Sana: Yemen put a US-born radical cleric on
trial in absentia on Tuesday, accusing him and two other men with
plotting to kill foreigners and of being members of al-Qaida.
It was the first formal legal action by Yemen against
Anwar al-Awlaki, and came as the country faces heavy pressure
to crack down on the terror network following the interception
of two mail bombs intercepted in Dubai and Britain last week.
Prosecutor Ali al-Saneaa announced the charges
against al-Awlaki as part of a trial against another man,
Hisham Assem, who has been charged accused of killing a
Frenchman in an October 6 attack at an oil firm`s compound
where he worked as a security guard.
Assem, 19, was present in court, but al-Awlaki and a
third suspect, Osman al-Awlaki, were charged in absentia. The
hearing was held amid tight security measures at a courthouse
in downtown San`a.
Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, is based in
Yemen. US investigators say e-mails link him to the Army
psychiatrist accused of last year`s killings at Fort Hood,
Texas. They also say that he helped prepare Nigerian Umar
Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused in the Christmas airline bombing
attempt, and that he had links to the failed Times Square
The US has put Al-Awlaki, whose English-language
sermons advocating jihad, or holy war, have inspired a number
of Western-born militants, on a list of militants it wants
killed or captured.
Al-Awlaki is believed to be living in a mountainous
region of Yemen, sheltered by his family and tribal religious
leaders who say he has no ties to terrorism. Yemeni officials
have said they will not turn him over to the US because, as a
Yemeni citizen, he must be prosecuted there.
The prosecutor in Tuesday`s trial said Assem, a guard
at the French engineering firm SPIE, had acknowledged that he
received Internet messages from al-Awlaki inciting him to kill
foreigners with whom he was working.