'Most Wanted' Terror Suspect Jailed in Yemen

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A Yemeni-American on the FBI's Most Wanted list of terror suspects was jailed in Yemen after an appeals court upheld his 10-year prison sentence, officials said Monday.

Washington had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Jaber Elbaneh's arrest, but Yemeni law forbid his extradition even after police arrested him in 2004.

Elbaneh, who has been accused of belonging to Al Qaeda, has been convicted of plots to attack oil installations in Yemen and of involvement in a 2002 attack on the French tanker Limburg off Yemen's coast that killed one person.

Yemeni authorities allowed Elbaneh to go free during an appeals process — even after he was convicted, jailed, escaped from prison and turned himself in.

The United States put pressure on Yemen to imprison Elbaneh, and FBI chief Robert Mueller raised the issue in meetings last month with Yemeni leaders in San'a, a security official said Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

However, the official said Yemen continues to refuse Washington's request that it hand over Elbaneh and Jamal al-Badawi, the Al Qaeda mastermind of the USS Cole bombing in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.

On Sunday, Elbaneh was sent to a maximum-security prison in the capital San'a, an official from the state prosecutor's office said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

It was the same facility Elbaneh and 22 other convicts escaped from in February 2006 by digging a tunnel to a nearby mosque.

In May 2003, U.S. prosecutors charged Elbaneh in absentia with conspiring with a group known as the Buffalo, N.Y. area's "Lackawanna Six" to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

Yemeni authorities arrested him in 2004, but he escaped from prison less than two years later. Last year, a Yemeni court charged Elbaneh in absentia for plotting to attack oil installments in the country. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Elbaneh turned himself into Yemeni authorities in December, but never went back to jail.

Yemen is Usama bin Laden's ancestral homeland and has an active Al Qaeda presence despite government efforts to destroy the network.