Diplomatic cables released by secrets outlet WikiLeaks reveal that the Republic of Yemen detained 28 alleged Al Qaeda members on behalf of the United States, despite an investigation that found no evidence they were involved in terrorist acts.
The 28 detained Yemeni citizens were arrested after returning to Yemen from Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, according to a cable dated December 6, 2004. The detainees were meant to be released during the Ramadan amnesty, but the Republic of Yemen agreed to continue to hold them based on objections from the US.
“We are waiting for information from you,” Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh was quoted as saying.
The cable also shows that President Saleh vowed to increase cooperation with the US in return for military assistance and wanted to be among the first leaders to personally congratulate President Bush on his reelection.
“Where is the money for the Army and what about my spare (F-5) parts?” the president is said to have asked.
Another diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in December showed that the US military covered up the killing of dozens of civilians during a cruise missile strike in southern Yemen.
On December 17, 2009, an alleged Al Qaeda training camp in Abyan was hit by a cruise missile, killing 41 local residents, including 14 women, 21 children, and 14 alleged al Qaeda members.
Yemen was said to be home to Al Qaeda operatives, who claimed responsibility for the failed bid on December 25, 2009, to blow up a US-bound airliner.
The secret cable from January 2010 corroborated images released earlier this year by Amnesty International, implicating the US in the use of cluster bombs during the incident. According to the cable, President Saleh told US General David Petraeus that his government would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”
President Saleh, who has been in power for 30 years, faced large protests in the past weeks urging him to quit. Apparently relenting to popular sentiment, Saleh pledged February 2 that he would leave office when his term ends in 2013 and that his son would not succeed him.