Prosecutors in Yemen have charged a radical U.S.-born cleric who is allegedly linked to a failed airplane bombing with plotting to kill foreigners and being a member of al-Qaida.
Prosecutors on Tuesday announced the charges against Anwar al-Awlaki in a Sana'a courtroom, where he is being tried in absentia. It is the country's first formal legal action against Awlaki, who is believed to be hiding in Yemen.
U.S. officials believe Awlaki had a role in a failed attack on a U.S.-bound airliner last December, as well as a November 2009 attack that killed 13 people at a U.S. army base in Fort Hood, Texas.
Prosecutors announced the charges against Awlaki as they opened a trial against another man, Hisham Assem. Officials accused Assem of killing a Frenchman during an attack on an oil firm last month. He denied the charges and said he was beaten and forced to give a false confession.
Meanwhile, Yemeni security officials say a manhunt is under way for an al-Qaida-linked bomb-maker wanted for trying to put bombs on U.S.-bound cargo planes.
Security officials say investigators were sent to Yemen's Marib and Shabwa provinces Tuesday in an effort to track down Ibrahim Hasan al-Asiri.
The U.S. says the Saudi-born al-Asiri belongs to al-Qaida's Yemen branch, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Officials say he was responsible for the underwear bomb used in the same failed airliner attack in which Awlaki allegedly had a role.
Also, Yemeni security officials say suspected al-Qaida militants have bombed part of a pipeline in the southern province of Shabwa. Officials say a South Korean firm operates the pipeline, which was attacked Tuesday.
Yemen has been under increased pressure to crack down on al-Qaida-linked terrorists following last week's attempt to place bombs on cargo planes bound for the United States.
Article by VOA News