Yemeni Man Admits Killing Three Americans
JIBLA, Yemen (AP) _ A Yemeni man suspected of ties to al-Qaida testified Sunday that he killed three Americans at a Baptist missionary hospital because he believed they were trying to convert Muslims.
Abed Abdul Razak Kamel told a court he planned the Dec. 30 attack on the Southern Baptist hospital for 18 months.
``I acted out of a religious duty ... and in revenge from those who converted Muslims from their religion and made them unbelievers,″ Kamel, 30, said at the opening of his trial under tight security in this southern Yemeni city.
The prosecutor asked for the death penalty. A second hearing was set for April 30.
Kamel said he coordinated the attack with Ali al-Jarallah, another suspected Muslim extremist accused of shooting dead a Yemeni leftist politician two days before the hospital attack.
Al-Jarallah’s trial opened Sunday in San’a, the capital, 125 miles north. Al-Jarallah is a member of Yemen’s fundamentalist Islamic Reform Party.
Speaking calmly, Kamel said he and al-Jarallah agreed al-Jarallah would target secularist Yemenis while he would target Christians.
Neither Kamel nor the prosecutor mentioned al-Qaida, blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks, or its chief, Osama bin Laden, on Sunday. The Saudi-born bin Laden has family ties to Yemen and is believed to have strong support here.
Yemeni security officials have said that Kamel may belong to a terrorist cell linked to al-Qaida. Audiotapes of bin Laden were found at Kamel’s house.
Kamel said he walked into the hospital building with a semiautomatic rifle hidden under his clothes and opened fire on a staff meeting, firing two shots at each of his targets.
The three Americans killed were hospital director William E. Koehn, 60, of Kansas; purchasing agent Kathleen A. Gariety, 53, of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.; and Dr. Martha C. Myers, 57, of Montgomery, Alabama. A fourth missionary, pharmacist Donald W. Caswell, 49, of Levelland, Texas, was wounded.
Kamel testified he traveled to Jibla in July 2001 and began scouting his target _ visiting the hospital often and asking questions about its activities.
``I found out that they were truly converting Muslims into Christians,″ Kamel told the court.
Jibla residents, though, have said the Americans at the hospital never discussed religion. Yemeni law prohibits non-Muslims from proselytizing in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.