‘Most wanted terrorist’ appeals in Yemeni court against conviction

February 23rd, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by admin  

Sanaa (Yemen), Feb 23 (DPA) A US citizen of Yemeni origin wanted by the US Federal Bureau for Investigation (FBI) over terror charges appeared at a state security court here Saturday to appeal against a 10-year jail sentence handed to him by a lower court last November. Jaber al-Banna, also known as Jaber Elbaneh is listed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list with a reward of $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

He was among 32 men convicted by the first instance state security court in Sanaa Nov 7, 2007 of plotting terror attacks, including two car bombs on oil facilities in eastern Yemen in 2006.

The other convicts in the case included the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen Nasser al-Wuhaishi, and Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Qassim al-Raimi, who received 15-year jail term each, for planning two car bomb attacks on two oil facilities in the south-eastern province of Hadhramout and the central province of Marib.

The September 2006 attacks left four attackers and a security guard dead.

Al-Banna, 41, told the court that his conviction was “unfair” and said he had not plot any attacks in Yemen or the US.

“I have not committed any act, neither in this country nor in America,” al-Banna told the court’s panel. “I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for doing no offence. This is not fair,” he said.

The court adjourned the case until March 3.

Al-Banna, who was tried in absentia after his escape with 22 other Al Qaeda operatives from a Yemeni prison in 2006, is wanted by the US over charges of “providing material support to terrorists.” He surrendered to Yemeni authorities late last year.

The man, who holds both Yemeni and US nationalities, was identified by the FBI in 2003 as a member of a cell in Lackawanna, New York.

Six of al-Banna’s alleged counterparts in the Lackawanna case pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in 2003 and are serving jail sentences ranging from seven to 10 years in a US prison.

After the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, Yemen allied itself with the US-led “war on terror” and pursued suspected members of Al Qaeda and put scores of them on trial.

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