Al-Qaida leader vows to free jailed militants


Abu Baseer Nasser al-Wuhayshi

SANAA — The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released a statement from its leader Abu Baseer Nasser al-Wuhayshi, in which he vowed to liberate jailed fellows from prisons. “We bring you good news that we have sent our men to liberate you from prisons, to liberate you from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and this will happen very soon,” al-Wuhayshi said in the statement that was posted on Islamist Jihadi websites late on Sunday.

AQAP released its statement when the United States intensified its drone strikes on the al-Qaida network in Yemen after it closed its diplomatic mission in Sanaa last week. Washington considers AQAP as the most dangerous terrorist regional network in the Middle East.

More than 34 suspected al-Qaida militants were killed by US drone attacks in less than two weeks in different regions of Yemen, according to Yemeni government officials.

AQAP was founded in January 2009 after the merger of Saudi and Yemeni branches.
Its leader, al-Wuhayshi, declared in July 2011 the group’s allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the worldwide al-Qaida network, after the death of its founder Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Al-Wuhayshi, Bin Laden’s personal secretary during 1990s, fled Afghanistan to Iran in 2002, where he was arrested and repatriated to Yemen. He had been jailed in Sanaa until he escaped along with 22 other prisoners in February 2006 through a 44-metre tunnel.

The US government said earlier this month that it intercepted a conversation between al-Wuhayshi and al-Zawahiri, in which al- Zawahiri ordered the AQAP to launch attacks against the US embassy abroad, forcing the White House to close its 19 diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa.

The US State Department said Friday it would reopen on Sunday 18 of the 19 embassies and consulates shut in anticipation of terror attacks, but the US embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa will remain closed “because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The Yemeni government has boosted security presence around Western embassies in the capital as precautionary measures after the United States and Britain temporarily evacuated their diplomatic staff from Sanaa. — AP

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