Mustafa Abdulkader Aabed al-Ansari (Arabic: مصطفى عبدالقادر عابد الأنصاري, Muṣṭafa ‘Abd al-Qader ‘Abed al-Ānṣarī) (born in Saudi Arabia and identified as a Saudi citizen) became wanted in 2002, by the United States Department of Justice's FBI, which was then seeking information about his identity and whereabouts. He was identified as a known associate of the Yemen cell leader, Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei. He is also the son-in-law of Yemeni al Qaeda operative Ahmad Mohammad Ali al-Hada. In early 2002, he had been named in a suspected Yemen plot, for which he became listed on the FBI's third major "wanted" list, now known as the FBI Seeking Information - War on Terrorism list.
USS Cole bombing
On October 12, 2000, one year prior to 9/11, Yemen became an early theater in the War on Terrorism, when the 2000 USS Cole bombing killed 17 American sailors and wounded 40 off the port coast of Aden, Yemen. In the aftermath, the government of Yemen rounded up numerous suspected terrorists, many of whom were identified as members of al-Qaeda.
February 12, 2002 terror alert
In early 2002, according to an FBI report, as a result of US military operations in Afghanistan and of on-going interviews of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, information became available on February 11, 2002 regarding threats to US interests which indicated that a planned attack may have been about to occur in the United States or against US interests in the country of Yemen on or around the next day, February 12, 2002.
In response, on February 11, 2002, Mustafa Abdulkader Aabed al-Ansari became one of 17 suspected terrorists added by the FBI to the "Seeking Information" list. The early version of that list was then known as the "Most Wanted Terrorists Seeking Information" list. Years later, the FBI removed his profile from the main page of that list.
On February 14, 2002, several days after the FBI alert, six of the names were removed, and the FBI re-published the list as only eleven names and photos, because it was discovered that confusion over aliases had failed to reveal initially that the removed six wanted terrorists were already in prison in Yemen.
The six names identified in the Yemen plot on February 11, 2002, but who were removed from the list on February 14, 2002 as already in Yemen custody were: Issam Ahmad Dibwan al-Makhlafi, Ahmad al-Akhader Nasser Albidani, Bashir Ali Nasser al-Sharari, Abdulaziz Muhammad Saleh bin Otash, Shuhour Abdullah Mukbil al-Sabri and Riyadh Shikawi.
Mustafa Abdulkader Aabed al-Ansari remained listed among the twelve names still being sought on February 14, 2002. The others who also remained were: Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei, Omar Ahmad Omar al-Hubishi, Ammar Abadah Nasser al-Wa'eli, Alyan Muhammad Ali al-Wa'eli, Bassam Abdullah bin Bushar al-Nahdi, Samir Abduh Sa'id al-Maktawi, Abdulrab Muhammad Muhammad Ali al-Sayfi, Abu Nasr al-Tunisi, Abu Mu'az al-Jeddawi and Amin Saad Muhammad al-Zumari.
2002 Yemen attacks and plots
Whether foiled, aborted, or merely incorrect specific intelligence, the February 12, 2002 attack never occurred. However, other attacks and plots in Yemen soon followed.
In April 2002, there was the detonation of explosives at a civil aviation authority building in Yemen.
There was also an unsuccessful plot that year to kill the United States Ambassador in Yemen.
In October 2002, two suicide bombers rammed an explosive-laden boat into the Limburg, a French oil tanker, killing a Bulgarian crew member and spilling 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden. This operation was very similar to the attack on the American destroyer USS Cole two years earlier. Saudi born Abdulraheem al-Nashiri, prime suspect of the USS Cole bombing (currently in the US custody), paid $40,000 to fund the Limburg attack. With that money, the former Al Qaida leader Abu Ali al-Harithi bought the explosives and transported them from his house in Shabwa to Mukalla in Hadramut. Later in 2002, Al-Harithi was killed by the CIA with a missile fired from a Predator drone.
And then after the Limburg attack, there was an attack on a helicopter carrying Hunt Oil Co. employees in Yemen in November 2002.
By February 2, 2003, the FBI rearranged its entire wanted lists on its web site, into the current configuration. Al-Ansari was one of the remaining eleven Yemen plot suspects archived to a linked page titled, "February 2002, Seeking Information Alert". Around this time the FBI also changed the name of the list, to the FBI "Seeking Information - War on Terrorism", to distinguish it from its other wanted list of "Seeking Information," which the FBI already uses for ordinary fugitives, those who are not terrorists.
Captures and trials
After many of the suspects in those plots and attacks were caught, trials began May 29, 2004 and centered on the October 2002 bombing of the Limburg.
Five of the militants—Ibraheem Mohammed al-Huwaidi, Aref Saleh Ali Mujali, Mohammed Abdullah al-Dailami, Abdulghani Ali Hussein Kaifan and Kasem Yahia al-Raimee—were sentenced to five years in prison. They were found guilty of plotting attacks against the US, French, UK, Cuban and German embassies, and plotting to assassinate the former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen. One of the 15 accused was sentenced to death for killing a Yemeni police officer.
Mass escape from Yemen
On February 3, 2006, 23 people, 12 of them al-Qaeda members, escaped from a Yemeni jail, according to a BBC report. They reportedly escaped by digging a tunnel.
The FBI added several new names to the "wanted" lists, in response to the Yemen escape of 2006. However, none of the 17 Yemen plot suspects from the 2002 terror alert appeared again among the new FBI names.
Four years after Mustafa Abdulkader Aabed al-Ansari's original 2002 listing on the "Seeking Information" terror alert list, the FBI continues to list him among the remaining eleven suspected terrorists. But they now only appear on the FBI web site's archived page for the February 2002 "Seeking Information Alert". As of 2006, all the individuals of the February 12, 2002 Yemen plot alert had since been removed from the FBI's current main wanted page, and are no longer included in the official count of suspects, for the "Seeking Information - War on Terrorism" list.
Al-Ansari was killed in Saudi Arabia on May 1, 2004.
- FBI Most Wanted Terrorists Seeking Information 2-11-02, (dead link)
- FBI Most Wanted Terrorists Seeking Information 2-14-02, revision by FBI removed 6 Yemen prisoners' names from the list (dead link)
- FBI Seeking Information - War on Terrorism at the Wayback Machine (archived February 2, 2003)
- Hunt on for Yemeni jailbreakers, BBC, February 4, 2006
- Recent Escapees From Yemen Prison Added to Most Wanted Terrorists and Seeking Information - War on Terrorism Lists, FBI national Press Release, February 23, 2006