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Al Qaeda Suspect Arrested In Yemen

A suspected al Qaeda member named in a year-old FBI terror alert was one of 11 arrested in Yemen last week, police said Saturday.

Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei was one of 17 people linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group in a February 2002 FBI alert that warned of a potential attack on the United States or against U.S. interests in Yemen.

Al-Rabeei, also known as Furqan, is believed to be a Yemeni national born in Saudi Arabia in 1979.

He was arrested March 28 with 10 others in the northern province of Marib, said the police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said the arrests involved a helicopter-chase in Marib, 100 miles northeast of the capital, San`a.

U.S. officials have said al-Rabeei is believed to have ties to al Qaeda but is not linked to the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, in which 17 U.S. sailors were killed.

In announcing the arrests Tuesday, Yemeni officials said at least two of the 11 arrested were on the government's most wanted list.

The other most wanted suspect, whose name was not released, is believed to be involved in a November attack on a helicopter that injured two employees of Hunt Oil company, as well as a wave of explosions in Yemen last year that were claimed by al Qaeda supporters.

Yemen had long tolerated Muslim extremists but after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, it committed itself to joining the war on terrorism and has allowed American forces into the country to train its military in combating terrorists.

In November, a CIA Predator drone fired a missile at a car in Yemen that was carrying several suspected al Qaeda operatives, killing Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, bin Laden's top operative in that country. It was the first such overt operation outside Afghanistan.


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