US embassy cable - 03SANAA127

YEMEN GENERAL AND ISLAH PARTY REACTION TO ARRESTS IN GERMANY; GERMAN VIEWS

Identifier: 03SANAA127
Wikileaks: View 03SANAA127 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Sanaa
Created: 2003-01-14 13:18:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PTER PREL KJUS YM COUNTER TERRORISM TERFIN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000127 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2013 
TAGS: PTER, PREL, KJUS, YM, COUNTER TERRORISM, TERFIN 
SUBJECT: YEMEN GENERAL AND ISLAH PARTY REACTION TO ARRESTS 
IN GERMANY;  GERMAN VIEWS 
 
REF: A. SECSTATE 7011 
     B. BERLIN 131 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Edmund J. Hull for Reasons 1.5 (b,d) 
 
 1.  (S)  Summary:  The arrest of al-Moayed in Frankfurt has 
surprised many in Yemen, and public reaction is extremely 
negative.  He is a well-known humanitarian to Yemenis, and 
many have expressed shock about a possible connection to 
al-Qaeda.  The Islah party is particularly concerned, and 
similarly rejects the possibility that al-Moayed has an 
al-Qaeda connection.  Negative public reaction to the 
arrests, possibly including demonstrations, is likely.  The 
Yemeni government continues to low key the issue and press 
the FRG for repatriation.  Embassy is assessing security 
implications.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------- 
Negative Popular Reaction 
------------------------- 
 
2.  (S)  Moayed is a Islah party Shura Council member and 
formerly a probable candidate for the parliamentary elections 
in April.  Media reports (confirmed by PolFSN) noted that a 
petition with 1000 signatures calling for his release was 
circulated in Moayed's neighborhood in Sanaa, where he is 
regarded as a humanitarian who is against terrorism. The 
media has reported that the Islah party plans to provide 
lawyers to those arrested.  Prominent Yemeni interlocutors 
confirmed to the DCM that Moayed is a noted humanitarian, 
active in aiding the poor in general -- particularly via the 
provision of free food to thousands of low-income Sanaa 
residents.  Embassy contacts also recall that he was "the 
leading recruiter in Sanaa" for volunteers to fight the 
Soviets in Afghanistan.  One (pro-U.S.) Yemeni NGO official 
described Moayed as "a big mouth" who sometimes rants about 
U.S. policy.  Nevertheless, a range of contacts agree that 
his sermons also oppose anti-Western terrorism, and uniformly 
view him as an extremely unlikely candidate for al-Qaeda 
terrorist affiliation. 
 
-------------- 
Islah Approach 
-------------- 
 
3.  (S)  Urgent requests for a meeting with PolOff were made 
by members of the Islah, and PolOff met with Islah Political 
Director Mohamed Qahtan on January 12.  Qahtan, a well-known 
moderate, said that he is convinced that al Moayed could have 
nothing to do with al-Qaeda, and noted that in his last 
mosque speech he condemned terrorism strongly with specific 
references to the incidents in Jibla and against Jarallah 
Omar.  He also described al Moayed's humanitarian work on 
behalf of the poor, and expressed concern about his health 
while in custody.  Qahtan said that while he would not be 
shocked by some people being definitively linked with 
al-Qaeda, the alleged links between Moayed and al-Qaeda were 
unbelievable as he was not an extremist personality.  Qahtan 
asked for evidence of such links, and said that if such 
evidence were provided his party would support the arrest 
because Islah is totally against al-Qaeda.  (Comment:  Not 
true, especially Islah's Zindani wing.  End Comment)  Qahtan 
said that Islah feels strongly enough to offer to take 
responsibility for al Moayed and provide guarantees unless 
clear evidence emerged to prove links to al-Qaeda. 
 
4.  (S)  PolOff said that the two arrested were being held in 
Germany pending a court hearing, and that details about the 
criminal case would become public as the legal process 
continued.  PolOff noted that there was evidence linking al 
Moayed to al-Qaeda financing.  Qahtan asked about whether al 
Moayed's fundraising for Hamas via al-Aqsa would also be part 
of the court case, noting that while "everyone was against 
al-Qaeda, support for Palestinians is another matter." 
PolOff emphasized a focus on links to al-Qaeda and allowing 
due process to take its course.  PolOff said that these 
arrests should not become a political issue between Islah and 
the U.S., and restraint in politicizing the arrests within 
Yemen would be prudent to avoid inflaming the situation. 
Qahtan agreed to advise restraint and said he hoped that the 
dialogue on this issue will continue. 
 
----------------- 
German Assessment 
----------------- 
5.  (S)  German Ambassador to Yemen Werner Zimprich told 
Ambassador Hull January 14 that he has received several 
"grass roots" appeals from Yemeni beneficiaries of 
al-Moayed's charity to return him to Yemen.  ROYG Interior 
Minister Alimi, who enjoys significant credibility, also 
argued strongly, in support of Yemen's case, with Ambassador 
Zimprich that al-Moayed has no links to terrorism.  The 
German Ambassador is re-assessing security for German 
citizens, including many development assistance workers.  As 
yet, he has not decided on a formal drawdown, but some 
Embassy employees have been encouraged to extend leaves 
outside Yemen. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
6.  (S)  Comment:  Several contacts have told Post they 
expect an active negative public reaction, including possible 
demonstrations.  The course of the German extradition process 
and subsequent U.S. prosecution will be followed closely by 
many Yemenis and will influence the shape of popular reaction 
in Yemen.  Embassy will assess security ramifications for 
Amcits at an EAC January 14.  As we proceed with extradition, 
U.S. public diplomacy should stress fair legal processes, 
al-Qaeda links and appropriate humanitarian treatment, e.g. 
medical care for any health problems.  End Comment. 
HULL 

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