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Main Yemeni al-Qaida operative re-captured

SANAA, Yemen, July 5 (UPI) -- Security forces seized runaway al-Qaida leader in Yemen, Jamal Badawi, who had escaped from Sanaa's main prison with 22 other members of the terrorist group.

The opposition Yemen's Children League Party quoted security sources in the southeastern province of Hadramout as saying security forces captured Badawi in the area five days ago before he was transferred to Sanaa amid strict security measures.

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The party said on its Web site Wednesday that the official authorities are keeping silent about the operation for security reasons.

The sources refused to give details about the operation which they described as an intelligence maneuver, noting that security agents intercepted and monitored Badawi, who was found hiding in a house in Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout.

There was no information about a possible intelligence contribution by the United States in tracing Badawi, the main convict in the bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden in October 2000.

Washington has offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to the capture of Badawi, regarded as one of the most dangerous al-Qaida operatives in Yemen and the mastermind of most terrorist attacks against foreign interests in the poor Arab Gulf country.

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Badawi was also the mastermind of two escapes by al-Qaida prisoners in Aden in 2003 and last February's mass flight of 23 terror suspects and convicts from the central intelligence prison in Sanaa, which sparked U.S. accusations against Yemen and a large controversy about the extent of al-Qaida's infiltration of Yemeni security agencies.

U.S. intelligence reports suggested recently that Badawi might lead al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, succeeding Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after he was killed in a U.S. air raid near Baghdad last month.

In September 2005, a special criminal court sentenced Badawi to death, but an appeal court reduced the sentence to 15 years in prison.

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