SAN'A, Yemen — A court in Yemen sentenced an al-Qaida militant to death on Monday after convicting him of involvement in terror attacks and manufacturing explosives.
The militant, Saleh al-Shawish, shouted in court after the verdict that al-Qaida would have its revenge. "Your destruction will be by our hands, God willing," he barked, "starting in Abyan" — a reference to a southern province where attacks by the terror network against security forces have increased in recent months.
With US help, Yemen has stepped up the fight against al-Qaida's
affiliate in the country, which is believed to have several hundred
fighters entrenched in remote, mountainous areas of the country. The
group, called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, announced last week in
an online audio message the formation of the "Abyan-Aden Army," aimed at
toppling the Yemeni government.
Al-Shawish was arrested in February and later charged with involvement
in seven attacks on security facilities, training would-be suicide
bombers and bomb making.
Al-Shawish, also known as Salem al-Hadrami, confessed to blowing up
security checkpoints starting in 2007, according to transcripts of his
interrogations. He told the state prosecutor's office that he, along
with others, attacked oil facilities in the eastern province of
Hadramawt using Katusha rockets.
He rejected a court's offer to assign a defense lawyer. He also turned down a request to appeal the verdict.
Al-Qaida's fighters have escalated attacks in recent weeks, with a
failed attack on a British diplomat in the capital, San'a, and drive-by
shootings against top Yemeni intelligence and counter-terrorism
officials in southern and eastern provinces.
Yemeni authorities said Sunday that warplanes struck suspected al-Qaida hideouts in the south, leaving at least five militants.
Over the past week, several foreign embassies — including the United
States, Britain, Australia, France and South Korea — have issued stepped
up warnings to the citizens, cautioning them against travel in Yemen,
and warning of the possibility of al-Qaida attacks.