Yemeni police arrest local al-Qaeda member

Yemeni police have arrested a local member of the terrorist al-Qaeda organization in the north-eastern province of Hadhramout, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

In a statement posted on its website, the ministry said the suspect was captured in the desert area of Hadhramout, some 900 kilometres south-east of the capital Sana'a, reported dpa.

It identified the captured suspect as Haitham bin Sa'ad. He was arrested along with four bodyguards.

An al-Qaeda arm in Yemen has claimed responsibility for several mortar attacks in Sana'a in the past few months, including one that targeted a residential compound housing US citizens on April 6 and another against the US embassy on March 18.

Last week, Yemeni police reportedly broke up an al-Qaeda cell that has been plotting terrorist attacks against foreign interests and government facilities in Sana'a.

Reports said the cell's leader, Riydh al-Salehi, was among the arrested suspects.

Yemen's Interior Ministry has said that security forces had arrested 11 suspected members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Sana'a late in May. It said the detained suspects gave information during questioning about acts of terror carried out by the network.

Last week, Yemeni Vice President Abdu-Rabu Mansour Hadi said his country had expelled 16,000 suspected members of the al-Qaeda network since 2005 as part of its efforts to fight terrorism.

Hadi said the expelled suspects belonged to various nationalities and many of them were those known as the Arab Afghans.

Arab Afghans are Muslim Jihadi veterans from various Arab countries who had fought against the Soviet army in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Yemen received thousands of those militants after the war ended in 1989.

Hadi said the suspected militants were sent back to their home countries between 2005 and 2008. He did not name any of the countries.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, Yemen allied itself with the United States in the so-called war on terrorism and cracked down on armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Security forces have also rounded up hundreds of Arab Afghans and foreign students at unregistered religious schools across the Arabian Peninsula country.

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