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Kuwait identifies terror cell in attacks on Americans

Friday, January 24, 2003

Kuwaiti security sources said a cell linked to Al Qaida was responsible for Tuesday's shooting attack on a vehicle carrying U.S. Defense Department contractors. One American was killed and another was seriously injured.

More than a dozen suspects are in custody, the sources said, with one of them linked directly to the shooting. The security sources said they are believed to be part of a larger cell that has targeted U.S. nationals, both soldiers and civilians, in Kuwait.

"At this point, we believe they are linked to Al Qaida," a security source said. "But there is suspicion that the cell was also working for Iraq."

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The sources said Al Qaida agents have met with senior Iraqi officials, including senior members of the Iraqi Revolutionary Council to coordinate efforts against the United States. They identified one Al Qaida operative as Abu Yamin Mazaheri, a leader of the Al Qaida-sponsored Ansar Islam.

On Thursday, Kuwait's Interior Ministry identified the chief suspect in the attack on the Americans as Sami Al Mutairi, 25, a Kuwaiti national who returned from Afghanistan last year. After the shooting, Al Mutairi fled to Saudi Arabia where he was captured and returned to the sheikdom.

"We have determined that he operated alone," a Kuwaiti security source said. "But we believe he had links with others."

Kuwaiti newspapers on Friday quoted Al Mutairi as telling investigators: "This operation was a gift to Sheik Osama Bin Laden and I carried this out for the lofty sheik." Al Mutairi was reported to have concealed his AK-47 assault rifle after Tuesday's attack and then, in absence of a passport, tried to sneak across the Saudi border.

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