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Friday, February 14, 2014

AQAP storms prison in Yemen's capital, frees al Qaeda operatives -- By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula freed several of its operatives from the central prison in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a in a complex assault today that involved suicide bombers and an assault team. Nineteen AQAP operatives were among the 29 prisoners who were freed during the attack.

The attack began as a suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives outside the prison, Yemeni security officials told The Associated Press. AQAP fighters then dismounted from two other cars and broke off into two units. One AQAP unit clashed with security guards outside the prison; the unit was backed by fighters who deployed on nearby rooftops and opened fire on the Yemeni guards. Meanwhile the second unit of fighters fanned out into the prison and battled the guards inside.

At least seven Yemeni soldiers were killed and two more were wounded during the fighting, according to the Yemen News Agency.

"Some prisoners," including al Qaeda operatives, "were able to escape from the prison during the attack."
In the course of the assault 29 prisoners escaped, including 19 who "were convicted of terrorism-related charges," according to Mohammed Albasha, Yemen's spokesman in Washington. Albasha published information on his Twitter account.

Among those freed, according to Albasha, are A'hed Aamer and Yaha Haydarah, both of whom are "linked to killing and bombing plots in Abyan" and were "sentenced to seven years in prison"; Mansour Saleh Salem and Mubarak al Shabwani, both of whom "killed three security officials and soldiers, seized an army truck" and were "sentenced to death row"; and Abdulrahman al Sharabi, who "plotted to assassinate President Hadi" and "was sentenced to 10 years in prison."

AQAP has made good on a vow made by its emir, Nasir al Wuhaysi, who also serves as al Qaeda's general manager. In a statement released in August 2013, Wuhayshi praised jihadists currently held in prisons, and said the group would make an effort to free them.

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