Thursday, June 16, 2011

Egyptian al-Qaida suspect arrested at airport

By SARAH EL DEEB Associated Press

CAIRO- June 16, 2011—An Egyptian suspected of belonging to Yemen's branch of al-Qaida was detained Thursday upon arrival in Egypt from Yemen, an airport official said.

The official said the man, his Yemeni wife and three children returned to Egypt on Thursday with false documents.

The official said interrogators identified the man as Rabie Abdullah, convicted in absentia to five years in one of Egypt's largest terrorism trials in the 1990s. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The new al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was sentenced in the same case along with more than 100 others, most of them in absentia. The suspects were convicted on charges ranging from forgery to conspiracy to topple the government.

The 42-year old Abdullah denied the charges against him during the airport interrogation, the official said, and he will get a retrial.

The official said Abdullah left Egypt in 1991 for Turkey, Yemen and Afghanistan. He lost his passport in Afghanistan and returned to Yemen using a fake identity. There, he is suspected of joining the local al-Qaida branch, the official said.

Abdullah told his interrogators he returned from Yemen because of the conflict there and that he wanted to settle in Egypt, the official said.

Yemen is home to one of the most active al-Qaida branches, which has been linked to several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including the plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The group has been emboldened by the current turmoil in the impoverished Gulf nation.

US declares al-Qaida fundraiser a global terrorist

June 16, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has designated as a terrorist an al-Qaida commander and fundraiser believed to be playing a major role in the group's powerful Yemen-based branch.

The State Department said Othman al-Ghamdi has worked with other members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to plan and stockpile weapons for attacks.

A statement said he identified himself in a video last year as an operational commander. He appeared alongside the group's military leader Qasim al-Rimi and operative Fahd al-Quso. Al-Quso is wanted in the 2000 USS Cole bombing.

The United Nations also included al-Ghamdi on a sanctions list Thursday. As a result, he is subject to an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo around the world.

Report: Bin Laden Asked Yemeni Terrorists to Attack U.S.


June 16, 2011

Newly discovered intelligence from the files obtained at Osama bin Laden's Pakistan hideout is providing further evidence that the threat from Al Qaeda in Yemen is a clear and present danger to the United States.

Information obtained by ABC News shows that bin Laden had repeatedly urged senior Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen to attack within the United States. Communications between bin Laden and the Yemeni Al Qaeda leaders were discovered in the trove of information recovered from bin Laden's compound.

The Yemen Al Qaeda affiliate is actively planning new plots targeting the U.S., officials with access to the intelligence said. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a warning to the American public in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is strictly, or has been strictly focused on attacks in the US homeland," Rogers said. "This morning, when you're over your breakfast cereal there is somebody in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula planning another attack in the U.S."

Anwar Al Awlaki -- an American cleric who is one of the group's leaders in Yemen -- is pushing the organization to conduct as many attacks aimed at the U.S. as possible in rapid succession, according to sources. According to Rogers, Awlaki has a specific plan.

"He is really reaching out to English speakers, to people that hold the right kind of paperwork or passports that can get into the country," Rogers said.

Awlaki was reportedly in direct contact with the Fort Hood shooter before the November 2009 massacre, where a single gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others at a Texas military base. A little over a month later, Awlaki's Yemeni group sent the "underwear bomber" in an attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas day. Ten months later the group tried to blow up U.S. cargo planes with printer bombs.

"They are very aggressive, and very innovative about how they try to defeat our counter measures and carryout a successful attack, and that makes them incredibly dangerous," Rogers said.

Some U.S. officials worry that the recent unrest in Yemen has given the group even more space to plan attacks against the U.S.

Sources tell ABC News that because the group is so active, the United States is planning to step up missile and drone attacks against the organization.

And the concern within the U.S. is strong -- within days of killing Osama Bin Laden, the U.S. tried to kill Awlaki.

Yemen pipeline down for months after attack

Opposition tribes won't allow repairs without elections

By Dan Healing, Calgary Herald June 16, 2011

It will likely be months before production disrupted by a damaged pipeline in Yemen can resume, says the chief executive of TransGlobe Energy Corp.

The 120,000-barrel-a-day pipeline has been closed since being attacked by militants in the troubled Middle Eastern country in March. TransGlobe had about 2,400 bpd on the line from its working interest in a field operated by partner Occidental Petroleum.

"We've modelled six months shut in for our operations," Ross Clarkson told reporters at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers investor symposium in Calgary on Wednesday.

"The government is the one that has to go in and fix it, and the opposition tribes are saying no one is allowed in to fix it until we see a move toward elections."

TransGlobe still produces 500 bpd in eastern Yemen.

On Wednesday, gunmen reportedly seized control of a southern Yemen city after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left the country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. He was injured in an earlier attack on his palace.

Presenters at the Calgary conference insisted international business is still being done despite the wellpublicized troubles that have swept many countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Dave Monachello, president of junior Winstar Resources Ltd., complained that his company's stock has been punished because its main assets are in Tunisia, which has been relatively quiet since February when an interim government took over from ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia borders Libya, where rebels are fighting a bloody war with dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

"Winstar has experienced only minor inconveniences as a result of the people's uprising last December," said Monachello. "Our field operators stayed on the job throughout the conflict and our office staff continued to perform their duties.

"We've sold gas as before and we've been paid as before."

He said the company plans to spend $38 million US in Tunisia this year to nearly double production from about 1,650 barrels of oil equivalent per day to about 3,000 boe/p. And the oil will get near-Brent prices, he said.

Winstar stock closed down four cents at $3.66 Wednesday. It has ranged from $3.06 to $6.79 in the past year.

During a presentation, Albert Gress, vice-president of business development for TransGlobe, emphasized its Egyptian assets and noted it plans to spend $81 million there this year to drill 50 wells.

A pending acquisition is to add 4,000 bpd to Egyptian production.

"We'll be coming out with new guidance. Don't be surprised to see 20,000 barrels (per day) as we exit 2011 -last time I checked the map, that's about 100 per cent over the 2010 average," said Gress.

Without the acquisition, TransGlobe had previously estimated it would grow production from 11,200 in the first quarter to 13,000 to 13,500 bpd by year-end.

Another Egyptian producer, Sea Dragon Energy Inc., is spending $13 million there this year, reported president Tony Anton, as it aims for exit production of 2,000 bpd from its working interest in two oilfields.

Armed tribesmen, separatists take control of gov't buildings in Yemen's Lahj

ADEN, Yemen, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Armed tribesmen along with separatists gunmen took control over the whole Yemen's southern province of Lahj on Thursday, seizing all government buildings and facilities in the province, local officials told Xinhua.

Fierce clashes between the security forces and armed tribesmen supported by separatists gunmen ended with forcing the soldiers to hand over all government complexes in the city, the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Separatists gunmen belonging to the separatist Southern Movement have already seized al-Milah, the second-largest district in Lahj along with a number of other districts, the official said.

All entrances of the province were controlled by either armed tribesmen or the separatist gunmen after the withdrawal of al- Qaida militants late on Wednesday, he added.

A member of the separatist Southern Movement told Xinhua that taking control over the whole province aimed at "preventing the Yemeni security authorities from handing government buildings to al-Qaida militants."

South and North Yemen unified peacefully in 1990, but the relationship had deteriorated by 1994, when a southern insurgency was quelled in a civil war. Calls for separation were renewed in 2007.