Yemen repatriates 8 Saudi al-Qaeda suspects
Fighters of Islamic State - REUTERS/Yaser al-Khodor

RIYADH:  Yemen has repatriated eight Saudis wanted for suspected links to al-Qaeda, the kingdom’s interior ministry announced on Thursday, in the second handover of its kind since February.

“As part of joint efforts between security services in the two countries, the kingdom has received eight Saudis wanted “for joining Al-Qaeda in Yemen,” a ministry spokesman said, quoted by official news agency SPA.

Two of them had already been jailed and later released from prison in Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s oil-rich neighbor, he said.

Sanaa has also handed over the wife of a detained Saudi Al-Qaeda suspect who was “lured by members of the terrorist network in Yemen to illegally leave the kingdom without the knowledge of her family and husband,” he added.

Riyadh is hunting for dozens of its citizens who have joined Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen.

In February, Yemeni authorities handed over to the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom a group of 29 wanted Saudis.

Former prisoners at the US Guantanamo prison in Cuba who had been returned to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation in December 2006 underwent a reform program but later escaped to Yemen.

The Saudi and Yemeni branches of Al-Qaeda merged in January 2009 to form AQAP, posing a serious threat to Western interests across the region.

After a wave of deadly Al-Qaeda attacks in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006, Saudi authorities launched a crackdown on the local branch of the group founded by the late Osama bin Laden, himself Saudi-born.

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