When Yemen released the al-Qaeda terrorist convicted of the 2000 bombing of the Cole, Jamal al-Badawi, they gambled their US aid on a controversial terrorist-work-release plan. Yemen let al-Badawi out of prison, based on his word that he would lead Yemeni officials to five other al-Qaeda members who had escaped.
Though Badawi was soon returned to prison in order to keep US aid, the cat was out of the bag. Yemen, a haven for recruiting Islamic militants for the last 20 years, makes deals with terrorists, and the US doesn't like it.
Here's the deal Yemen gives terrorists, according to the New York Times:
Yemeni officials say they have had considerable success co-opting jihadists like Mr. Badawi, often by releasing them from prison and helping them with money, schooling or jobs. They are required to sign a pledge not to carry out any attacks on Yemeni soil.
They say that former jihadists are crack at helping capture the younger, fiercer, al-Qaeda militants, helping convince escapees to surrender. But this work-furlough program comes with a price. To find out, please read more.
Murad Abdul Wahed Zafir, a political analyst at the National Democratic Institute in Sana says, “Yemen is like a bus station—we stop some terrorists, and we send others on to fight elsewhere. We appease our partners in the West, but we are not really helping."
Does it make sense to use terrorists to fight terror? Can we trust them? Is it a brilliant move to use those who know terrorists best?
But it's not all free rides for terrorists. Yemen does have a counter-terrorism unit, including an all-female division. The Times also has a striking slide show of these tough women in action. Check it out here.