Convicted terrorists Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Zayed returned to Yemen on August 11, receiving "heroes' welcomes," according to the local press.
Yemen's Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), a coalition of the Islamist Islah party with several socialist parties, issued a statement welcoming the release of Al-Moayad and Zayed.
The Supreme Council of the JMP called the release a "good initiative by the new American Administration, " as opposed to "what the previous administration had done, behaving arbitrarily against a number of innocent men, at their head Sheikh Muhammad al-Moayad and Zayed, which deepened the hatred between the Arab and Muslim peoples and the American people." The Supreme Council called on the US Administration to "quickly release all prisoners in Guantanamo including Yemeni prisoners."
In March 2005 Al-Moayad and Zayed were convicted on charges of conspiring to support al Qaeda and Hamas. But the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated those verdicts and ordered a new trial. Earlier this month, in separate plea agreements, the two men pleaded guilty only to conspiring to provide material support to Hamas. In exchange, a judge sentenced them to time served and ordered them to be released and deported to Yemen.
Prosecutors say they agreed to the terms because Al-Moayad is ill. Critics of the move say the Justice Department gave too much. In a letter to a federal judge describing the plea agreements, prosecutors said the investigation started when an informant told the FBI that "Al-Moayad, a prominent cleric in Yemen, had recruited Mujahidin for the Al Qaeda-led armed conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan. This information was later corroborated by, among other things, an Al Qaeda training camp form found in Afghanistan in late 2001 reflecting that Al-Moayad was the "sponsor" of one of the trainees, and pocket litter found in the possession of Mujahidin who had fought in Bosnia reflecting their association with Al-Moayad." [Emphasis added]
Read the Investigative Project on Terrorism's translation of a Yemeni press article on the JMP statement here.