Arab figures funded al-Qaeda: terror suspect

Sanaa - The initial interrogation of a top figure in the Yemen branch of the al-Qaeda terror network, Mohamed Hamdi al-Ahdal, alias Abu Issam al-Maki, has revealed information about financial dealings between him and important figures in neighbouring countries.

"Ahdal provided important information to Yemeni investigators, which implicates important personalities in Arab states regarding financial dealings with Ahdal, who is considered by the Yemeni authorities as the central figure in al-Qaeda in Yemen," a source close to the investigation told AFP.

The source added that authorities in Yemen believe Saudi-born Ahdal, 32, "is behind the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 and the French oil tanker Limburg in October of last year."

The ongoing investigation with Ahdal, added the source, is likely to reveal additional important information regarding "terrorist" operations that took place in Yemen in recent years and the identity of those involved directly or those implicated financially or involved in the planning.

The information will reveal the identities of external figures involved, which Yemeni authorities are not disclosing at the moment for security reasons.

Yemeni authorities believe Ahdal is the second-in-command to Ali Qaed Sunian al-Harithi, alias Abu Ali al-Harithi, who was among the six al-Qaeda suspects killed in November 2002 in a missile attack by the United States Central Intelligence Agency in the desert region of al-Naqaa in Marib province, east of Sanaa.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been under pressure from Washington since the September 11 attacks on the United States to crack down on presumed al-Qaeda militants. - Sapa-AFP

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