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Muslim Extremist Sentenced to Death for Killing American Missionaries in Yemen - 2003-05-10

A court in Yemen on Saturday sentenced a Muslim extremist to death for killing three U.S. missionaries in December.

Abed Abdul Razak Kamel received the death penalty for shooting the three missionaries at a Southern Baptist missionary hospital in the town of Jibla, 200 kilometers south of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

He was also convicted of injuring a fourth missionary in the shooting rampage, and pleaded not guilty. His lawyer says he plans to appeal the verdict on grounds that it violates Islamic law.

During the trial, Kamel said he planned the attack with another suspected Muslim extremist. Kamel himself is also believed to have ties with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

He said he opened fire on hospital workers on December 30 because he had a "duty" to seek "revenge" against the missionaries for attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. As in many other Muslim countries, such proselytizing is against the law in Yemen. The Associated Press reported that Jibla residents say the Americans never discussed religion, only provided vital medical services.

The news agency reported that security officials said audio tapes of Osama bin Laden had been found in Kamel's home. Yemen is the ancestral home of the al-Qaida leader.

The shootings of the missionaries marked the first major anti-American attack in Yemen since the October 2000 assault on the USS Cole in the southern port of Aden that killed 17 American sailors.