US Captures 'Al Qaeda', and 'July 7 Attack Leader' In Iraq
If true, the Americans and the Saudis can claim two huge successes today in fighting the 'War on Terror', striking hard at core Al Qaeda jihadists.
The Saudis are claiming they have broken up seven terror rings, detaining 172 suspects, and seizing hundreds of weapons, boxes of explosives and more than $5 million in cash.
But Saudi officials didn't tell local media that there were terrorist plots to fly airliners into oil refineries, as were the headlines in the Western media. Some UK media claim that a Saudi official statement confirmed there were plots to fly hijacked airliners into oil installations, but such claims didn't reach most Gulf and Arab media.
Such claims were mostly made by 'terror experts' interviewed on CNN and Fox News. Nor did the arrests take place on the same day, or even in the same week. The Saudis haven't revealed over what period of time the raids and arrests were made, only that the arrests took place "at various and successive times".
Not only have the Saudis scored extremely positive worldwide media coverage for the breaking up of the terror rings and the arrests, that they chose to announce the arrests all at once, while unveiling the arms, explosives and cash caches all but guaranteed the news would impact where it counts the most : on the price of the Saudis main export, oil.
As news of the terror arrests hit the headlines, the price of a barrel of oil quickly rose by more than 2%. For the Saudis this meant a net gain of hundreds of millions of dollars, at a time when oil prices were slowly falling.
From Gulf Daily News :
The detainees were planning to carry out suicide attacks against "public figures, oil facilities, refineries ... and military zones", the Interior Ministry said yesterday.
"They had reached an advance stage of readiness and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks," spokesman Brigadier Mansour Al Turki said.
Brig Al Turki would said the arrests occurred "at various and successive times".
The militants were detained in separate waves, he said, with one group of arrested confessing and subsequently leading security officials to the next group, as well as weapons' caches.
The ministry did not say the militants would fly aircraft into oil refineries, as 9/11 hijackers flew planes into buildings in New York and Washington, but it said some detainees had been "sent to other countries to study flying in preparation for using them to carry out terrorist attacks inside the kingdom".
The militants also planned to storm prisons to free the inmates.
British and American authorities, meanwhile, appear to be confused and surprised by the scale of the arrests and the plots uncovered :
The unprecedented scale of the arrests seemed to undermine official Saudi claims that jihadi terrorism had been all but eradicated by effective intelligence and security, a powerful publicity campaign and inducements to terrorists to repent. Some believed the announcement was intended to signal that vigilant security forces were safeguarding the world's largest oil producer and exporter.
The Saudi state TV channel al-Akhbariya broadcast footage of weapons discovered buried in the desert. These included AK-47 and other rifles, plastic explosives, magazines, and handguns wrapped in plastic sheeting. It showed investigators smashing tiled floors with hammers to uncover pipes containing weapons. In one scene, an official upends a pipe and bullets and packets of explosives spill out.
Prince Nayef, the powerful Saudi interior minister, signalled last week that an important security announcement was imminent. But western diplomats said yesterday they were puzzled by some of the details that had been released.
The large number suggested that some of those arrested were likely to have been neighbours, acquaintances and contacts of a much smaller number of militants. It also seemed likely the seven cells had been rounded up separately but announced simultaneously to make a greater public impact.
According to official figures, about 144 foreigners and Saudis, including security personnel, and 120 militants have died in attacks and clashes with police since May 2003, when al-Qaida suicide bombers hit western housing compounds in Riyadh.
Meanwhile, the Americans are pumping the arrest of one Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, once a general in Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard. They claim he was detained as he tried to cross into Iraq from Iran. It's not a new arrest. He was detained by the CIA last year and was transferred a few days ago to Guantanamo Bay.
What's new is what the Americans are claiming al-Iraqi is responsible for :
A far more interesting report comes from journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad :
The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the Americans.
Abd al-Hadi, 45, was regarded as one of al-Qaeda’s most experienced, most intelligent and most ruthless commanders. Senior counter-terrorism sources told The Times that he was the man who, in 2003, identified Britain as the key battleground for exporting al-Qaeda’s holy war to Europe.
Abd al-Hadi recognised the potential for turning young Muslim radicals from Britain who wanted to become mujahidin in Afghanistan or Iraq into terrorists who could carry out attacks in their home country. He realised that their knowledge of Britain, possession of British passports and natural command of English made them ideal recruits. After al-Qaeda restructured its operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas he sought out young Britons for instruction at training camps. In late 2004 Abd al-Hadi met Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, from Leeds, at a militant camp in Pakistan and, in the words of a senior investigator, “retasked them” to become suicide bombers.
They were sent back to Britain where they led the terrorist cell that carried out the 7/7 bombings, killing 52 Tube and bus passengers.
Pakistani intelligence sources said that Abd al-Hadi was also in contact with Rachid Rauf, a Birmingham man now in prison in Pakistan and alleged to be a key figure in last summer’s alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in mid-flight.
Sources said last night that few figures had been more important at the centre of the revived al-Qaeda. Abd al-Hadi is credited with forming its alliance with the insurgency in Iraq.
US officials said he was associated with leaders of other extremist groups allied with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Taleban.
Abd al-Hadi Al-Iraqi was initially the treasurer of Al-Qaeda and was based in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. Hadi used to supply money to Al-Qaeda operatives for international operations. In 2003, on the instructions of network number two Ayman Al-Zawahiri, he was part of an operational plan to kill General Pervez Musharraf but his role was mainly supplying money to the operatives involved in the plot.
Well-placed sources in Al-Qaeda had told this correspondent many months ago about the migration of Abd al-Hadi Al-Iraqi from Afghanistan to Iraq. Therefore it seems difficult that he would be arrested recently while crossing into the border of Iraq, as his presence in Iraq has already been confirmed.
Abd-al-Hadi compiled a detailed account in a book which reflects al-Qaeda's tactical ideas and deals with chemical weapons and explosives and their application, such as planting them on bridges and at strategic installations to get optimum results. In the circle of al-Qaeda the book is referred to as Encyclopedia of Jehad.
It is intended to equip international operations with clear tactical ideas on how upcoming battles should be fought. The encyclopedia is available in jihadi circles in book form as well as on compact disc. It was written in Arabic and translated into Pashto, Urdu and English.
Abd al Hadi moved out of Waziristan after some major divergences emerged between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban over tactical issues, in particular the Pakistan Taliban’s non-aggression pact with the Pakistan authorites.
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