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'Al-Qaeda Prison Breakout' Sparks Predicatable Hysteria

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 3:25 pm    Post subject: 'Al-Qaeda Prison Breakout' Sparks Predicatable Hysteria Reply with quote

Interpol issued a global security alert on Sunday over the escape of at least 13 convicted al Qaeda militants who tunnelled their way out of a jail in Yemen, calling them a "clear and present danger to all countries."

The world police body circulated a warning to its 184 member states over the missing prisoners, including the leaders of attacks on U.S. and French ships in 2000 and 2002, and urged them to take extra precautions at their borders.

But two days after the escape was discovered, Interpol had not yet issued individual wanted notices for the fugitives because it said Yemeni authorities had yet to provide it with all the required information.

A government official told Reuters in the capital Sanaa: "The Interior Ministry sent an official letter to Interpol with the names of the fugitives, their photographs and fingerprints. It asked them to circulate the list worldwide, fearing they might escape Yemen."

But an Interpol official told Reuters not all the conditions had been met for the issue of the so-called "red notices."

An Interpol statement said: "Red notices can only be issued by Interpol at the request of member countries and only if they are supported by underlying national arrest warrants."

Interpol's Secretary-General Ronald Noble asked Yemen to provide the required information immediately, saying the escape could not be considered an internal problem.

"Unless Interpol red notices are issued urgently for these fugitives and unless the world community commits itself to tracking them down, they will be able to travel internationally, to elude detection and to engage in future terrorist activity," Noble said.

The 13 militants were among 23 inmates who broke out of jail in the capital Sanaa in a major embarrassment for Yemeni authorities, who have cracked down on militants in the ancestral land of Osama bin Laden and positioned themselves as an ally of the United States in the war on terrorism.

They included Jamal Badawi, mastermind of the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in October 2000, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. He was originally sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to 15 years in prison.

Another prominent escapee was Fawaz al-Rabe'ie, sentenced to death as leader of the group convicted of bombing the French oil tanker Limburg off the Yemeni coast in 2002, killing one crewman.

A Yemeni state-run Web site (www.almotamar.net) said 17 of those who escaped were convicted of al Qaeda-linked crimes, while the other six were awaiting trial for similar charges.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN: "I feel very uneasy about this development ... We have so-called allies in the world that are saying they want to help us, and yet how do 23 people 'escape'? It raises some terribly difficult questions."

She added: "It really makes our job harder. Now intelligence has to work on something they didn't think they had to work on."

A security source in Yemen told Reuters that the tunnel from which the men escaped was thought to be around 140 meters (460 feet) long, twice as long as originally reported, and led to a mosque.

The source said authorities discovered the escape on Friday, but it was believed the prisoners had fled Thursday night and were definitely aided by more than one accomplice on the outside because the tunnel was believed to have been dug from the mosque to the prison.

The tunnel entry was in the women's section of the mosque, less frequented than the male section because women mainly pray at home.

(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert in Washington)

From Interpol:

LYON, France Interpol has issued an urgent global security alert, known as an Orange Notice, following the escape on Friday from a Yemeni prison of 23 dangerous individuals, including at least 13 convicted Al Qaeda terrorists, some of whom were involved in attacks on U.S. and French ships in 2000 and 2002.

The Interpol Orange Notice is ordinarily used to warn police in member countries of mail bombs or disguised weapons or criminal modus operandi. However, Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble personally ordered an Orange Notice to be issued after the Yemeni jail break because the escape and unknown whereabouts of Al Qaeda terrorists constituted a clear and present danger to all countries.
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