Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 2497 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 07SANAA1989, TOWNSEND-SALEH MEETING PROVIDES OPENING FOR

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07SANAA1989.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SANAA1989 2007-10-30 06:06 2010-12-03 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Sanaa
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #1989/01 3030637
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 300637Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8277
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0057
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT PRIORITY 0506
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SANAA 001989 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

NSC FOR ADNAN KIFAYAT; WHITE HOUSE FOR JOHN PEARSON 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PTER YM
SUBJECT: TOWNSEND-SALEH MEETING PROVIDES OPENING FOR 
ADDITIONAL CT COOPERATION 

REF: A. SANAA 1859 
B. SANAA 1935 
C. SANAA 1633 
D. SANAA 1901 

Classified By: DCM Angie Bryan for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1.(U) Frances Townsend, Assistant to the President for 
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, has cleared this 
cable. 

Summary 
- - - - - 

2.(S) Frances Townsend, Assistant to the President for 
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, met with President 
Saleh in Aden on October 22 to discuss mutual cooperation in 
the War on Terror. During the meeting, Saleh accepted 
Townsend's request for USG interrogation of Jamal al-Badawi, 
convicted architect of the bombing of the USS Cole. Saleh 
blamed "aging agents" in the Political Security Organization 
(PSO) for inadequate cooperation, asked the USG to pressure 
regional Gulf countries to stop their support of southern 
"secessionist" movements, accepted Townsend's offer of USG 
assistance in preparation of counterterrorism and cash 
courier laws, and agreed to the need for joint operations to 
combat terrorism outside Yemen. Saleh also warned against 
the threat of Iran, specifically with regard to its role 
inside Iraq, and promised to do more to curb the flow of 
young Yemeni men going to fight in Iraq. The meeting was 
generally a constructive one, with the Yemeni President 
making some positive commitments. Post will continue to work 
with the ROYG to ensure these commitments are not forgotten. 
End Summary 

Jamal "He is Under my Microscope" al-Badawi and Friends 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

3.(S) Frances Townsend, Assistant to the President for 
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, met with President 
Ali Abdullah Saleh in Aden on October 22 to discuss mutual 
cooperation in the War on Terror. During the lunch portion 
of the meeting, also attended by the Foreign Minister, the 
Governor of Aden, and a member of Parliament, she asked for 
an update on the status of Jamal al-Badawi, convicted 
architect of the bombing of the USS Cole (ref B). The 
President confirmed al-Badawi's release, clarifying that he 
is under house arrest, living and working on his farm near 
Aden, while the ROYG closely monitors him. Saleh added that 
while Yemeni authorities pursued al-Badawi, the ROYG was 
transmitting messages to him "promising" that if he turned 
himself in, his "situation would get better." Saleh said he 
personally met with al-Badawi "two weeks ago" and had a frank 
discussion with him. "Al-Badawi promised to give up 
terrorism and I told him that his actions damaged Yemen and 
its image; he began to understand," Saleh said. 

4.(S) Townsend expressed dismay over al-Badawi's release and 
asked for USG access to interrogate him. Saleh told Townsend 
not to worry, "he is under my microscope," but had no 
objections to her request, reiterating numerous times that 
interested USG entities could interrogate al-Badawi by 
coordinating with the Political Security Organization (PSO). 

5.(S) Saleh specifically mentioned two other escapees that 
remain at large: Abdullah al-Wadi'i and Nasr al-Wahishi. He 
said al-Wahishi had taken the place of Abu Ali as head of 
al-Qaeda in Yemen. Townsend reiterated USG concern over the 
ROYG's house arrest system, with a reference to the cases of 
Ibrahim Makri and Mansur al-Bahani, both of whom were linked 
to terrorist activity while under house arrest. 

Weapons Trafficking: You Can't Make This Stuff Up 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

6.(C) As Townsend began to ask Saleh about his efforts to 
combat weapons trafficking, Saleh interrupted her to invite 
one of Yemen's top three weapons traffickers, Faris Mana'a, 
into the lunch meeting. When Mana'a, who met with the 
President earlier in the day, entered the room, Saleh 
jokingly addressed the Embassy Assistant Legal Attach 
(Legatt), saying, "hey FBI, if he does not behave properly, 

you can take him... back to Washington in Townsend's plane or 
to Guantanamo." The Legatt replied, "we could put both 
Mana'a and al-Badawi on the plane;" however, the translator 
did not report this to Saleh, making it unlikely that the 
President heard the Legatt's reply. Meanwhile, Presidential 
staff provided Mana'a with a chair at the table. Saleh 
explained that the ROYG had recently confiscated a shipment 
of "pistols" from Mana'a and given them to the military. 
Townsend lightheartedly commented, "he has donated weapons to 
the nation's military -- he can be considered a patriot now." 
Saleh responded with laughter, saying, "no, he is a double 
agent -- he also gave weapons to the al-Houthi rebels." The 
President said the Ministry of Defense was the only entity in 
Yemen authorized to purchase weapons. (Comment: If the 
President,s statement were an accurate portrayal of the 
situation, arms dealers would effectively be out of business. 
Saleh's comment has been made to Post numerous times before. 
This, and Mana'a's presence at the Palace, raises serious 
questions about the President's commitment to stopping 
weapons trafficking. Mana'a also runs a construction company 
and a petroleum services business, with contracts in Iraq. 
His ties to Saleh may extend beyond money made from the 
weapons trade. End Comment) 

7.(C) Saleh said the new weapons ban (ref C) in Yemen's major 
cities had been a success, receiving a surprisingly positive 
public response. He specified that in the past month 45,000 
pieces of weaponry had been collected. The Governor of Aden 
added that his city was "100% clean of weapons." Saleh 
expressed a desire to "follow the United States example" of 
licensing guns. When asked by the Legatt if he was going to 
expand the weapons ban outside major cities, Saleh responded 
that it is a "step-by-step" process. 

PSO: The Old Guard is the Problem 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

8.(S) Townsend complimented Yemen's National Security Bureau, 
saying, "it has done good work, despite its youth," yet 
complained of a lack of cooperation from the PSO with the 
USG. Saleh replied that his proposed constitutional 
amendments (ref A) were the first step in addressing this 
problem. At Foreign Minister al-Qirbi's insistence, Saleh 
elaborated upon his answer, adding that, "although the PSO 
has firm orders to cooperate and respond quickly, its agents 
are aging," alluding to PSO Head, Ghalib Mutahi Qamish. 
(Note: Qamish has been a topic of (sometimes tense) 
discussion between Townsend and Saleh in the past. End Note) 

The Gulf Factor: Fueling Southern Unrest 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

9.(S) While Saleh claimed the situation in the rebellious 
northern Saada governorate was "very calm," he expressed 
apprehension over the unrest in the South. The President 
asked the USG to pressure countries funding southern 
opposition, saying, "it is important that Yemen not reach a 
state of instability. We need your support." Townsend 
replied, "you do not even have to think about it. Of course 
we support Yemen." 

10.(S) Saleh asserted that neighboring Arab countries were 
intent on destabilizing his country by supporting the 
southern "secessionist" movement, "not because they have 
anything against Yemen, but because we are following the 
United States' democracy model, and they do not want a 
democracy in the region." He specifically referred to Crown 
Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia, but inculpated other Gulf 
countries as well. According to Saleh, Gulf Islamic 
organizations are funding the opposition in the South and 
supporting secessionist movement leaders living in Oman, 
Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. He said some of those regional 
Islamic organizations had links to the radical factions 
within the Islamist opposition party Islah - calling them 
"jihadists, salafis, and al-Qaeda." (Note: Islah is the 
largest opposition party in Yemen and is largely recognized 
as moderate. It includes radical factions that are 
considered to be a minority. End Note) 

USG Support: CT, Cash Courier Law and Joint Operations 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - - - - 


11.(C) Townsend asked about the progress of Yemen's draft 
counterterrorism (CT) law. Saleh answered, "it has come a 
long way, but we have not yet fully achieved our goals." 
Townsend offered USG technical assistance in drafting the law 
and training for its implementation, which Saleh casually 
accepted. (Note: The Minister of Legal Affairs recently 
rejected an offer for the same assistance (ref D). The lack 
of an effective CT law sometimes leaves the ROYG without a 
legal basis to hold terrorists. Post views passage of a 
comprehensive CT Law as a significant step in strengthening 
counterterrorism bilateral relations. End Note) 

12.(C) Townsend recommended a cash courier law to strengthen 
Yemen's efforts at combating terrorism and proposed USG 
assistance with the drafting of this law as well, which Saleh 
also nonchalantly accepted. (Comment: Saleh's informal 
manner makes it unclear how resolute he was in accepting, yet 
it is certain that he did not reject the offers made by 
Townsend and generally agreed to her proposals. End Comment) 

13.(S) Townsend said USG agencies want to work with the ROYG 
on counterterrorism outside, not just inside, Yemen. Saleh 
agreed. He noted that Usama bin Laden's personal bodyguards 
are all Yemeni, alluding to the need for USG-ROYG cooperation 
in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saleh 
added that "violence by governments is not always the 
answer," and asked for greater USG assistance in development. 
(Note: Yemen is a beneficiary of significant non-CT aid 
through the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the US 
Department of Agriculture Food for Progress Program and, as 
of November 1, returns to the Millennium Challenge 
Cooperation's Threshold Country Program. End Note) 

Iran, Iran, Iran 
- - - - - - - - - 

14.(S) Throughout the meeting, Saleh repeatedly asked about 
Iran and the USG's position vis-a-vis the country. Townsend 
replied that if Iran does not get serious, the USG will be 
forced to return to the United Nations to request more 
sanctions. 

15.(S) Saleh warned Townsend about Qatar's relationship with 
Iran, cautioning that although the two countries are allies, 
Iran could turn on Qatar at any time. Townsend agreed, 
saying she had relayed the same message to Qatar, and asked 
Saleh if he had spoken to the Qatari Emir about this matter. 
Saleh responded, "of course." He also asked Townsend to 
deliver a verbatim message to President Bush about Iran: "you 
must discipline and tame a child when he is young." 

16.(S) On Iraq, Saleh asked Townsend to tell President Bush 
that, "Maliki represents Iran in Iraq, he is worse than 
Ahmedinejad." He repeatedly referred to Maliki as a "dog," 
although the embarrassed interpreter substituted the word 
"he." 

Foreign Fighters to Iraq 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 

17.(S) Townsend expressed USG concern over young Yemeni men 
going to fight in Iraq and asked Saleh to do more to tackle 
the problem. Saleh replied that it is an extremely difficult 
task, as Yemeni men do not travel directly to Iraq. They 
first travel to Cairo, Damascus, or Riyadh, making it 
practically impossible to track who is traveling to Baghdad. 
Townsend suggested publicly announcing airport interrogations 
of young men suspected of going to Iraq. She noted that the 
fear of getting caught itself might stem the flow of foreign 
fighters. Saleh agreed and said the ROYG will try to do 
more. (Note: Yemeni security services currently try to 
scrutinize young male Yemeni travelers, particularly those 
traveling to Damascus, as a means to identify foreign 
fighters, and sometimes deny them travel. End Note) 

Letters Exchanged 
- - - - - - - - - - 

18.(C) Townsend delivered a letter from President Bush to 
President Saleh. The letter was read by both Saleh and 
Foreign Minister al-Qirbi. Saleh responded to it by 

emphasizing Yemen's willingness to "cooperate with everything 
that is included in President Bush's letter." With this, he 
insisted the United States continue to support Yemen, both 
financially and politically, and "stand in the way of those 
against us." Saleh presented Townsend with a letter for 
President Bush and a report on Yemen's efforts to combat 
terrorism. 

Comment 
- - - - - 

19.(S) Overall, this meeting was more constructive than some 
observers would have expected. Given Saleh's colorful 
character and knack for theatrics, the inclusion of a weapons 
trafficker during his lunch with Townsend was not a complete 
surprise. Saleh's action was seen by some as a veiled threat 
to Mana'a, but was clearly also a message to the USG that in 
his country he will do as he pleases. Like other leaders in 
the region, Saleh is loathe to be perceived as subservient to 
US or Western interests. His use of the dual threats of 
terrorism and instability when referring to internal conflict 
is also not new. Saleh consistently uses this tactic when 
attempting to garner USG support. Saleh's allowing USG 
interrogation of al-Badawi is positive. The fact that Saleh 
released this convicted terrorist, despite USG objections, 
however, is cause for concern. Saleh's acceptance of 
Townsend's proposal of assistance in drafting the CT and cash 
courier law and his commitment to joint action to combat 
terrorism outside Yemen are welcome developments, as is his 
willingness to cooperate to stem the flow of Yemeni fighters 
to Iraq, even if his acceptance of these ideas is nonchalant. 
Post will continue to work with the ROYG to ensure these 
commitments are not forgotten. 

20.(U) Minimize considered for Baghdad. 
SECHE