By Mohamed al-Azaki and Wang Qiuyun
Al-Qaida militants who have recently overrun the town of Radda proposed to the Yemeni government the release of 400 jailed operatives in return for the group’s withdrawal. Such domestic insecurity aroused fears in the government and the media over the collapse of a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal.
Tariq al-Dhahab, the commander of the al-Qaida militants in Radda in al-Bayda province, some 130 km southeast of the capital Sanaa, told the tribal mediators that his group would retreat from the town if the transitional government sets free 400 al-Qaida convicts imprisoned in Sanaa, a government official told Xinhua on Wednesday.
“They also demanded the court to introduce the Sharia Islamic Law in the town,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
An official of the Yemeni intelligence Political Security Agency told Xinhua “nearly all al-Qaida prisoners in south and southeast Yemen were rescued over the past months by their fellows, like what happened in provinces of Aden, Shabwa and Lahj. Or the prisoners broke out on their own by digging tunnels, like what happened in Mukalla on June, 22, 2011.”
But in Sanaa, there is still a large number of al-Qaida operatives held in prison, said the intelligence official, who asked to remain anonymous.
Al-Qaida’s demand was immediately rejected by the government and intelligence officials in Sanaa. “The government will not agree to the demand of the terrorists of releasing their jailed operatives,” according to a brief statement by a senior official of the Yemeni government.