Al Qaeda linked suicide bomber drives car bomb into Spanish tourist groups killing 10 people
July 2, 2007
MIM: A terrorist attack which killed tourists years ago was linked to now jailed cleric Abu Hamza Al Masri of the Finsbury Park mosque. The United States was trying to extradite Hamza but their attempt was thwarted when the British jailed him. Hamza's stepson was among those for whom Birmingham Councilwoman Salma Yaqoob mounted a campaign to have freed after they were convicted in the tourist abductions and murders.
July 3, 2007
Spanish tourists killed as suicide bomber strikes in Yemen
Seven Spanish tourists were killed in Yemen yesterday when an apparent suicide bomber linked to Al-Qaeda rammed a car packed with explosives into their convoy.
Witnesses said the road in the province of Marib was littered with body parts and charred vehicles from the huge blast, which was reportedly heard for miles. The explosion also killed their two Yemeni guides and left a further six Spanish tourists injured. They were rushed to hospitals in Sanaa and Marib, around 100 miles away.
The tourists were apparently finishing a tour of a 3,000 year-old temple in Marib, which dates back to the time of the biblical Queen of Sheba.
Yemeni officials said the convoy, which was carrying 13 tourists from the Basque Country and Catalonia, was attacked by "an explosives-laden car driven by a suicide terrorist".
"Preliminary information indicates that Al Qaeda is behind this cowardly terrorist attack," an Interior Ministry official quoted by the by Saba news agency said.
Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama Bin Laden, has been repeatedly targeted by Al Qaeda in recent years.
In 1998 three British tourists were killed during a kidnapping in which the jailed cleric of Finsbury Park, Abu Hamza, was implicated. The hostagetakers, who allegedly contacted Abu Hamza by satellite phone an hour after the kidnapping, wanted to exchange the tourists for six men, including Abu Hamza's stepson, arrested on their way to blow up British targets in the port city Aden.
But before the handover could be arranged the Yemeni army staged a botched rescue mission and in the ensuing shootout four of the tourists were killed.
Last September, four suicide bombers and a security guard were killed when they tried unsuccessfully to attack an oil refinery. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks and vowed further strikes in the future.
In 2003, one Canadian was killed and another wounded when a Yemeni gunman opened fire at an oilfield. In 2000, Al Qaeda militants launched a suicide attack on the US warship Cole, killing 17 soldiers. Two years later it hit a French oil tanker, killing two.
The attack on Spanish tourists came a week after six Spanish peacekeepers were killed in Lebanon when a roadside bomb ripped through one of their armoured car. It also came on the final day of evidence in the trial of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, in which Al Qaeda-inspired militants killed 191 people.
However, the Spanish Government did not immediately link the attack in Yemen with any other incidents.
"We roundly condemn this terrorist attack on a group of Spanish tourists and call on the Yemeni authorities to thoroughly investigate this abhorrent attack and bring those responsible to justice," the ruling Socialist Party said.
Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said a plane would be sent immediately to Yemen to bring the dead and wounded back to Spain. They were waiting to inform the families of their deaths before releasing the names of the dead.
Al Qaeda reportedly issued a statement last week, demanding the release of its members jailed in Yemen and threatening unspecified consequences if they were not met.
Questions were last night being asked in Spain about why the tourists had been travelling in such a dangerous area without any protection. The Spanish Foreign Ministry warns against visiting Yemen "without a military escort" because of the risk of terrorist attacks or kidnappings by tribes seeking favours from the Government.
Yesterday, the Yemeni Government vowed to find those responsible. "The security forces will spare no effort to track down the terrorist elements behind this criminal act and bring them to justice for punishment," it said.