That’s the good news. The bad news is, Jaber Elbaneh has a habit of getting away — once even tunneling out of prison to a mosque. More recently, the Yemeni government released him of its own accord. Add to that Yemen’s refusal to extradite Elbaneh when it has had him in custody, and this chapter of the case certainly bears watching for indications of any sincerity in Yemen for a departure from its reputation as a “bus station” for jihadists.
“Yemen holds Lackawanna 6 figure,” by Dan Herbeck for the Buffalo News, January 20 (thanks to Sr. Soph):
Jaber A. Elbaneh, who allegedly helped recruit the Lackawanna Six and is described by the FBI as one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, is once again in custody in his home country of Yemen, The Buffalo News learned Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors and FBI agents want him returned to Buffalo to face criminal charges in the Lackawanna Six case that have been pending against him since 2002. They charge that he was part of the group of Lackawanna men who trained at an al-Qaida terrorist camp in Afghanistan.
But because Yemen has no extradition agreement with the United States, authorities said that there is no way of knowing whether Elbaneh, 43, will ever return to face the charges.
Yemeni authorities have had Elbaneh in custody several times in the past seven years, but Yemen’s government has refused requests from the U.S. government to extradite him.
“We are aware that he is in custody in Yemen and that he has asked for an attorney to represent him on the charges we filed against him,” U.S. Attorney Kathleen M. Mehltretter said Wednesday afternoon.
“We do want to prosecute him [in Buffalo], but as you know, there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Yemen.”
Mehltretter and other law enforcement officials declined to discuss how, when or why Elbaneh recently landed in the custody of Yemeni officials. A spokesman at Yemen’s embassy in Washington did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages from The News.
A Buffalo attorney, James W. Grable Jr., confirmed that he has been assigned by U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny to represent Elbaneh.
“I really can’t tell you anything else because I haven’t had a chance yet to talk with [Elbaneh] or his family,” Grable said.
Lackawanna friends and family members of Elbaneh have repeatedly called the Lackawanna High School alumnus a law-abiding, devout Muslim who never would become involved in terrorism….
How about jihad?