Friday, November 4, 2011

Angered Yemeni protesters enter the Old City of Sana'a

For the first time in the many months of Yemen's unresolved revolution, residents from Sana'a's Old City march to key government locations in Sana'a. 4th November 2011
Sana'a's ongoing political and humanitarian crisis saw a new twist on Friday as residents of Sana'a al-Qadima (Old Sana'a) took to the streets to both government and anti-government opposition forces. Yemen's youth movement was spared their antipathy, which was reserved for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, defected Major General Ali Mohsen, and the General People's Congress and Islah political parties.
A heavy military presence transformed the appearance of portions of Sana'a al-Qadima - itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site - as government security forces, including the highly-trained Republican Guard were present to dissuade the marchers from progressing. However, the marching residents persisted and picked up additional marchers as they progressed down al-Silah Street to the Central Bank, down Tahrir Street and to the Ministry of Defense Building.
Pro-government supporters at Tahrir Square hurled insults at the protesters as they passed, with many flourishing jambiyahs (traditional Yemeni daggers) and a handful rushing after the Old City residents as they marched further down Tahrir Street. The Old City residents stopped before the Ministry of Defense building and loudly voiced their displeasure with the current political and social climate in Sana'a.
During recent fighting between government security and tribal opposition forces, errant shells landed in the Old City, enraging the local populace. Generally assumed to be among Saleh's most ardent supporters, frustration has grown among Old City residents after many months of inadequate water supplies and scarce electricity. Witnesses present at different stages of the march said that three individuals photographing its procession were detained by government security personnel.
The marching Old City residents, referring to the current regime, Ali Mohsen and his defected First Armored Divison, and members of both the General People's Congress and Islah political parties, chanted "The people want to deport all of them" and "The people want to live...all of them are corrupt" as they progressed down Tahrir Street.

Al-Qaeda militants attack Yemeni officials - report

November 4 2011

Al-Qaeda militants were believed to be behind an attack that targeted a member of Yemen's consultative council and an army colonel in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, Arab media reported on Thursday.

The two men were wounded when their vehicle came under fire while they were heading towards the capital Sanaa, Doha-based Al Jazeera television said.

Militants, suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda, opened fire with a barrage of bullets at the car of Mohammed al-Haithami Ashal, wounding him in the leg, the broadcaster said.

Colonel Ahmed Naser Ashal, who was in the same car, received a bullet in the head, it added without adding further details.

The Abyan province is known to be a hotbed for Muslim extremists who belong to al-Qaeda.

Yemen has been gripped since January by violence between forces loyal to Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and anti-regime protesters who are calling for his ouster.

The international community has expressed fears that the ongoing unrest in Yemen has paved the way for al-Qaeda to take advantage of the situation. - Sapa-dpa

Yemen to reach power-transfer deal soon: FM

4th November 2011

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al- Qerbi affirmed on Wednesday that a political solution of power transfer would be reached soon between the government and the opposition, state-run Saba news agency reported.

"The ongoing efforts between the government and the opposition are concentrated on reaching an agreed mechanism to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative to peacefully transfer power (from President Ali Abdullah Saleh)," al-Qerbi was quoted as saying by Saba.

Al-Qerbi made the remarks during a meeting here with the U.S. ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein and the EU envoy Michele Cervone d'Urso.

Saleh, who has been in office for 33 years, has confronted ten- month-long protests demanding his stepping down.

The GCC initiative, which was brokered in April, stipulated Saleh to quit in 30 days and hand over power to his deputy Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who would then form an opposition-led national government and arrange presidential elections in 60 days. Saleh has backed out of signing the deal three times in the last minute.

On Tuesday, d'Urso told Saba that the ruling party and the opposition are about to reach a deal to bring the country into a new stage based on the GCC initiative and the UN resolution for transferring power from Saleh to Hadi.

"The situation in Yemen is moving through a new phase after the issuance of the UN Security Council Resolution 2014," d'Urso told Saba.

"We hope that Eidal-Adha (Muslim holiday) will be an occasion to announce that Yemen has moved towards a new stage," d'Urso said.

On Sunday, the ruling party said it would announce Vice President Hadi as its candidate for the presidential election proposed to be held after Saleh signs the GCC initiative.

The resolution 2014, which is unanimously passed by the 15- nation security council on Oct. 21,

Source: GNA

British govt. trains, equips Yemeni forces

November 4, 2011

The British government has spent tens of thousands of pounds training Yemeni security forces and supplying equipment to the suppressive regime over the last five years.

Junior defense minister Peter Luff revealed: Britain, the close supporter of the repressive regimes all around the world, provided the regime of US-backed Ali Abdullah Saleh with £90,000 worth of spare “non-lethal public order equipment.”

Luff also said that UK government gave “professional development training” to scores of Yemeni security forces.

The Ministry of Defense claimed that it suspended the training of officers loyal to Yemeni ruler six months ago in the wake of the “significant deterioration” in “political and security situation” of the country.

In a written parliamentary answer to Labour MP Mike Gapes, Luff backed the support the UK government gave to the suppressive regime, claiming it helped handling the threat of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

He also said that British military experts went to Yemen last October and in February this year in order to train the forces at the Yemeni Central Security Force Public Order Battalion.

Yemeni protesters rally, bury their dead

November 04, 2011

SANAA: Protesters on Friday held massive demonstrations in Yemen's capital Sanaa and in Taez as they buried 19 people killed by government forces over the past two days in both cities.

A smaller number of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's loyalists staged a counter rally on the capital's Sabiin Avenue in support of the embattled leader, witnesses said.

Under the slogan "Remaining Peaceful is Our Choice," anti-regime protesters gathered in Sittin Road in Sanaa's northern district chanting: "Peaceful peaceful, no to civil war," witnesses said.

"The Yemenis' voice is one: we will bring corrupt Saleh to justice," they said as the veteran leader clings to power despite protests that have rocked the country since January, and international pressures urging him to step down.

The crowds took part in the funeral of three people killed in clashes between tribesmen and security forces in the northern Al-Hasaba district, the same sources said.

In central Sanaa, around 2,000 people who protested there against Saleh's regime clashed with government loyalists using rockes and batons, witnesses said. No casualties were reported.

A massive protest was also held in the second-largest city Taez as demonstrators took part in the funeral of 16 people killed in deadly clashes that have rocked the city over the past two days, organisers there said.

Saleh's opponents also announced the creation of a "legal committee," which organisers said will work on gathering evidence and witness reports from citizens on "the crimes of Saleh and the remnants of his regime" to present it to the International Criminal Court.

Peaceful protests have degenerated into battles between rival army troops, security forces and protesters, and between security forces and tribesmen, leaving hundreds of people dead across the impoverished country.

Meanwhile, a defiant Saleh has so far refused to sign a Gulf initiative, supported by the international community, that would see him step down in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and for members of his family.

Friend: Mass. suspect praised bin Laden, hijackers

By DENISE LAVOIE, AP Legal Affairs Writer – November 4, 2011

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man charged with conspiring to help al-Qaida referred to Osama bin Laden as "my real father" and spoke in glowing terms about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a friend testified Thursday in the man's trial.

Tarek Mehanna, 29, is accused of trying to help the terrorist organization by traveling to Yemen to seek terrorist training and translating videos and publications promoting violent jihad.

Ali Aboubakr, 25, was the first of several friends expected to testify against Mehanna. In online chats between the two men read in court Thursday, Mehanna and Aboubakr frequently sprinkle their conversations with the word "dude" and other American slang.

Testifying under an immunity order from prosecutors, Aboubakr said that he and Mehanna, both American-born citizens from wealthy Boston suburbs, discussed their admiration for bin Laden, the Sept. 11 hijackers and suicide bombers. He also described visiting ground zero with Mehanna and another friend in late 2005 or early 2006.

Prosecutors showed the jury a photograph of the men, wearing broad smiles and pointing their index fingers in the air. When asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn why they were smiling, Aboubakr said, "The attacks of 9/11 and what had gone on there."

In one chat, Mehanna describes his respect for bin Laden.

"Then, I realized I looked to him as being my real father, in a sense," Mehanna said, according to a transcript read by Auerhahn in court.

Aboubakr was a 20-year-old University of Massachusetts-Boston student when he said he and Mehanna would chat online and watch videos at Mehanna's home in Sudbury.

Aboubakr said they watched one video that showed the beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg in Iraq. He said they also watched videos of suicide bombers and mujahedeen fighters around the world, including in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

"Dude, I saw the coolest blood donation clip today; I want you to see it," Mehanna said to Aboubakr in 2006, according to the transcript. Aboubakr said Mehanna was referring to a suicide bomber.

Another video showed U.S. Marines being wounded or killed as a bomb explodes while they try to dismantle it.

Aboubakr said he and Mehanna wanted to fight like the people they watched in the videos.

"There was an element of trying to gain inspiration," he said.

Several times during his testimony, Aboubakr said he did not really believe the things he told Mehanna, but he agreed with Mehanna to "get his approval."

Prosecutors say Mehanna traveled to Yemen in 2004 seeking terrorist training, and when that failed he returned home to the Boston area and began translating and distributing materials promoting terrorism on the Internet.

Mehanna's lawyers deny he was promoting terrorism, and say he was exercising his free speech rights to show anger over the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They say he visited Yemen to find religious schools.

Aboubakr said Mehanna told him he had gone to a school in Yemen. He said Mehanna told him during another conversation that everyone at the school "carries around AK-47s, and that it looked more like a camp than it did a school."

During another conversation, the two men discussed going overseas to fight and Mehanna told him it would not be easy to hide such a trip from his parents.

"I tried and they found out about it, so it's not that easy to keep them out of the picture," Mehanna said, according to the transcript.

"But seriously, if I try to go again, you would come?" Mehanna said.

Mehanna was initially charged in 2008, months after he graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, with lying to the FBI about the whereabouts of Daniel Maldonado, a New Hampshire native who was later convicted of training at an al-Qaida terrorist camp in Somalia. Maldonado is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.

More serious charges were added in 2009, when Mehanna was accused of conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida, conspiring to kill American soldiers in Iraq and other charges.

Mehanna's lawyers are expected to cross-examine Aboubakr on Friday.