U.S.-trained Saudi forces kill six in latest raid on Al Qaida

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia has intensified its offensive against Al Qaida.

On Monday, Saudi forces staged two raids of suspected Al Qaida strongholds in the northern province of Qassim. At least six Al Qaida suspects and two Saudi officers were killed and nine others were injured.

Saudi forces were said to have been trained and directed by the United States. A unit of Northrop Grumman has been training Saudi National Guards, who are said to have been participating in the offensive.

The first raid was conducted by the Special Emergency Forces on a farm in Gadhi. Officials said Saudi forces came under a hail of automatic fire and grenades and casualties were reported, Middle East Newsline reported.

Hours later, Saudi forces stormed another suspected Al Qaida stronghold in Qassim. Officials said the Saudi unit came under automatic fire.

Saudi officials said security forces and intelligence agencies have focused the battle against Al Qaida in the northern portion of the kingdom.

They said many of the Al Qaida insurgents have been moving from Iraq into the kingdom over the last year.

[On Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal was expected to meet President George Bush in Washington. U.S. officials said Saud arrived in the United States in an effort to bolster relations with Washington in the wake of a heavily-censored congressional report said to have accused Riyad of having been involved in the Al Qaida attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.]

The kingdom has captured about 250 suspected Al Qaida insurgents over the past month. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz said most of the detainees had received training in Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan.

But officials said some of those killed or captured in the raids on Monday included 10 Al Qaida fugitives being sought since May. They said the kingdom has already captured nine of the Al Qaida members, deemed as the leading insurgents of the Al Qaida network in Saudi Arabia.

"The Saudi security services are in the process of identifying [the suspected insurgents]," Nayef said. "But they are Saudis and they are connected to Al Qaida."

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