Interpol has issued a global security alert over the escape of more than a dozen convicted Al Qaeda militants who escaped from a jail in Yemen through a tunnel that reportedly led to a mosque. (Click on photo for full-size image.)
Yemen is refusing a US interrogation request. More than 100 people are being detained in connection with the escape. Among the prisoners now on the lam: Jaber Elbaneh, 39, a U.S. citizen accused of training with the “Lackawanna Six.”
Some Yemenis are cheering the fugitives as heroes. The New York Times reports:
“Are they seen as heroes here? Certainly,” said Muhammad al-Saderi, a leader in Yemen’s opposition Nasserist party. “The 23 came from all over the country, and the way it looks to many is that the government isn’t just facing off with a few extremist groups, it’s facing off with the whole country.”
A nationwide manhunt continued Wednesday as the Yemeni government offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the 13 people suspected of being operatives of Al Qaeda among the escapees. Side streets leading to the prison remained blocked off, while security men patrolled in and around the mosque where the men emerged.
Yemeni security agents set up checkpoints within this densely packed city and on roads leading out, while United States warships patrolled the Yemeni shores. Diplomatic and security officials said the men were likely either to sneak across the border with Saudi Arabia into the unforgiving “Empty Quarter” or to take to the sea along human trafficking routes that run across the Gulf of Aden to Somalia.
If the escapees are as successful at eluding those checkpoints and roadblocks as they were in their jailbreak, it seems to me that the New York City port deal handing over control of operations to the United Arab Emirates–first reported in the NY Post and followed up here –might come in handy, eh?
On the port deal, here’s the latest. There’s a bipartisan effort in Congress to hold hearings and review the $7 billion contract:
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is questioning administration approval of the sale authorized this week by shareholders in a London-based company.
Lawmakers are circulating letters on Capitol Hill voicing concerns about the sale’s implications for maritime security, and one, Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., has called for hearings…Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., said, “If our ports are the most vulnerable targets for terrorism and if we are at war, as the president says, we should be overly critical of handing over management of our ports to any foreign countries, post 9/11.”
A spokesman for DP World did not return telephone messages or e-mails from the AP on Wednesday.
Critics have complained that control over port operations by DP World could endanger U.S. security. They cite the UAE’s history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against New York and Washington…
Update: The White House defends the decision.
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