Yemen detains two French al-Qaeda suspects

Detention comes a week after Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks in Paris.

    The United States regards the Yemen-based franchise of al-Qaeda as the most dangerous branch [File: Reuters]
    The United States regards the Yemen-based franchise of al-Qaeda as the most dangerous branch [File: Reuters]

    Yemen has detained two Frenchmen for questioning over suspected links to al-Qaeda, according to security officials.

    "During the past two days, two French nationals accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda have been arrested," said national security service chief General Mohammed al-Ahmadi.

    Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for a January 7 assault on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in which two Frenchmen killed 12 people.

    The perpetrators, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, are known to have trained with al-Qaeda in Yemen, which was formed in 2009 after a merger between armed groups there and Saudi Arabia.

    "There are around 1,000 al-Qaeda militants in Yemen from 11 Arab and non-Arab countries," Ahmadi told reporters in the capital Sanaa.

    Washington regards the Yemen-based franchise as the network's most dangerous branch and has carried out a sustained drone war against its leaders.

    Order from leader

    AQAP said the orders to carry out last week's attack had come from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who succeeded al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after his death in 2011.

    Cherif Kouachi told French media before he was killed by police that a trip he made to Yemen the same year was financed by Anwar al-Awlak, a US-Yemeni religious leader killed by a US drone strike in 2011.

    AQAP has a record of launching attacks far from its base, including a bid to blow up a US airliner over Michigan on Christmas Day in 2009.

    It recently called on its supporters to carry out attacks in France, which is part of a US-led coalition conducting air strikes against fighters from the Islamic State group in Iraq and the Levant.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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