September 27, 2009 / 4:29 PM / 10 years ago

Yemen's Qaeda wing seeks donations in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda’s Yemeni wing is targeting Saudi individuals to ask for donations to support its fight against the U.S.-allied government of Sanaa, Al Arabiya television reported Sunday.

Protesters hold up a poster of two Yemeni clerics who are in U.S. custody during a rally in Sanaa June 18, 2009. The rally was held to demand the release of Sheikh Muhammad al-Moayyad and his assistant Muhammad Zayed who are currently serving custodial sentences in the United States for alleged complicity with al-Qaeda. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The campaign comes at a time when Yemen, one of the poorest countries outside Africa, is battling Shi’ite rebels in the north and sporadic violence in the south where secessionist sentiment is running high.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is the largest Arab economy and the birthplace of Islam.

Arabiya aired a video showing a Saudi member of the group it identified as Saeed al-Shehri urging fellow Saudis to donate money to support al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.

“The bearer of this message is trusted by us,” the militant said after making his request. It was not immediately clear if any arrests were made or how the recording was acquired.

The broadcaster said the video, in which Shehri appeared to be speaking inside a vehicle with a Yemeni militant by his side, was found in the memory of a mobile telephone.

Twin suicide car bombings outside the U.S. embassy in Sanaa a year ago killed 16 people. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.

In 2008, Saudi Arabia arrested a group of people using a recording by al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, to help raise money from Saudi donors.

Four Yemenis carrying hand grenades, automatic weapons and ammunition. and guns were arrested near the U.S. embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Yemen’s Interior Ministry said earlier this month, but did not say when they were arrested.

The ministry said at the time that the four were residents of the town of Damaj in the northern province of Saada, where the government is battling a revolt by Shi’ite Muslims of the Zaydi sect.

International concern over Yemen has grown because of the risk that instability there could endanger neighbors including Saudi Arabia and complicate efforts to combat al Qaeda and piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

The United States has offered to help Yemen in its “fight against terrorism.” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a letter to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh earlier this month that the United States will “stand beside Yemen, its unity, security and stability.”

Reporting by Inal Ersan; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton

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