One of the "Lackawanna Six" may have been among Yemeni prison escapees

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

FBI Photo of Jaber Elbaneh.

The FBI and relatives of Jaber Elbaneh, 38, a member of the Lackawanna Six and former resident of Lackawanna, New York, are trying to find out if he is one of the 23 members of Al-Qaeda who escaped from a Yemeni prison on Friday, February 3, 2006.

The Yemeni Times reported Tuesday that one of the men that had escaped was Gaber Al-Bana'a which authorities say could be Elbaneh. The Middle Eastern Media Outlets have spelled his name many different ways, and the Buffalo FBI office is investigating the latest accounts and reports that refer to Elbaneh. "We're making inquiries and trying to get some answers," said FBI spokesman Paul M. Moskal. Elbaneh has a US$5 million dollar bounty on his head.

A U.S. official said, "Jaber Elbaneh was a member of the cell and was among those who escaped from prison in Yemen. Elbaneh never returned to the US after his training in Afghanistan. The other six of the Lackawanna cell were arrested when they returned to the U.S.."

The Lackawanna Six are a group of American-born men of Yemeni descent, arrested in Lakawanna New York, who pleaded guilty after admitting they attended an al-Qaida training camp. They had traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 and were arrested in Lackawanna, near Buffalo, in 2002. Their sentences range from seven to ten years. The members of the cell also included Mukhtar Al-Bakri, Sahim Alwan, Faysal Galab, Shafal Mosed, Yaseinn Taher, Yahya Goba and Jaber Elbaneh, who was in a Yemeni prison.