|03SANAA2434||2003-09-29 04:42:00||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Sanaa|
1. (C) Begin Summary: The Ambassador convened an EAC meeting
on September 28 to consider information provided to the
Embassy by the ROYG concerning recent disruption of a local
Al-Qaida cell targeting U.S., other Western, and Yemeni
objectives. The new information, provided by Interior
Minister Alimi in a briefing for the U.S. and four other
Western embassies, elaborates preliminary information
provided by President Saleh during GEN Abizaid's 9/20 visit
(reftel). While the identified threat has been disrupted,
the EAC decided to issue a warden message immediately and
schedule a meeting of wardens later in the week. The EAC
also reviewed security measures for upcoming public events
and USG visitors. Key offices and personnel represented at
the meeting included: POL/ECON, CONS, RSO, MO, FPD, POL/MIL,
DAO, OMC, and SOC YEMEN. End Summary.
2. (C) DCM opened the 9/28 EAC meeting with a readout of the
just-concluded briefing by Interior Minister Dr. Rashad
al-Alimi for key Western embassies. Attendees at the
briefing included the Ambassador (accompanied by DCM and
RSO), the Italian Ambassador, the French Charge, the German
DCM and the British Ambassador.
ROYG Briefing: Disruption of new al-Qaida Cell in Sanaa
3. (C) Alimi convened the meeting to provide information on
Yemen's recent disruption of a Sanaa-based al-Qaida cell.
(Note: Alimi's briefing elaborated on information initially
passed by President Saleh in his 9/19 meeting with GEN
Abizaid (reftel). End note). The Minister told attendees
that the cell had identified a long list of Western targets,
including: the U.S. Ambassador, the British Embassy, the
Italian Embassy, and the French Cultural Center. Other
targets included the Hadda Compound, Spectrum (a language
school with no Embassy affiliation), and many senior ROYG
officials and government buildings.
4. (C) Alimi said that only the UK Embassy attack was in
operational preparation, but noted that the arms and
explosives to be used in the attack -- which were to be
obtained in Marib with money sent from Saudi Arabia -- had
not been received by the Sanaa cell. He showed tactical
sketches of the UK Embassy and shared detailed surveillance
notes obtained from the four arrested members of the cell.
He promised to provide the UK Ambassador with a copy of video
surveillance footage of her embassy.
5. (C) Alimi stated that the cell had targeted the U.S.
Ambassador's motorcade for attack on two prior occasions, but
had been deterred by his security escort. (Note:
Ambassador's detail includes both Embassy bodyguards and
Yemeni police elements. End note)
6. (C) The Interior Minister said that the arrested al-Qaida
cell members -- led by 'Amr Abdul Rahman al-Sharif, who is in
custody -- called their group the "Cells of Faith and Unity,"
which was a part of a larger grouping called the "Unification
Brigades." He indicated that the ROYG had no previous
knowledge of this nomenclature, but stressed that the group
was definitely tied to Al-Qaida. The individuals arrested
and currently being held are of Yemeni and Saudi nationality.
Alimi added that information about the cell had already been
shared with Saudi Arabia -- specifically with Deputy Interior
Minister Mohamed bin Naif, currently in Sanaa. Alimi added
that he would also brief the Iranian Ambassador on September
29 and request Iranian assistance with the investigation, as
one of the cell members was based in Iran.
7. (C) Dr. Alimi told attendees that although the imminent
threat presented by the operations cell had been dealt with,
attendees should review security procedures and exercise
extraordinary caution. Dr. Al-Alimi said that additional
ROYG security on targeted facilities had already been put in
place. When asked how the ROYG was going to publicize the
information, he responded that comments would be minimized
due to the ongoing investigation and the desire to capture
suspects who remain at large. When presented with our duty
to release a warden message, Dr. Al-Alimi agreed to the
release of non-specific threat information.
8. (C) The EAC agreed to issue a warden message and hold a
warden meeting within the next few days. At Alimi's request,
the warden message will not/not include specific details of
the disrupted terrorist cell, but will advise wardens of a
new threat and urge exceptional precautions. Taking into
account ROYG security enhancements at Embassy-affiliated
locations and all other locations on the target list, the EAC
agreed that the Embassy's current security posture and
measures were appropriate. Upcoming social events are to
proceed as scheduled with necessary security measures in
place for each. The DCM reiterated the need to practice
vigilant personal security and avoid predictability. Travel
outside of the capitol will continue to be subject to advance
consultation with ROYG authorities. The EAC agreed to defer
discussion of the Marine ball (set for November 10 on the
Embassy compound) until a subsequent meeting.