Al Qaida following Americans,
plotting new Saudi attacks

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

WASHINGTON The United States has warned Americans in Saudi Arabia that their movements are being monitored by Al Qaida terrorists. The warning was based on intelligence information that Al Qaida is planning a new attack in the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Saudi security sources said the interrogation of Al Qaida suspects and raids of Islamic insurgency strongholds have yielded evidence of an Al Qaida plot to strike numerous British and U.S. targets in the kingdom. The sources said Al Qaida had obtained enough explosives and belts as well as suicide bombers for dozens of attacks.

The Al Qaida plot, the sources said, appeared to match or exceed the simultaneous suicide attacks in Riyad on May 12. Al Qaida bombers broke through four Western compounds and facilities and blew up car bombs that killed 35 people.

[On Monday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said authorities arrested several fugitives suspected of being part of insurgency cells, Middle East Newsline reported. The ministry said authorities also seized 19 kilograms of C-4 plastic explosives and several explosive belts used in suicide bombings.] The U.S. embassy in Riyad urged Americans to change their routes of travel and to behave with discretion. The embassy also urged nationals to take precautions with the handling of their mail.

Over the last six months, authorities have captured most of the members of Al Qaida's network in the kingdom, security sources said. They cited raids of suspected Al Qaida strongholds in Jedda, Jizan, Mecca, Qassim and Riyad.

Saudi security sources said the evidence found at suspected Al Qaida hideouts in and outside Riyad suggested plans for a series of suicide bombings. The sources said authorities found suicide belts as well as large amounts of advanced explosives.

The Saudi Interior Ministry detailed the capture of Al Qaida arsenals in several locations throughout the kingdom over the last week. The ministry said the findings included 10 kilograms of RDX explosives, nine kilograms of C4 explosives and 11 kilograms of explosive mixture supplied for belts worn by suicide bombers.

Saudi security forces also found 16 jackets meant to contain and conceal suicide belts worn by Al Qaida bombers. They also found a guide on how to execute lethal attacks.

"All Americans in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia should continue to exercise caution in matters concerning personal security," the embassy said. "Americans should try to maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for travel, and treat mail from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. It is also important that any suspicious activity, individuals or vehicles be reported to your sponsoring organization, residential manager and Saudi authorities for appropriate action."

In August, the State Department urged Americans to defer non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia. Officials said some of the threats against Americans in Saudi Arabia include attacks on their places of businesses and commuter buses.

In a raid on a farm in central Saudi Arabia, authorities found AK-47 assault rifles and pistols as well as 1,770 bullets. In another raid on an insurgency stronghold in the Mecca region, authorities seized home-made grenades and electrical equipment required for the production of bombs.

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