- 2009, 26 / 27 Jan - Security vetting ?

On the eve of my swearing allegiance to the British crown I contacted MI-5 by telephone to report my vague suspicions of having unwittingly met al Qaeda in Yemen in 1997

I spoke uninterrupted for a few minutes until I said the name of the Yemeni company I visited in 1997. the moment I said “YemPak” the line clicked and a different voice simply said Carry on”. I did not report any specific concerns about YemPak at that time as my only suspicion had been the clandestine meeting I was taken to on the 26th September 1997. 

In 2009 I described to SO15 the location of that meeting as being a five-minute drive through fields after turning right off the main road fifteen minutes north of Taiz. I told SO15 that it was in a secluded gully with a few buildings and an orchard.

On the 22 November 2017 I found that meeting location on google earth; it is exactly where I had described it as being in 2009 and just one-mile from a town called “al Qaeda” in Ibb governorate, Yemen. I immediately pass this information to SO15. 

A link to a google map of al Qa’idah town (pronounced al Qaeda) is below, and below that a labelled screen-shot from google earth shows al Qaeda town at the top of the image:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Al+Qa'idah,+Yemen/@13.7538891,44.0966478,8899m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x161c692afdf672bb:0x800766c2f9603088!2sTaizz,+Yemen!3b1!8m2!3d13.5775886!4d44.0177989!3m4!1s0x161cf574d7b2f985:0x73b0ac52b40d2111!8m2!3d13.7572266!4d44.1387749

al qa'idah airport HSA Yempak map copy

al Qaeda town Ibb, Yemen 
It is on the border of two provinces Ibb and Taiz

My principle suspicion when I called the counter terrorism police in 2009 was that the men I had met at this meeting clandestine meeting (but had not spoken to) were dressed in ‘practical clothing’. They llooking like the photos of 1980’s Mujahideen I had seen. The Metropolitan police call handler made no comment nor asked any questions. 

I went on to speculate that this was an al Qaeda group I had been taken to meet and that one of the men there might even have been Osama bin Laden, or one of his commanders. 

I have never been contacted by British security services regarding my claims of having met senior al Qaeda members in Yemen. My military service from 2009 to 2013 included being a Colonel’s driver and serving with the British army in Afghanistan in 2012. My tour overlapped with Captain Wales (Prince Harry) serving as an attack helicopter pilot and I was within a few metres of him on numberous occasions, most often in the dining hall and always armed with my SA80 assault rifle.

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© Anthony C Heaford 2016