Saudi Arabia has encountered a new Al Qaida splinter group
said to have directed a series of bombing attacks against Western targets in
The Islamic group is called Al Muwahidoun and is led by Saudi insurgents
who fought with Al Qaida against the United States in the war in Afghanistan
in 2001. Islamic sources said the group recruited Saudi nationals who had
fled Afghanistan and returned to the kingdom over the last 18 months.
The three Al Muwahidoun leaders said in a communique that the Al Qaida
splinter group of 19 Saudi fugitives participated in the battle at Tora Tora
in Afghanistan in December 2001. U.S. Special Operations Forces attacked Al
Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden and his forces in a network of caves in the
Al Muwahidoun is led by three Saudi nationals intent on establishing a
group that would focus on Saudi Arabia, Middle East Newsline reported.
The Saudis were identified as Ali
Bin Khadir Al Khadir, Nasser Bin Hamad Al Fahd and Ahmed Bin Hamoud Al
Khaldi. On Tuesday, the three placed their names on a communique issued by a
new Islamic faction called Al Mujahidoun Al Jazeera, or the "Holy Warriors
of the [Arab] Peninsula."
Islamic sources said the Al Qaida attackers targeted U.S. defense
personnel in the suicide attacks in Riyad. They said the explosives used
reflected the expertise obtained in Al Qaida camps in eastern Afghanistan.
Saudi intelligence chief Prince Nawaf Bin Abdul Aziz said the attacks in
Riyad were planned and sponsored outside of Saudi Arabia. Nawaf told the Al
Riyad daily that the CIA had warned the kingdom of an imminent Al Qaida
attack. He said Saudi authorities quickly bolstered security measures.
Saudi officials have acknowledged Al Muwahidoun and said this was one of
a series of Al Qaida splinter groups that emerged over the last
year. The officials said Al Muwahidoun is believed connected to the Al Qaida
cell of 19 insurgents being sought by Saudi authorities and believed
responsible for the suicide bombing attacks on Western residential complexes
on early Tuesday. Officials said 15 insurgents were involved in the attacks.
"The fact that the terrorism happened is an indication of shortcomings,
and we have to learn from our mistakes and seek to improve our performance,"
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told a news conference on
In neighboring Kuwait, authorities also increased security measures,
particularly along border checkpoints and around major facilities. Thousands
of U.S. soldiers remain in the sheikdom although the military presence is
expected to dwindle over the coming months.