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The BBC's Julia Wheeler
"Attempted attack on USS Cole by Yemeni rebels"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK
Yemen arrests embassy plotters
Warship the USS Cole, damaged in a suicide bomb attack in Yemen, October 2000
The Cole was docked in Yemen when it was attacked
Yemeni security authorities have arrested at least eight men on suspicion of plotting to attack the US embassy there.

The suspects are alleged to have been targeting FBI and US Navy personnel who have been investigating last October's attack on the warship USS Cole, also in Yemen.

The US withdrew the investigators on Sunday following what it called a "specific and credible" threat against them.

The suspects - reportedly captured by Yemeni police in possession of grenades, small arms, and a map of the embassy - are believed to be associated with the Saudi-born dissident, Osama bin Laden.

US targets

The US accuses Mr bin Laden of orchestrating attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, killing more than 200 people.

Yemen
He is also suspected of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, killing 17 US sailors and wounding 39.

It is not clear when the arrests took place.

An unnamed Yemeni Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press: "The group was observing the activities of US diplomats and had the embassy and surrounding areas under surveillance."

The official said the US embassy asked for permission to interview the eight arrested men. The US believes a security agreement it signed with Yemen in the wake of the Cole bombing gives it that right.

Request denied

However, Yemen's interior ministry turned down the request, claiming the security agreement only covers the Cole investigation.

Non-essential personnel have been withdrawn from the US embasssy, which is closed to the public and under heavy guard.

More than a dozen suspects have been arrested since the investigation began, including a man accused of selling the boat used in the attack and others who allegedly provided the bombers with logistical aid.

The US has pressed Yemen to delay the trial of the suspects while the search for the mastermind continues.

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See also:

09 Jun 01 | Americas
US embassy in Yemen partially shut
23 Jan 01 | Middle East
Attractive base for anti-West Islamists
06 Dec 00 | Middle East
Yemen confirms Cole suspects' trial
26 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen bomb suspects held
23 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen attack highly 'sophisticated'
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