30 foreigners rounded up in Yemen anti-Qaeda sweep: Official

Last Updated: Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 20:55

Sanaa: Yemeni security forces have
arrested more than 30 foreign nationals on suspicion of having
links with al Qaeda, among them three Frenchmen, an American
and a Briton, a security official said on Sunday.

"Some of them were arrested on suspicion of belonging
to al Qaeda while others were arrested according to lists
provided to Yemen security forces by US intelligence," the
official said to a news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Most of those arrested came to Yemen to study Arabic
in the same school where Nigerian Omar Farouk had studied,"
the official said.

He was referring to Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who
allegedly tried to blow up a US airliner over Detroit on
Christmas day and who had studied in the Sanaa Institute for
the Arabic Language, in the Yemeni capital`s old city.

"During the month of May, a number of foreigners were
arrested, including one Frenchman, one American, one Briton,
two Malaysians (and) five Nigerians," the official said.

"There are a number of foreigners who were arrested
prior to May," including two French nationals arrested in
April, he added.

The source provided details on one of the French
nationals, Jeremy Johnny Witter, whom he said was arrested in
May.

Witter, born in 1986 and who comes from Orsay, near
Paris, arrived in Yemen to study Arabic at the Sanaa Institute
in November 2009, after having lived in Egypt for seven years,
the official said.

Yemen is the ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden and has witnessed several attacks claimed by
the group on foreign missions, tourist sites and oil
installations.

al Qaeda has suffered setbacks amid US pressure on the
government to crack down. But its presence threatens to turn
Yemen into a base for training and plotting attacks, a senior
US counter-terrorism official said in September.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 20:55

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