SANAA, Yemen, April 6 (UPI) -- Judicial authorities are preparing the trial of 172 Yemenis on charges of belonging to al-Qaida and carrying out terrorist attacks in various parts of Yemen.
A source at the ministry of defense was quoted on the ministry's Web site as saying Thursday that the public prosecution was about to complete the interrogation of large numbers of suspects who are believed to be involved in terrorist activities or belonging to the al-Qaida network of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.
The unidentified source said the security agencies recently referred to the public prosecution the files of 172 terror suspects and al-Qaida members for further interrogation and trial.
He said the suspects have been rounded up in recent months on charges of forming armed gangs to carry out terrorist attacks in several parts of the country, jeopardizing Yemen's higher interests in addition to planning attacks against foreign interests. Many have also been arrested on suspicion of belonging to al-Qaida.
The suspects will be tried in the next few days by courts specializing in terrorism.
The announcement was made at a time when Yemeni courts are trying two suspected al-Qaida cells, one of 17 members and the other of 14, including the network's number two man in Yemen, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal al-Makni.
On February 4, 23 al-Qaida prisoners, including some convicted in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden, escaped from the central intelligence prison in Sanaa, sparking anger and denunciation in Washington.