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Yemen posts reward for al Qaeda suspects

By Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
  • Yemeni news agency names 8 suspects
  • Attacks this week kill local security, intelligence chiefs
  • Governor was attacked Thursday, but survived

(CNN) -- Yemen's Interior Ministry is offering a reward 20 million Yemeni Riyal (almost US$100,000) for information leading to the capture of eight al Qaeda in Yemen suspects, Yemen's official news agency, SABA, reported late Friday.

SABA identified the eight and said they were "misled by senior al Qaeda members who are obsessed with death, destruction and disturbing the public security."

The public is urged to "cooperate with the authorities" and warned against sheltering any of them, the agency reported.

Al Qaeda is a growing problem in the Arabian Peninsula country. While most security experts and Yemeni government officials estimate the group's numbers in Yemen to be between 200 to 300 members, the government has stepped up its fight against it.

Since Tuesday, al Qaeda in Yemen (also known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) is suspected of being behind three separate attacks that have killed at least 2 Yemeni security officials, according to a government official.

Col. Riyadh al-Khatabi, intelligence chief in the town of Seiyun in Yemen's southeastern Hadramawt province, was shot and killed Tuesday. On Thursday, Abdullah al-Baham, security chief in the town of Mudiya in Abyan province, was also shot and killed.

Later that day, another attack happened as the governor of Abyan province, Ahmad al-Maisari, was on his way to the scene of the earlier attack to investigate. Gunmen opened fire on al-Maisari's convoy. A firefight ensued, and two of the governor's security guards were wounded.

There has been no claim of responsibility for any of those attacks, but a government official told CNN that al Qaeda in Yemen is suspected of being behind them.

"They are learning from the playbook of al Qaeda in Iraq," said the official, referring to new tactics by the group aimed at directly undermining Yemen's government by targeting government officials.

"These assassination tactics show how al Qaeda in Yemen is adapting and it's really dangerous," the official told CNN.

Since its inception in January 2009, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabian, Korean, Yemeni and U.S. targets.

Earlier this week, the second edition of an online al Qaeda magazine surfaced with frank essays, creatively designed imagery and ominous terror tips such as using a pickup truck as a weapon and shooting up a crowded restaurant in Washington. The magazine, published in English, is called "Inspire," and intelligence officials believe that an American citizen named Samir Khan, now living in Yemen, is the driving force behind the publication.

The first edition of the magazine came out in July. The latest edition emerged on the 10th anniversary of the suicide attack on the USS Cole -- a guided-missile destroyer struck as it refueled in Aden, Yemen.

This week also saw the release of an audio recording purporting to be from Qassim al-Rimi (also known as Abu Hurira al-Sanaei), the leader al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that posted on radical militant websites. The speaker promised that Yemen's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, would be punished "for his crimes" and announced that a new army would rid the country of "crusaders and apostates."

CNN could not verify the authenticity of the recording.