Terrorism: August 30, 2002


Yemen, the home of the bin Laden family, has lots of Osama bin Laden fans and al Qaeda activists. U.S. Special Forces have been training Yemen army units to better deal with heavily armed "friends of Osama." In Early August, Yemen set up an anti-terrorism agency. Yemen has been anxious to keep local terrorists under control, especially since some of them see the Yemen government as a suitable target for attacks. While Yemen has been the most cosmopolitan area in the region for thousands of years (most of the rain that falls on Arabia, falls on Yemen and local ports have long supported overseas trade), there are still a lot of independent minded tribes in the interior. The tribes like their Islam fundamentalist and consider their coastal countrymen overbearing and corrupt. So the government, which mainly represents the interests of the majority of the population living near the coast, has an uneasy, and sometimes violent, relationship with the tribes. Along those lines, the new "National Security Agency" was announced without any details on how soon it would be up and running. On August 11, police arrested six Islamic militants for planning a bombing attack in the capital. This brings to about a hundred, the number of terrorism suspects the government has arrested so far this year. On August 27th, the president said that, while Yemen would round up any militants it could catch, it would not turn them over to any foreign government. However, the U.S. FBI and CIA have had people in Yemen for several years, and a lot more of them since September 11, 2001. So while Yemen won't extradite any suspected terrorists, it is apparently letting American interrogators do some work. The Americans are also allowed to work with Yemeni police to track down al Qaeda members known (or suspected) to be operating in the country. 


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