campaign and their cooperatives on the peninsula of Muhammad, prayer and peace upon him, and that’s through attacking their military bases, intelligence embassies, and their fleets that exist on the water and land of the Arabian Peninsula; until we stop the continuous massacres on the Muslim countries.”

Fahd al Quso Interview at al Jazeera, Update: Newly Listed Most Wanted Terrorist

Filed under: USS Cole, anwar — by Jane Novak at 1:28 pm on Thursday, December 24, 2009

Update: According to Yemenat, the Supreme Security Committee said one air strike today was on al Quso’s farm. Al Quso is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. Is that new? They were both indicted after the 2003 escape, but I thought only al Badawi made it to the most wanted list. Wow, yes it is new, last month (??!!) according to the interview.


In addition to the interview published today with Anwar Awlaki, Fahd al Quso gave an interview a few days ago that was published today at al Jazeera. ( This is the interview link here.) He said (roughly translated) the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which interrogated him after the attack on the 2000 al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole, believed there is a link between the attack and important Yemeni official figures including Brigadier General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, half-brother of the President, the Yemeni Islamic Reform Party’s leader, Sheikh Abdul Majid Al Zindani, and the son of the president, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh. According to his knowledge, he says they were not…

Al Quso said he was released by judicial decision in 2007, and that Washington objected to his release from prison. Al Quso also said U.S. investigators interrogated him directly after his arrest in Yemen. They told him that foreknowledge of the bombing of the Cole means “to participate and punishable by death,” pointing out that Yemen’s judiciary sentenced on such participation.

أجرى الحوار: عبد الإله حيدر شائع Interview conducted by: Abdul Elah Haidar,

كيف تلقيت نبأ إدراجك ضمن قائمة المطلوبين العالمية التي أصدرها مكتب التحقيقات الفدرالي (إف بي آي) منتصف الشهر الماضي؟ How I learned enrollment on the wanted list issued by the World Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) mid-last month?

تفاجأت لأن القضية انتهت قانونيا باعتقالي ومحاكمتي، وقضيت محكوميتي في السجن وفق المدة القانونية وخرجت بقرار قضائي في العام 2007. Surprised because the case ended legally arrested me, try me, and I spent Movernmiti in prison, according to the legal limit and went out by a judicial decision in 2007. (Read on …)

It all goes back to the Malaysia meeting

Filed under: USS Cole — by Jane Novak at 2:38 pm on Sunday, August 30, 2009

Really it does. For more (or perhaps all known open source- its really that good), see the History Commons Entity, USS Cole

Somewhat related and because I dont know where else to throw it:

From the trial findings of the Cole families vs. the Sudan

the Court FINDS as a fact, that the explosives used in the Cole attack were sent by Al Qaeda operatives in Sudan. This finding is corroborated by the testimony of one of Bin Laden’s lieutenants in Sudan, Jamal Al-Fadl, who testified in criminal proceedings against Bin Laden arising out of the 1998 embassy bombings. (Ex. 32, United States v. Bin Laden, Case No. 198CR1023, Trial Tr. Feb. 6, 2001). Mr. Al-Fadl stated in sworn testimony in a trial before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that he worked under Bin Laden in Sudan; that he stored four crates of weapons and explosives at a farm in Sudan owned by Bin Laden; and that he shipped the four crates in an Al Qaeda-owned boat from a facility owned by the Sudanese military in Port Sudan to Yemen, where they were to be used to “fight the Communists.”(Ex. 32 at 262, 336-40.)

USS Cole CDR Lippold: Yemen- Unreliable and Untrustworthy

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, USS Cole, arrests, attacks, gitmo, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 12:15 pm on Friday, June 12, 2009

Truth to power:

Washington, DC – Kirk S. Lippold, Former USS Cole Commander and Senior Military Fellow at Military Families United, released the following statement concerning the recently reported news that the Obama Administration is nearing a deal to send a considerable portion of the estimated 100 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi “terrorist rehabilitation centers.”

“The impact of turning Yemeni detainees over to either Saudi Arabia or Yemen is an unacceptable compromise to our national security. Saudi Arabia has proven ineffective in rehabilitating terrorists and Yemen has consistently proven to be an untrustworthy and unreliable partner in the war on terror.

Transferring Yemeni detainees to Saudi Arabia will inevitably lead to more terrorists on the battlefield. It will endanger the lives of our military for a second time. Currently, one in seven former GITMO detainees has rejoined the fight. If President Obama transfers these detainees to Saudi Arabia or Yemen, he is putting the national security interests of the United States second to nations that still form the cradle of al Qaeda recruiting efforts and their campaign of terror. In addition, this transfer says to our troops and their families that the campaign promise to close GITMO is more important than their safety and their lives.

The lenient treatment of those who attacked USS Cole is the starkest evidence of the Yemeni government’s complicity in supporting those who carried out the attack. The lead co-conspirator, al Badawi, is currently held in minimal security, if in jail at all. The government’s joke of a trial, where he received the death penalty and then escaped twice before being recaptured, demonstrates their inability to even wage the most basic war tactics against al Qaeda. The USS Cole families and many of America’s military families have already paid too dear a price in the war on terror. With each detainee transfer, it becomes more and more evident that the President’s priorities do not lie with our men and women in uniform and those who bear the burden and the sacrifice of the War on Terror – the families.”

“Yemen’s Terror Problem”

Filed under: USA, USS Cole, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 6:33 am on Thursday, May 21, 2009

The WSJ finds the US under Bush and Obama oddly reluctant to push Saleh on the Cole bombers (lets not forget al Quso), preferring to indulge him instead, while Yemen descends into a failed terrorist state.

The root of the problem is the government’s tacit non-aggression pact with al Qaeda. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh tells American officials he can’t push too hard, and for too long the U.S. has indulged him. The Saudis used to play this same double game. Then al Qaeda attacks killed some 200 people and jolted them into a crackdown. The Kingdom has been free of terrorist violence for the past three years.

But the threat is now regathering in Yemen. In 2002, a CIA Hellfire missile took out Abu Ali al-Harithi, the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen. His replacement was also captured, but then the government backed off. A new generation of leaders emerged after 23 Yemenis, including at least a dozen al Qaeda members, dug a tunnel out of a Yemen jail cell to a nearby mosque. The escape had all the signs of an inside job, and most of the escapees are still free.

Among them is Nasir al-Wahayshi, a 33-year-old who now runs al Qaeda in Yemen. In January, the group “merged” with the Saudi al Qaeda chapter, with al-Wahayshi now “emir of the Arabian peninsula.” By the Yemen foreign minister’s own estimate, between 1,000-1,500 al Qaeda and like-minded fighters are in the country. The U.S. embassy was attacked with a mortar last March and six suicide bombers blew themselves up in front of the compound in September, killing 13.

The U.S. is in talks with the Saudis and Yemenis about the Gitmo detainees. American officials favor putting them through a Saudi rehabilitation center before release. That’s almost as risky as sending them directly to Yemen. Eleven former Saudi Gitmo inmates who went through rehab are back on the government’s most wanted terrorist list. Said Ali al-Shihri turned up in a January video as al Qaeda’s No. 2 man on the Arabian peninsula based in Yemen. If some of the Yemenis rejoined the global jihad — and the odds suggest they would — all that alleged “global good will” won for closing Gitmo will have come at far too high a price.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has other unfinished terrorist business in Yemen. Jamal al-Badawi has confessed his role in recruiting the suicide bombers and renting the skiff used in the U.S.S. Cole attack, in sworn testimony to the FBI admissable in U.S. court. Seventeen Americans died in the 2000 bombing. A Yemeni court convicted and sentenced him to death, but he twice escaped from prison. Recaptured, he supposedly pledged loyalty to President Saleh and was freed in 2007. In response to U.S. pressure, Yemen only last fall put al-Badawi back in custody.

For unexplained reasons, the Bush and Obama Administrations have been reluctant to push Mr. Saleh to hand over al-Badawi and others behind the Cole bombing to the U.S. for trial. The al-Badawi case is a good test of Yemen’s willingness to stand up to al Qaeda and reverse its descent into a failed terrorist state.

Zuhair and the Cole

Filed under: Other Countries, USS Cole, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 3:15 pm on Wednesday, January 28, 2009


However, it seems that his deportation from Bosnia and Herzegovina, either to Serbia or Bahrain, will be delayed for some time. The Bosnian Federation Prosecutor’s Office is also hoping to question Al Hamad with regard to a handful of murders allegedly committed by Mujahideen fighters. (Read on …)

Hamdan Released in Yemen

Filed under: USS Cole, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 6:02 pm on Monday, January 12, 2009

Bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, was released in Yemen this week Yemeni authorities confirm. The US Military Tribunal sentenced Hamdan to five years, including time served, and returned him to Yemen in November. He served the next and last month of his sentence in jail and is now free.

Follow up measures by the Yemeni government are likely to be lax, considering even terrorists convicted of murder in Yemen get amnesty. (I am referencing the perpetrators of the 2000 USS Cole terror attack that killed 17 US sailors. The terrorists, according to the WaPo, are all free.) Like the terrorists Yemen has already freed, Hamdan gave a pledge to refrain from violence. Yemen’s rehabilitation program strives to convince the jihaddists that President Saleh is not an apostate. The program is widely understood to be a mechanism of expedited release.

The sentence meted out to Hamdan is in stark contrast to that given to that given to Ali Hamza Bahlul, who was sentenced to life in prison for solicitation to commit murder. Bahlul created jihaddist recruiting videos for bin Laden. The reasoning behind his conviction is very similar to that used by the International Criminal Court to convict Rwandan radio station operators of incitement to murder for broadcasting calls to kill Tutsis’s duing the Rwandan genocide. Bahlul is both clearly guilty and clearly a continuing threat. Next up for the Military Commissions is al-Nashiri, allegedly a major figure in the USS Cole bombing along with several other terror attacks and plots. If there is another trial.

Focusing on the Military Commissions themselves, its clear they have been conducted with a high degree of professionalism. As one of the victims’ family members told us, “Thank God we have individuals who are willing to see that justice is served… We are extremely proud of the prosecutions professionalism, dedication and their diligence in their work.”

In Yemen, the same backwards farce continues. The latest outrage by that psychotic mafia is the attempted assassination of a blogger and the imprisonment and torture of several others. Torture in Yemen is real torture. See our earlier report, Witness Testimony From the Dungeons of Yemeni Prisons and note some of these victims are 10 and 12 year old children. What is the Obamamessiah to do?

Not only does Yemen torture its children, but it has been documented to be committing crimes against humanity by withholding food and medicine from the civilian population in the war torn Sa’ada region, while bombing them. Tom Joscelyn of the Long War Journal sent me a breakdown of the remaining Yemeni detainees by “red flags”. And the vast majority have three of more indicators. Some of them are bad dudes (and some not), and recidivism rates are high for committed jihaddists.

News today from the Obama camp is that he will order Gitmo closed within weeks of his ascention to power. What the plan is after that is unclear. If they come onto US soil, and are found not guilty, they will be able to apply for political asylum to remain in the US according to current law. If they are relased to Yemen, they will be freed to operate in an environment that lacks of counter-terror restraints and encourages jihaddists mentality.

Sri Lankan FM: USS Cole Attack Mirrored 1991 LTTE Attack

Filed under: USS Cole, attacks — by Jane Novak at 11:01 am on Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Minister Bogollagama spoke of Sri Lanka’s deeply rooted democratic tradition, which he traced to the granting of universal adult franchise in 1931 and said that the trappings of democracy, manifested by the right of the people to go to the polls periodically and elect a government of their choice or in the many magnificent edifices housing the seat of Parliament, the Presidency or the Palaces of justice, do not qualify a country to be a true democratic state. Real democracy becomes alive in a state where the government is accountable to the people and where the rule of law is upheld by a fearless and independent judiciary.

Speaking further, the Foreign Minister drew the attention of the assembled august gathering to the similarity of the methods employed by the LTTE and the terrorists who had staged the multiple attacks on Mumbai last month and said that the fact that these attacks were committed by terrorists getting in from the Arabian Sea aboard a hijacked vessel, underscored the need for the international community to beef up maritime security. He recalled his address to the Shangri-La Forum in June 2007,where he had pointed out the Al Qaeda suicide attack on ‘USS Cole’ in October 2000,as a copycat of the LTTE’s attack on a Sri lankan naval vessel ‘Abheetha’ in 1991,which had been even acknowledged by the Sea Tigers chief, Soosai.

An analysis by Starfor finds similarity between the Mumbai attack and the ‘93 NY landmarks plot. The point being the long shelf life of a good plot and the web connecting major players and groups. I remain hopeful that the Mumbai attack was not the sign referenced in the November 9 statement in al-Quds Al-Arabya.

Yemenis Ramzi bin al Shaibh and Walid bin Attash Seek to Admit Guilt in 9/11 Plot

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, USS Cole, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 11:51 am on Monday, December 8, 2008

Update: Judge refuses the plea which includes the condition by the five detainees that they are immediatelyh sentenced to death, that’s their request which the judge refused.

Both are also accused in the USS Cole bombing, which they should hopefully be tried for as well.

Its unclear at this point if this is a formal pleading or just an admission of guilt. In a letter to the court, they requested a hearing to announce their confessions. The court is determining if it is proper to plead guilty in a death penalty case or if a defense is automatically required. The two also fired their lawyers amid the lawyers’ charges the defendants were overly influenced by Khalid Sheik Mohammed in making the guilty plea.


GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Confessed al Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four 9/11 accused co-conspirators offered to plead guilty Monday to orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The surprise turnabout came in what was meant to be a routine pre-trial hearing at the war court, or military commission.

The Pentagon seeks the death penalty in their case.

But the defendants made no mention of the death penalty or ”martyrdom” as Mohammed calls it, during the morning session before Army Col. Stephen Henely. (Read on …)

Convicted Al-Qaeda Operative Still Bloodthirsty

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 8:32 am on Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Miami Herald sent a reporter to Gitmo for the trial, and you can see the difference in the depth of the reporting from the majority of the big outlets that are just reprinting the AP version.

Bin Laden cohort defiant after getting life sentence
A military jury convicted Osama bin Laden’s media secretary of three war crimes charges then condemned the terrorist to serve life in prison; he responded with defiance.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A military jury Monday convicted Osama bin Laden’s media secretary of war crimes for creating an al Qaeda recruiting video that prosecutors argued incited suicide bombers. Within hours, the jury ordered him to serve life in prison.

The convict, Ali Hamza al Bahlul, about 40, responded by breaking his week-long boycott of the trial with a 50-minute anti-American monologue.

He declared his devotion to Allah, berated the United States for the plight of the Palestinians and, noting his election-eve conviction, announced that radical Islam’s war with the West would persist with whoever succeeds President Bush.

”We have fought and we fight and will fight any government that governs America,” said Bahlul. He waved a poem he wrote in Arabic in praise of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Storm of the Airplanes, and said he had volunteered for that suicide mission.

Until he was convicted, the Yemeni father of four had declined to mount a defense and sat silently, occasionally smiling at the mention of his handiwork. (Read on …)

Update from Gary at the Bahlul Trial in Gitmo: Thank God we have people like these

Filed under: USS Cole — by Jane Novak at 3:04 pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I agree.

Gary’s such a nice guy, well to me anyway. He made a post with his take on the process and players:

Thank-God we have individuals who are willing to see that justice is served against terrorists. Otherwise if the liberals had their way they would all be released….

The Military Commission has treated my wife and myself with great respect. They have worked their butts off on this trial. And did an excellent job in court at obtaining justice for our son and his 16 mates. All the military people here at Gitmo have been kind to us and have been supportive of us as well. We are extremely proud of the prosecutions professionalism, dedication and their diligence in their work. And of all the sailors, air force, army, marines, and coast guard members. We were and are impressed with their professionalism and will remember them for ever.

Check Gary’s blog for the whole post.

Second Yemeni on Trial at Gitmo

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, arrests, personalities — by Jane Novak at 2:51 pm on Saturday, November 1, 2008

Witness: Gitmo detainee wants Americans targeted

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – Osama bin Laden’s former media aide produced a video portraying the United States as evil to motivate suicide attacks by al-Qaeda recruits, an ex-FBI agent testified at a war-crimes trial Wednesday.
Prosecutors ran a video allegedly put together by Ali Hamza al-Bahlul showing bin Laden and other terror group leaders calmly describing why they believe Muslims must wage jihad and defeat “American infidels.” It also had footage of al-Qaeda training camps, Israeli soldiers beating suspects, U.S. presidents visiting troops in the Middle East and wounded Muslim children.

“Muslims don’t like to die,” former FBI agent and al-Qaeda expert Ali Soufan testified. “This is to instigate recruitments for suicide bombings.”

The video also shows news images of the USS Cole, then cartoonish images of an explosion in an amateurish attempt to depict al-Qaeda’s bombing of the Navy warship in 2000.

The slender, bearded 39-year-old Yemeni defendant, who is refusing to speak during his trial, pounded the defense table when the video showed Muslim women being manhandled by security agents. He leaned forward with interest when images of bin Laden appeared.

Soufan testified that al-Bahlul, whom he interrogated in 2002, considers all Americans – even Muslims – to be enemies.

“He believes this war is only the beginning. It is Armageddon,” Soufan said. “He said America only understands blood.” (Read on …)

Open Letter to President Saleh on the 8th Anniversary of the USS Cole Attack

Filed under: USS Cole — by Jane Novak at 7:00 pm on Sunday, October 12, 2008

from Gary Swenchonis Sr., father of Gary Swenchonis Jr., killed in the terror attack on the USS Cole, October 12, 2000

October 10, 2008
President Saleh,

It’s that time of year again; yet another anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole in Port Aden, Yemen on October 12th, 2000. In that attack, our son and sixteen of his mates were brutally murdered, and 39 other sailors were wounded.

Since the last time I wrote you a year ago, many changes, some positive and some not, have occurred in relation to the attack on the Cole and the status of your corrupt regime. First and foremost, we wrote our Texas representative and members of Congress asking for a Congressional Hearing into why our government still supports your dictatorship after you gave the plotters and planners of the Cole attack reduced sentences and pardons for the murders of 17 American Sailors. The rest of the convicted killers conveniently escaped from your prisons. And some remain free to this day, eight years after the attack.

Our Senators have kept us informed as to our requests. We received word recently from them that next year Congress will hold Judiciary Committee hearings. We are extremely grateful to the politicians who have decided that its way past the time to review and hopefully take action against you and your regime. And to put an end to all your worthless and broken promises that you made to two American presidents and our government.

It can now be stated as fact, President Saleh, that FBI Agent John O’Neil and his team were correct in their suspicion that you and your government knew much more about the pending attack on the Cole than you admitted after the attack. Unfortunately, Ambassador Bodine and President Clinton refused to let the FBI follow up on their leads and question members of your government and family after the attack. Instead FBI agent O’Neil was kicked out of your country for wanting to conduct a proper investigation. How ironic that he would be killed in the 9/11 attack less than one year later; an attack that-if Presidents Clinton and Bush had heeded his requests-would not have happened in all probability. (Read on …)

PSA: US Congress to Hold Judiciary Meetings on USS Cole, 2009

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 8:18 pm on Thursday, October 2, 2008

Congress will hold judicary meetings next year on the USS Cole bombing and investigation in 2009. The next step after that is congressional hearings.

Cole bomber earlier released from custody, Bin Laden letter found with al-Badawi?

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, arrests, attacks, personalities — by Jane Novak at 8:42 am on Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This article is from the year 2000. I hadn’t seen it before so I need to throw it somewhere. The letter is an allegation and was never turned over.


One of the suicide bombers who attacked the destroyer Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden last year had been arrested — and released — just 17 months earlier by Yemeni authorities on charges of conspiring to kidnap Americans working in Yemen.

The suspect, Hassan Said Awadh Khemeri, a Yemeni who had trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan run by Osama bin Laden, was one of several suspects in the Cole attack who had been arrested in prior cases but released, according to interviews with officials in Yemen and the United States.

These interviews suggest that Yemeni authorities knew more about the men who attacked the Cole than they have acknowledged, and that they failed to scrutinize the ties of men long suspected of extremist activity.

American law enforcement officials complain that Yemeni officials have withheld information about the Cole plot from the United States. Indeed, several American investigators suspect that some Yemeni government officials knew about the attack before it was launched on Oct. 12 last year.

One Yemeni official familiar with his country’s investigation has charged that crucial evidence that he says links Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the bombing has never been turned over to the F.B.I.

The evidence cited by the official included a letter believed to have been written by Mr. bin Laden and found in the house of one of the suspected Cole plotters in Yemen. It could provide the firmest link yet between Al Qaeda and the bombing, which killed 17 American sailors. (Read on …)

Al-Nashiri Charged in the USS Cole Bombing

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, gitmo — by Jane Novak at 1:20 am on Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Pentagon has charged Gitmo detainee Abdelrahim al-Nashiri in the October 2000 USS Cole bombing which left 17 US service members killed and 49 wounded in the port of Aden, Yemen. Charges include:

• conspiracy to violate the law of war
• murder in violation of the law of war
• treachery or perfidy
• terrorism
• destruction of property in violation of the law of war
• intentionally causing serious bodily injury
• providing material support to terrorism
• attempted murder

Fahd al-Quso’s Free, Received Foreign Money Transfers

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, USS Cole, personalities — by Jane Novak at 6:09 pm on Sunday, June 22, 2008

But never fear: the Yemeni government talked to his guarantors.

Fahd al-Quso, convicted USS Cole bomber freed by Yemeni authorities, was involved in recent terror attacks and is supposedly being hunted. His family warned the Shabwa governor in a letter not to take action and expressed willingness to disclose the source of international financial transfers recieved by al-Quso.

Yemen Post

In a letter directed to Interior Minister, Political Security and Shabwa Governor, the family of Fahd Al-Qas’e, one of those accused of attacking USS Cole, warned against any assault or taking any measure against him.

Al-Qus’e was convicted in 2004 by the State Specialized Penal Court of being trained at the hands of Jamal Al-Badawi for using the camera to make footages of the USS Cole bombing in 2000 off Aden’s coasts.

According to the indictment, Al-Qus’e got the keys of the building from which he took footages of bombing after receiving signals on pager with the code 1010.

He also traveled to Afghanistan where he was trained on how to make explosives, anti-aircrafts missiles and other weapons.

Though he was sentenced for 10 years, Al-Qas’e was released after serving a short term in prison. He is now hunted by security forces following a series of terrorist acts that targeted oil facilities and foreign interests.

Further, security authorities also summoned his guarantors after they tracked money transfers from foreign parties outside the country.

However, the family asserted that these transfers come from relatives and sons who are living abroad, hinting that none can hold them on account for that only when these sums are exploited for acts that undermine security and stability.

They also expressed their readiness to talk with security over the source of these transfers, maintaining they reject any measure that runs counter to law.

In related news, the Sana’a-based U.S. Embassy renewed its request for extraditing Jabr Al-Bana, a Yemeni-American citizen to face the accusations raised against him in the United States.

The Embassy spokesman stated on Saturday that talks are underway in order to secure extraditing Jabr Al-Bana and Jamal Al-Badawi accused of plotting the attack that targeted USS Cole in 2000. The operation left 17 American Marines dead and dozens others injured.

US Embassy pursues extradiction or at least imprisonment in Yemen:

News Yemen The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a said the United States believes that Jamal al-Badawi and Jabr al-Banna, wanted by US, should be extradited to the United Sates to be tried before a US court. (Read on …)

Ali Soufan Nails It in an Oped About the USS Cole Bombing and its Aftermath

Filed under: USS Cole — by Jane Novak at 8:32 am on Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bingo! Good stuff.

Coddling Terrorists In Yemen
By Ali H. Soufan
Saturday, May 17, 2008; A17

Seven years after al-Qaeda terrorists Jamal al-Badawi and Fahd al-Quso confessed to me their crucial involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole, and three years after they were convicted in a Yemeni court — where a judge imposed a death sentence on Badawi — they, along with many other al-Qaeda terrorists, are free. On Oct. 12, 2000, when I flew to Yemen to lead the FBI’s Cole investigation, I had no idea how uncooperative the Yemeni government would initially be. Nor could I have imagined how disconnected from reality the U.S. ambassador to Yemen then, Barbara K. Bodine, would prove.

I have hesitated in the past to share my view of the conflict between Bodine and the FBI’s counterterrorism leader, John O’Neill. I feel compelled, however, to respond to Bodine’s recent comments, which slander the efforts of many dedicated counterterrorism agents and divert attention from the significant terrorist problem within Yemen, our “ally” in the “war on terror.”

A recent Post report on Yemen allowing al-Qaeda operatives to go free offered insight into the challenges the FBI faced. Bodine was quoted in the article not urging the Yemeni government to rearrest the terrorists but, instead, denigrating the agents who investigated the attack. She faulted the FBI as being slow to trust Yemeni authorities and said agents were “dealing with a bureaucracy and a culture they didn’t understand. . . . We had one group working on a New York minute, and another on a 4,000-year-old history.”

In fact, our team included several Arab American agents who understood the culture and the region. Even so, such comments were irrelevant. The FBI left Yemen with the terrorists in jail.

It is true that while tracking the terrorists we worked “on a New York minute.” We owed that much to the sailors murdered on the Cole and to all innocent people who remained targets as long as the terrorists were free.

It is also true that we did not trust some Yemeni officials. We had good reason not to:

When the FBI arrived in Yemen, some government officials tried to convince us that the explosion had been caused by a malfunction in the Cole’s operating systems. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh even asked the U.S. government for money to clean up port damage the United States “caused.”

After we took representatives from various security agencies aboard the Cole and proved to them that the explosion was caused by an external attack, some Yemeni officials claimed that those responsible had died in the attack and that there was no reason to keep investigating. Similar excuses and smoke screens were rampant.

We faced constant threats to our safety, not just from terrorists. Members of the Yemeni parliament, in fiery speeches broadcast on official television, called for “jihad” to be declared against us. The hotel where we stayed was shot at and received at least one bomb threat, prompting an evacuation.

Rather than supporting us, Bodine declared John O’Neill, a man greatly respected by his Yemeni counterparts, persona non grata.

Many American officials in Yemen, including members of Bodine’s team, shared our frustration. Even victims of the Cole were offended by her. I’ll never forget one sailor telling me that Bodine visited the ship soon after the attack and acted “as if we had just inconvenienced her country.”

We had other reasons to be suspicious. For example, the State Department issued a “Search for Justice” poster offering a reward for information related to the bombing. After the poster was translated into Arabic, it ended up warning anyone against helping us. Was it a mistake, or calculated interference?

Ultimately, many Yemeni officials cooperated with us. We developed partnerships based on mutual respect and understanding — thanks to the dedication of agents on the ground.

Using DNA, we eventually discovered the bombers’ identities, and, through other forms of forensics, we were able to identify more terrorists, track them down and prosecute them in Yemeni courts. Working together, we disrupted further terrorist plots and protected U.S. interests. We were successful, and the release of al-Qaeda operatives cannot be blamed on the FBI.

FBI Director Robert Mueller was in Yemen last month demanding that the terrorists be held accountable for their crimes. It is difficult, however, for one hand to clap alone. The U.S. government needs a coordinated strategy on Yemen.

If Yemen is truly an ally, it should act as an ally. Until it does, U.S. aid to Yemen should be reevaluated. It will be impossible to defeat al-Qaeda if our “allies” are freeing the convicted murderers of U.S. citizens and terrorist masterminds while receiving direct U.S. financial aid.

The families of the victims of the USS Cole, and all Americans who want to see terrorists face justice, should be assured that this is not over. Many determined agents will not rest until justice is served. Their efforts, thankfully, receive unconditional support from Mueller. In the FBI, we believe that fidelity to our fallen heroes’ bravery exemplifies true integrity and real patriotism.

The writer was an FBI supervisory special agent from 1997 to May 2005.

Ew-rah. That needed to be said.

Update: published also on Al-Sahwa, website of the Islah party.

Where’s Al-Badawi

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen, personalities — by Jane Novak at 7:25 pm on Saturday, May 10, 2008

So if he’s really in jail, then its not a problem is it? The fact that the story doesn’t say Saleh agreed to it indicates he’s not. And furthermore, there would be a lot less tension about Yemen’s refusal to extradicte al-Badawi if he was in jail, where he should be. The US never asked for him until recently.

U.S. “uncertain” about USS Cole bomber’s incarceration

Sana’a, May 10, 2008 (yemenonline) – The U.S. State Department asked the Yemeni authorities to allow some of its embassy officials in Sana’a to visit USS Cole bomber Jamal al-Badawi without a prior permission.

A State Department source said that this request comes as U.S. doubts regarding al-Badawi’s incarceration are growing.

Source: Radio SAWA

All the USS Cole Bombers Free in Yemen, Journalist on Trial for Terrorism

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, USS Cole, Yemen, personalities — by Jane Novak at 8:24 am on Sunday, May 4, 2008

On October 12, 2000, two suicide bombers on an explosives laden dingy attacked a US destroyer in the Gulf of Aden, killing 17 US service members and injuring 49 others. The perpetrators of this terror plot are all free in Yemen despite being found guilty in court and sentenced to jail.

If Saudi Arabia pardoned 9/11 highjacker Mohammed Atta while imprisoning a completely innocent journalist on terrorism charges, the US would be in an uproar. But that’s exactly what is going on in Yemen. The USS Cole bombers are free. My good friend, the journalist al-Khaiwani, is on trial in terrorism court. Sentencing is May 21.

Regular readers are familiar with the Yemeni regime’s habitual accommodation of al-Qaeda terrorists, but this is a great article from the WaPo on the bombers. Besides what I’ve written, its the first comprehensive treatment of what happened to the bombers after the trial. Much of details we published on the last anniversary, but the WaPo incorporates the recent updates on the release of mastermind Jamal al-Badawi and apparently now, also Fahd al-Quso. The article also has some interesting quotes.

One thing that’s new to me is al-Nashiri was in Taiz after the bombing, but the Yemeni government insisted he was out of the country. This type of obstruction is actually quite in character with the regime’s approach to the USS Cole investigation and, generally speaking, to the murderers of US soldiers whether on the Cole or in Iraq:

Amid the friction, U.S. and Yemeni investigators soon identified the ringleader of the attack as Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent who served as al-Qaeda’s operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula.

At the time, Yemeni authorities insisted that Nashiri had fled the country before the Cole bombing. But a senior Yemeni official said that was not the case and that Yemeni investigators had located Nashiri in Taizz, a city about 90 miles northwest of Aden, soon after the attack. The official said Nashiri spent several months in Taizz, where he received high-level protection from the government. “We knew where he was, but we could not arrest him,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation.

Nashiri eventually left Yemen to prepare other attacks on U.S. targets in the Persian Gulf, U.S. officials said. He was captured in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002 and handed over to the CIA. He was detained in the CIA’s secret network of overseas prisons until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006.

Sooner or later attention will turn to the fact that regime affiliated persons are using tools of the state in a variety of ways to produce and facilitate suicide bombers of all nationalities that kill our troops in Iraq. In 2005-2006, over 1800 Yemeni jihaddists went to Iraq with the assistance of Yemeni military commanders and others within the Yemeni administration. That’s another part of the paradigm that needs coverage.

It’s nice to see some US governmental outrage about the release of the USS Cole bombers. The families need to know that, so do our soldiers and the rest of the country.

Q: “After we worked day and night to bring justice to the victims and prove that these Qaeda operatives were responsible, we’re back to square one,” said Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent and a lead investigator into the bombing. “Do they have laws over there or not? It’s really frustrating what’s happening.”

A: Yes, Yemen does have laws and they are quite consistently applied. This is no anomaly. One way to discern what the laws actually are is to compare the lenient treatment of al-Qaeda with harsh treatment of a) criminals and tribal kidnappers, b) the Houthis and the 700,000 people in Sa’ada or c) the southerners and their leaders. It is often said that Saleh is bending to public pressure on the al-Qaeda issue; however he refuses to bend to public pressure on any other issue, be it the south, Sa’ada, reform or even the fuel riots. It is an alliance, whether financially or ideologically driven. To stipulate that Saleh is unable to move against al-Qaeda in any way presupposes that the movement was always or has become as powerful as the military and tribal legs of the regime. The alternate view is that Saleh chooses not to antagonize al-Qaeda because it benefits him in some way or another. The current rash of missing mortars and nightime bombings of government buildings is a result of Saleh’s policy of appeasement, one way or another.

From the article:

Yemen’s interior minister, Rashad al-Alimi, said the deal-cutting was necessary because al-Qaeda has rebuilt its networks in Yemen and is targeting the government.

“Our battle with al-Qaeda is a long one,” he said. “It isn’t our battle only. Our tragedy — and what makes things worse — is that al-Qaeda is united. And our coalition is divided, even though we have a common enemy.”

Some Yemenis have questioned whether their government has other motives. One senior Yemeni official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Badawi and other al-Qaeda members have a long relationship with Yemen’s intelligence agencies and were recruited in the past to target political opponents.

Al-Qaeda functioning as a paramilitary of the Yemeni regime at the behest of the intel agencies and their commanders raises the question of the terms of the quid pro quo.

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