OSLO, Mar 28, 2011- Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to get Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, now a leading dissident officer, killed last year by tricking Saudi forces into bombing his headquarters, a Norwegian daily said Monday, quoting a leaked US cable.
"In the winter of 2010," Saudi fighter jets bombing Shiite rebellion targets in Yemen were directed to bomb a building that had been described as insurgent headquarters," the Aftenposten daily reported.
But the mission was aborted at the last minute when pilots realised they were about to bomb the headquarters of General Ahmar, Aftenposten explained, saying its information came from a cable from the US embassy in Riyadh.
The Norwegian daily of reference, which announced last year it had obtained all 250,000 US diplomatic cables whistleblowing website WikiLeaks had accessed, did not publish the cable's content directly on its website as it usually does.
It said General Ahmar was at the time "the half-brother, a close ally, and the greatest rival for the presidency" of President Saleh.
"By doing so, Saleh was probably trying to get rid of a potential rival," Aftenposten said.
The daily did not mention the date of the cable but said the document detailed a "secret" meeting between US diplomats and Saudi Arabian Vice Defence Minister Khaled Ben Sultan on February 6, 2010.
In a major blow to Saleh, General Ahmar, commander of the Northwest Military District which includes Yemeni capital Sanaa and the first armoured tank division, announced a week ago that he had joined the "revolution."
On Sunday he vowed to help bring about Saleh's overthrow.
He promised "to help the peaceful rebellion of youth succeed by every means possible and whatever the price has to be paid," in a statement read by his spokesman.
Saleh has been faced with a popular uprising since the end of January, calling for an end to his 32-year rule. Some 52 demonstrators were reported killed in a protest on March 18.