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Yemen’s president sacks former National Security Bureau chief

Ammar Saleh, the nephew of former leader Ali Abduallah Saleh was dismissed the same day an informant alleged he helped al-Qaeda
A supporter of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh kisses a portrait of him during a rally to protest threatened UN sanctions on 7 November 2014 in Sanaa (AFP)

Yemeni president Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi sacked Brigadier Ammar Saleh from his role as a military attaché in Ethiopia on Thursday. 

The dismissal by presidential decree came on the same day that a former al-Qaeda foot soldier turned informant revealed to al-Jazeera’s Investigative Unit that Saleh, the nephew of former ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, had a direct role to play in the 2008 attack on the US embassy in Sanaa in which 19 people were killed. Hadi, who is currently in exile in Saudi Arabia, did not state why Saleh has been asked to step down.  

According to al-Jazeera The informant, Hani Muhammad Mujahid, worked for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998, before the group moved to operate in the tribal areas of Pakistan. There, Mujahid was captured and sent to prison in Yemen. Two years later, he became an informant for Yemen’s security forces while simultaneously working for al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP.)

Brigadier Saleh was the deputy director of the National Security Bureau at the time of the attack on the US embassy. Mujahid alleges that Saleh had handed him the funds for the attack, and enjoyed a close relationship with AQAP’s military commander, Qasim al-Raymi. The informant also said that he warned the Yemeni security forces three times of the attack, three months, a week and then three days prior.

Mujahid, who described himself as “the al-Qaeda infiltrator for the security agencies”, said his role was more along the lines of an intermediary between the Yemeni security forces and al-Qaeda, and was responsible for arranging for funds and ammunition for terror attacks. In his words, “Ali Abdullah Saleh turned al-Qaeda into an organised criminal gang.”

As previously reported by Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye, Mujahid’s testimony, which was aired on al-Jazeera on Thursday, “holds the potential to deeply embarrass the United States, which placed its trust in [Ali Abdullah] Saleh” in the counter-terrorism war against al-Qaeda.