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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 16:46 GMT
Terror suspects held in Yemen
Men read newspapers in the Yemeni capital Sanaa
Yemenis read news of the campaign against militants
Five of 17 men named in a US Federal Bureau of Investigation terrorism alert this week are being held in Yemen, American and Yemeni officials have said.

The five are all Yemeni nationals said to have been trained in Afghanistan.

Suspects in custody
Issam Ahmad Dibwan al-Makhlafi
Ahmad al-Akhader Nasser Albidani
Bashir Ali Nasser al-Sharari
Abdulaziz Muhammad Saleh bin Otash
Shuhour Abdullah Mukbil al-Sabri
Riyadh Shikawi
They were already in custody when the US released a list of suspects on Monday, Yemeni officials said. They were arrested at the end of last year or early this year.

A sixth man is in custody in a country outside the Middle East, American officials said.

The names and pictures of all six have been removed from the FBI alert, the officials said.

Suspects at large

The Yemeni Government says there may be other al-Qaeda suspects in the country, but also says the network has no military training camps or organised presence.

The FBI says it is continuing an international search for the other suspects, including a man named as the possible ringleader, Fawaz Yayhya al-Rabeei, a Yemeni citizen born in Saudi Arabia.

FBI agent holds up the list of wanted men
FBI agent holds up the list of wanted men
On Wednesday, an al-Qaeda suspect related to one of the men on the FBI list accidentally blew himself up after being cornered by security forces in a suburb of the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

The man - Samir Ahmed Mohammed al-Hada - was also closely related to one of the 11 September hijackers, security officials said.

Evidence found

After the explosion police said they had searched al-Hada's house, seizing weapons, documents, books, a mobile telephone and a piece of paper containing telephone numbers.

Scores of Yemenis are believed to have joined al-Qaeda - the organisation blamed for the 11 September attacks on the United States.

But the authorities in Yemen are keen to get rid of their reputation as a safe haven for terrorists.

They have intensified military patrols in the Marib area, east of Sanaa, in the hunt for al-Qaeda suspects.

Iranian connection

Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities have informed European embassies in Tehran that some of their citizens were arrested on its territory.

There have been reports of al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects entering Iran.

Iranian state radio reported on Thursday that 150 foreigners had been arrested in Iran.

Most were Arabs, but some held French, British, Belgian and Dutch passports.

An official quoted by the radio stopped short of saying those arrested were members of the former Taleban regime in Afghanistan or Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, but confirmed reports that suspects were present in Iran.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | Americas
FBI's new terror suspects
12 Feb 02 | Americas
Alert stirs US terror fears
07 Feb 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' had Yemen hopes
18 Dec 01 | Middle East
Yemen's uphill struggle with al-Qaeda
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