Yemen Dismantles Israel-linked Cell

Yemen announced on Monday the dismantling of a "terrorist cell" which Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said was linked to Israeli intelligence services.

"A terrorist cell was arrested five days ago and will be referred to the judicial authorities for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," Saleh was quoted as saying by the official Saba news agency.

He said the group operated under the "slogan of Islam.”

It was not immediately clear if Saleh was referring to militants belonging to a group calling itself Islamic Jihad, who were arrested last month. A Yemeni security official told Reuters that authorities had found evidence of contacts by those militants with Israelis.

The Yemeni president made the statement during a meeting with politicians, security and military officials, and tribal leaders at Al-Mukalla University in the eastern province of Hadramawt.

Saleh did not say how many people were arrested or give details on their links to Israeli intelligence.

"Details of the trial will be announced later," he told the gathering.

"You will hear about what goes on in the proceedings," Saleh said, urging Yemen’s political parties to close ranks and cooperate to confront acts of terrorism, Saba reported.

In August, Yemeni security forces arrested five suspected al-Qaeda militants in Hadramawt, days after the authorities revealed they had uncovered a new "terrorist" cell near the port city of al-Mukalla.

Yemen, ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, has been battling suspected al-Qaeda militants since before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

The impoverished Arabian Peninsula country has in past months seen a series of attacks on security services and oil installations claimed by groups linked to al-Qaeda.

The latest attack in September targeted the U.S. embassy in the capital Sanaa, where 18 people were killed when militants detonated a booby-trapped car before firing a volley of rockets at the heavily fortified mission. The attack was the second since April targeting the U.S. embassy.

The twin suicide car bombings on the embassy were the biggest militant operation in Yemen since the attacks on the French tanker Limburg in 2002 and the U.S. warship Cole in 2000.

The government joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on U.S. cities in 2001.

It has jailed scores of militants in connection with bombings of Western targets and clashes with authorities, but is still viewed in the West as a haven for Islamist militants.

(Agencies via

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