First Published: 2002-11-20

Yemen admits cooperating with US in missile attack

Interior Minister says al-Qaeda group killed planned sabotage operations against economically strategic facilities.


Middle East Online

A seventh person is being hunted by the authorities

SANAA - Yemen said Tuesday the missile strike that killed six alleged members of the al-Qaeda terror network on November 3 was part of a US-Yemeni "security cooperation" in the war against terrorism.

The statement released by the Yemeni government was the first time that Sanaa spoke openly of such cooperation in the attack, though it did not give details on the level of cooperation.

Interior Minister Rashad al-Alimi said the "hunt for the group which ended in their deaths ... took place in the context of security cooperation and coordination between Yemen and the United States to fight terrorism."

The minister's statement also released the names of the six victims, who were killed in their car which was hit in a US missile attack in the Marib region of eastern Yemen.

One of the six was identified as Qaed Salem Sunian al-Harthi, who Sanaa says is responsible for several "terrorist" attacks in Yemen.

The others were named as Munir Ahmed Abdullah al-Sauda, Saleh Hussein Ali al-Zono, Aoussan Ahmed al-Tirihi, Adel Nasser al-Sauda and Kamal Darwish. All were Yemeni citizens, while Darwish also had US nationality.

Last week, opposition parties in Yemen said the missile strike violated the country's sovereignty and accused the government of complicity.

Alimi said the group killed "planned sabotage operations against oil and economically strategic facilities" in Yemen.

He added that a seventh person, who managed to flee before the missile blew up the car, was being hunted by the authorities.

The six killed in the attack were wanted for alleged involvement in the suicide bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in the southern port of Aden that killed 17 American sailors in October 2000.

Yemeni authorities say they were also implicated in a series of bombings against government and military targets here.

On November 10, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice declined to confirm whether President George W. Bush had himself ordered the firing of the missile.

US news reports said the missile fired from a drone came under a presidential order authorizing the CIA to launch clandestine attacks against Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 3,000 people in the United States on September 11, 2001.


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