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Most Wanted No More?

(federal bureau of investigation)
Yemen says one of America's most wanted al Qaeda operatives is in its custody, again, but our government isn't declaring victory or taking his name off the FBI's "most wanted terrorists" list. The fugitive with a $5 million price tag on his head is Jaber Elbaneh, 40, considered a facilitator for the six Yemeni-American men from Lackawanna, New York, just outside Buffalo, who traveled in the summer of 2001 to al Qaeda military camp in Afghanistan.

Elbaneh turned himself in 10 days ago, according to Yemeni officials. That's 15 months after he was among two dozen prisoners who escaped from a Yemeni jail by tunneling to a nearby mosque. "After security investigations and negotiations, the terrorism suspect Elbaneh voluntarily surrendered to the Yemeni authorities," Abdulsalam Sabrah, a spokesman for the Yemeni embassy in Washington," tells CBS News. "He is now in prison, and since he is a Yemeni citizen, he will be tried in a Yemeni court."

Sabrah could not say when or on what charges. There are terror charges pending against Elbaneh here, but U.S agents in the Yemeni capital of Sana are having no luck getting him back, with one law enforcement official telling us Yemen is "not being cooperative." The U.S. has no extradition treaty with Yemen.

"We are seeking clarification from the Yemeni authorities about this issue," says David Foley, spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, who referred to Yemeni authorities as "strong counterterrorism partners." The U.S. government had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Elbaneh's arrest, with the FBI website describing him as someone who should be considered "armed and dangerous." No claimants for that bounty yet.

Elbaneh allegedly traveled with the Buffalo Six just weeks before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a 2003 criminal complaint accusing him of providing material support or resources to a terrorist organization. Unlike the cell, he never returned to the U.S. Elbaneh was believed to be in Yemen when the other six were arrested in September 2002. Eventually, all six pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda and are serving sentences of seven to ten years in federal prison. Prosecutors have said there were as many as a dozen men connected to the group as recruiters, financiers, safe-house operators, or potential additional trainees.

The FBI has pointed to two Saudis as recruiters of the Buffalo Six. One is in custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, though he has denied to a U.S. military tribunal that he was a member of al Qaeda or served as a recruiter for the terrorist group. The other was killed 2002 by a CIA-launched Predator missile attack on al Qaeda Yemen.

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