YEMEN: MAN CLAIMS TO HEAD AL-QAEDA’S LOCAL BRANCH
Sanaa, 22 June (AKI) – A man identifying himself as Abu Basir Nasir al-Wahishi – one of 28 terrorist suspects who in February 2006 fled a high security prison in Sanaa – has claimed in an audio message posted on Islamist internet forums that he is the leader of al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. The man who also uses the battlename Abu Hureira al-Sanaani, said his group’s full name is al-Qaeda of the Jihad in Yemen. Most of those involved in the 2006 jailbreak were re-arrested while those who successfully escaped are believed by Yemeni authorities to have sought refuge in Somalia or in Yemen’s remote southern Hadramawt province.
“I have been nominated leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen and I say no to any surrender to government forces. Ignorance and Islam can never blend together. Several tyrants have tried to insert ignorance in Islam but they have all failed,” the man said in the 20 minute-long recording.
“They want us to renege our beliefs and to repudiate some of our principles. But during this time when they have been waging their crusader war, the enemies are being defeated as is happening in Afghanistan at the hands of the mujahadeen,”
Yemen authorities have for some time suspected an al-Qaeda presence in the country blaming the terror network for a failed attempt to attack two oil plants last September.