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Yemen & al Qaeda!

Interesting Article: "U.S. Citizen Is Convicted in Plot to Support Al Qaeda" by ABBY GOODNOUGH / Boston published Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An American citizen from an upscale suburb here was convicted on Tuesday of conspiring to support Al Qaeda and of other terrorism charges. Federal prosecutors told the jury that Tarek Mehanna, 29, of Sudbury, traveled to Yemen in 2004 to train as a terrorist with the goal of attacking American soldiers in Iraq. Mehanna, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, failed to get the training, but then returned home and conspired to help Al Qaeda by promoting violent jihad on the Internet, prosecutors said. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours, after hearing 31 days of testimony. It found Mehanna guilty on all charges, including conspiring to kill in a foreign country and lying to investigators, as well as conspiring to support terrorists. Why do we keep hearing about Yemen?

I have written extensively in my blog posts about the current situation in Yemen. Please feel free to search under the key term "Yemen" to read my other blog entries. Tarek Mehanna, 29, of Sudbury, Massachusetts was arrested in 2009 and charged with "providing material support to terrorists" and other crimes, including conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and lying to law enforcement officers. Among the witnesses in the trial which began on October 28 was one of Mehanna's friends, Daniel Maldonado, a New Hampshire man serving a 10-year sentence for obtaining al Qaeda military training. Among the witnesses in the trial which began on October 28 was one of Mehanna's friends, Daniel Maldonado, a New Hampshire man serving a 10-year sentence for obtaining al Qaeda military training. Yemen has for years slowly become an al Qaeda hub for terrorists like this. In Yemen currently, Al Qaeda is moving hundreds of gunmen out of southern towns, north to camps in the more remote Al Jawf and Mareb provinces. The peace deal has allowed the government police and troops to concentrate on al Qaeda, and the Islamic terrorists found themselves too vulnerable, and unpopular, in the south. What is worse is that people, drugs and weapons are flooding into Saudi Arabia after 10 months of unrest drove Yemen close to civil war. Saudi authorities, concerned instability may spill into the world’s biggest oil exporter, are stepping up security, building a chain of border watchtowers and installing nighttime scanners at hilltop bases. They are also backing a peace accord to stop Yemen from becoming a failed state that could threaten tankers in the Gulf of Aden and create a base for al-Qaeda attacks. “You can’t imagine how many Yemenis are right now in Saudi Arabia looking for work,” Khalid al-Dakhil, a political science professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, said in a phone interview. “The economic situation in Yemen is so miserable. If you got a civil war, with the poverty in Yemen, then you can imagine how bad it is going to be for Saudi Arabia.” Al-Qaeda militants based in Yemen, the home of Osama bin Laden’s ancestors, have attacked the kingdom in the past, attempting to assassinate a top anti-terrorism official in 2009. A series of attacks on Saudi oil installations and their foreign workers helped double oil prices in the two years through February 2006. Yemen is the Arab world’s poorest country, while Saudi Arabia is its biggest economy. Yemen’s government puts the cost of this year’s unrest at more than $8 billion. Attacks on oil pipelines have disrupted exports, and staple foods and fuels are scarce. Output probably shrank about 2.5 percent this year and inflation surged to 26 percent, according to International Monetary Fund forecasts. Shiite Muslim rebels in Yemen’s northern mountains near Saudi Arabia had fought government forces for years until an uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh this year gave them a free hand in the lawless frontier province of Saada. The Houthis, as the rebels are known after the clan of their leaders, have been fighting Salafists, a hard-line Sunni Islamic group whose creed is similar to that of Saudi Arabia. While Saudi Arabia was worried by the potential breakup of Yemen, it was particularly alarmed by the prospect of a Shiite mini-state springing up on its border, said Hasan Zaid of Yemen’s Shiite-dominated Al-Haq party. Although Yemen has a Sunni majority, most northerners are Zaydis. The two communities have a tradition of peaceful coexistence, but the sectarian aspect of the conflict has prompted fears of a wider confrontation. Like southern separatists, the Houthis are hoping that a federal system will emerge under the new constitution which will grant them more autonomy, Benomar said after talks with the rebels’ 35-year-old leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. “For years they have been complaining about exclusion and marginalization and their main concern now is that the new political deal should not be limited to the traditional political parties.” Let us hope that they do not consider al Qaeda "a traditional political party".



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