On this date in 1999, Yemen executed (in its own inimitable style) terrorist Zein al-Abidine al-Mihdar, for orchestrating a kidnapping of western tourists.
The drama had unfolded in December of 1998, when a convoy of 16 (mostly British) foreign tourists spending the traditional Christmas in Yemen was seized by the Islamic terrorist group Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan.
The very next day, a massive Yemeni army raid busted up the kidnappers and freed the hostages — all, except for the four who were killed in the affray.
Tried for the kidnapping (a capital crime itself) and those resulting deaths — although some victims slated the army and its aggressive response for those lost souls — three men were condemned death.
“The only dialogue,” al-Mihdar told his judges, “should be with bullets.” And so for him, a bullet had the last word. (The other two condemned men drew commutations.)
Al-Mihdar’s followers promised revenge were he executed. Given that the Islamic Army of Aden claimed responsibility for the 2000 bombing of the American warship USS Cole while it refueled at Aden — Khalid Almihdhar, one of the 9/11 hijackers allegedly affiliated with the IAA, participated — it might well have done just that. (However, the IAA as a distinct terrorist entity petered out in the 2000s.)
By the by, the U.S. is basically at war in Yemen now. Better still: that tribal country is also a proving-grounds for brave new assertions of heretofore undiscovered American presidential prerogatives, like the right to assassinate other Americans.