SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni authorities released the names of 25 wanted al-Qaida suspects on Monday, saying they were planning terrorist attacks in the capital, Sanaa, and other cities across the country.
The development came as Washington ordered the closure of 20 U.S. diplomatic missions in the Muslim world through the week, following warnings of a possible al-Qaida attack.
A statement from Yemen’s Interior Ministry said the suspects were going to target foreign offices and organizations, as well as Yemeni government installations in the impoverished Arab country. It said security was beefed up around embassies, ports, airports, oil installations and power stations.
The statement listed some allegedly senior figures in the branch, known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi nationals Ibrahim Mohammed el-Rubaish and Ibrahim Hassan el-Assiri.
El-Rubaish was released from Guantanamo in 2006 and is believed to have played significant roles in al-Qaida’s expanding offshoot in Yemen. He is a theological adviser to the group and his writings and sermons are prominent in the group’s literature.
The Yemeni statement said security forces will pay $23,000 to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the arrests of any of the wanted men.
Washington considers the al-Qaida branch in Yemen among the terror network’s most dangerous and has launched drone strikes against its top figures in Yemen.
The United States has also assisted Yemen’s military in fighting the militants who, at one point during the country’s recent political turmoil, had overrun large sections of land in the south. The group has also carried out bold assassination attacks on Yemeni security forces, killing hundreds over the past two years.
Separately, Yemeni security officials said a hand grenade thrown at worshippers killed a man and wounded 16 people. The attack took place during evening prayers in al-Mahweet province where al-Qaida is not believed to be active.
Officials said they did not know who was behind the attack but that local residents had surrounded the house of a man they suspected of being behind the attack. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to release the information.