Riyadh : Saudi Royal Escapes Al-Qaida Attack

Riyadh, Aug 29 (Agencies): A suicide bomber detonated explosives hidden inside his mobile phone on Friday in an attempt to assassinate the head of Saudi Arabia’s antiterrorism efforts, the official news agency reported from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, the deputy interior minister who is widely credited with orchestrating a harsh crackdown against al-Qaida militants in the kingdom, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. He was later shown on Saudi television meeting with the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah.

Nayef is the son of the interior minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz , who is third in line to the Saudi throne. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, although al-Qaida was certain to be suspected.

Nayef told King Abdullah on Friday that the attacker was a wanted militant who had indicated he was going to turn himself in.

“I did not want him to be searched, but he surprised me by blowing himself up”, said Prince Mohammed, who was shown on state television with a bandage around two of his fingers on his left hand. “However, this will only increase my determination” to fight terrorism in the kingdom, he said.

The attack on Friday was the first known assassination attempt against a senior member of the royal family since 1975, when King Faisal was shot and killed by a nephew, Prince Faisal bin Musaed. 

Attack has increased my resolve to fight terror: Prince Muhammad

Arab News 

JEDDAH: Assistant Interior Minister for Security Affairs Prince Muhammad bin Naif, who escaped an assassination attempt on Thursday night, said on Friday he was more determined than ever to pursue the Kingdom's campaign against terrorism. He is largely credited with the Kingdom’s aggressive anti-terrorism efforts.

The bombing was the first significant attack by militants in the Kingdom since 2006. Saudi Arabia has waged a fierce crackdown on Al-Qaeda militants in the country that led to the killing or capture of most of its leaders after a string of attacks that started in 2003.

The suicide bomber blew himself up while waiting in line to enter a gathering of well-wishers at the prince’s home in Jeddah, said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Saudi arm of the group, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s bombing attempt, according to a message posted on Internet forums and translated by SITE Intelligence Group.

Al-Turki said security measures would not be increased after the apparent breach, which occurred after the prince ordered guards not to search the militant, who insisted he was giving himself up. “The security will not be heightened more than it is at the moment. We have always been saying that we expect (such acts) and act as though they may happen at any moment. We know there are sleeper cells operating in the Kingdom and those who think the war on terror is over in the Kingdom are mistaken,” he said. The suicide bomber’s identity was not revealed, and Al-Turki said, “If we find that investigations will not be affected by revealing his identity, we will do so in time. The country’s security measures are at its highest-level, the way they have always been. Thursday's attack is an isolated incident.”

Al-Turki said, “The deviant people’s adoption of the new tactics in their attack testifies to the success of the Saudi security forces’ operations against them. Prince Muhammad’s statement clearly indicates that there will be no letup in countering the deviant ideology until it is rooted out no matter whatever be its cost and time required.”

Prince Muhammad, who is the son of Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif, told Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah early Friday when the king visited him in hospital shortly after the assassination attempt that the attacker was a wanted militant who had indicated he was going to turn himself in.

“I did not want him to be searched, but he surprised me by blowing himself up,” said Prince Muhammad, who was shown on state television with a bandage around two of his fingers on his left hand. “However, this will only increase my determination to fight terrorism in the Kingdom,” he said. Al-Turki said authorities were still investigating exactly how the attacker detonated his explosives while waiting to enter Prince Muhammad’s home.

Some analysts say more militant action is likely. “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is like a balloon. You squeeze it on one side and it bulges out on the other,” said one Gulf-based security analyst who declined to be named. “It’s a comeback by Al-Qaeda trying to find new foothold for itself in Saudi Arabia. We could see more operations of this kind.”

Though the morning after brought more clarity to the situation, the scene around King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah was confusing for well over two hours as rumors were rife of a terror attack in that vicinity. All roads leading to the hospital were closed and there was a heavy security presence.

Phone calls and SMS messages circulated claiming that there was an explosion in Jeddah. Some people said there was a terror strike, while some ruled out the possibility claiming that the visible heavy security screen was for a personality visiting the hospital. In the event, most of them were partially right with Al Arabiya TV channel providing the breaking news of the attempted attack on Prince Muhammad followed by King Abdullah’s visit to the hospital. Worry and relief were the dominating feelings of people, who could not believe that an attempt on Prince Muhammad’s life had been made. The enduring moment of the night was soon brought on the channel with King Abdullah praising Allah for the prince’s safety and inquiring after his health. This picture of the king’s concern and the prince’s confidence was repeatedly aired on the channel throughout the day.

Worry turned to relief when viewers saw Prince Muhammad safe and unharmed. People were surprised to see a confident and smiling prince despite an attempt on his life a few hours back.


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