January 20, 2010 / 9:43 AM / 10 years ago

U.N. Security Council sanctions al Qaeda's Yemen wing

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on Tuesday added al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing and two of its leaders to a U.N. blacklist, which U.S. envoy Susan Rice said would help efforts to weaken the group.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its two leaders, Nasser al-Wahayshi and Qasim al-Raymi, who were among 23 militants who escaped from a Sanaa jail in 2006, now face mandatory global asset-freezes and travel bans, she said.

“Today’s actions strengthen international efforts to degrade the capabilities of AQAP,” said Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The Security Council committee’s move followed a U.S. Department of Treasury decision to subject the group and its two leaders to U.S. sanctions.

AQAP, which claimed responsibility for a failed December 25 attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner, emerged a year ago after a merger of al Qaeda’s wings in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Wahayshi was once Osama bin Laden’s secretary.

The group espouses a militant Sunni Islamist ideology that makes violent jihad an obligation for all Muslims. It has threatened attacks on Westerners to cleanse the Arabian peninsula of “infidels” and seeks the fall of the U.S.-allied royal family in oil superpower Saudi Arabia.

The group also wants to weaken or destroy Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government to create safe havens in Yemen from which to launch attacks anywhere from Saudi Arabia to the United States.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Cynthia Osterman.

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