Al Qaida claims insurgents escaped after Jedda attack

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

ABU DHABI Al Qaida claims several operatives escaped during the takeover of the U.S. consulate in Jedda.

An Al Qaida statement on the Internet claimed responsibility for the Dec. 6 strike on the U.S. diplomatic facility in the Saudi port city. The statement said an unidentified number of assailants fled before security forces regained control of the consulate compound.

"They were able to withdraw from the consulate and reach a safe place, after losing two martyrs who covered the retreat of the Islamic warriors, three of whom were wounded and are being treated," the statement, signed by Al Qaida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula, said.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said the Al Qaida cell consisted of five operatives, Middle East Newsline reported. The ministry said three of the operatives were killed and two others were injured and captured.

One of the injured attackers later died in the hospital, the ministry said. The ministry said no Saudi security officers were killed in the siege.

Al Qaida said the cell that attacked the consulate killed nine people. The statement said the casualties included two Americans and Saudi soldiers and injured dozens of additionals nationals.

"This operation is one of the series of operations carried out by the Al Qaida organization in their war against the crusaders and the Jews to chase the infidels out of the Arabian peninsula," the statement said. "The Islamic warriors are determined to pursue their fight."

The United States said five embassy employees none of them Americans -- were killed in the attack. On Tuesday, U.S. ambassador to Riyad, James Oberwetter, acknowledged that a U.S. diplomat, vice consul Monica Lemieux, was shot and injured during the Al Qaida attack on the consulate.

"It's clear that some of these people have been looking at our procedures," Oberwetter told a news conference. "They clearly understood how our cars entered the compound and in my view had scoped it out."

The Interior Ministry identified three of the five Al Qaida members Fayez Bin Awad Al Juhaini, Eid Bin Dakhilallah Al Juhaini and Hassan Bin Hamid Al Hazimi. The ministry did not say whether the Al Juhainis were related or provide other details.

All five were said to be Saudi nationals. One of those captured was said to be Salah Al Awfi, head of the Al Qaida network in Saudi Arabia.

"The identity of the fourth [attacker], who is wounded, must not be divulged for the sake of public interest," the ministry said, "and procedures are under way to establish the identity of the fifth person, who died in the incident."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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