SAN`A, Yemen – Yemen is holding 104 people suspected of belonging to the Al Qaeda terror network or of involvement in terrorist activities, a Yemeni lawmaker said Sunday.
Sultan al-Atwani said 15 of the suspects were detained in connection with the bombing in 2000 of the USS Cole while the rest were rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network has been blamed for both attacks.
Al-Atwani is a member of a parliament committee looking into the situation of Yemeni terror suspects imprisoned in the country or at the U.S. Guantanamo base in Cuba.
The detainees' families accuse U.S. and Yemeni authorities of holding the men without charges and denying them visitors and access to their lawyers.
Al-Atwani said the parliamentary committee met Sunday with members of Yemen's intelligence agency, which is holding the men.
"We insisted that they either release the detainees or put them on trial in accordance with the law," said al-Atwani.
He said the intelligence agency is being subjected to intense American pressure to continue the detentions and delay prosecutions.
Sixty-nine Yemenis are among 598 detainees from 43 countries held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In Yemen, the government has said it has arrested and interrogated about 100 men suspected of being linked to Al Qaeda.
Yemen, bin Laden's ancestral homeland, long has been a fertile Al Qaeda recruiting ground and has vast tribal areas beyond government control where Al Qaeda members are believed to be hiding.
It also was the scene of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, an American destroyer attacked while refueling in Aden. Seventeen U.S. sailors died in the attack.
After the Sept. 11 attacks on America,Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh committed his country to cooperate in the global war on terrorism.