ABU DHABI ø After more than two months of efforts, Al Qaida has
succeeded in bombing a major Saudi government installation.
A suicide car bomber blew himself up outside the Saudi security
headquarters in Riyad on Wednesday. At least four people, including a senior
Saudi officer, were killed and 150 were injured in the attack. The
headquarters was heavily damaged.
A Saudi Interior Ministry statement said the car bomber failed in his
attempt to ram his vehicle into a complex that houses several security
agencies, including the police and General Security headquarters. Instead,
the ministry said the driver exploded the car about 30 meters away from the
"When the guards there dealt with it as the situation dictates, the
driver blew up the vehicle 30 meters from the entrance," an Interior
Ministry official was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying.
"The blast caused destruction in the
surrounding area and casualties among ordinary citizens and security men."
Most of the complex, including the seven-story General Security
building, was heavily damaged, Middle East Newsline reported. A police colonel, Abdul Rahman Al Saleh, was
identified as one of those killed in the blast, caused by a bomb filled with
The attack took place during the visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage to Riyad. Armitage met Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al
Faisal as security forces rushed to the scene of the bombing. Last week, the
State Department ordered non-essential diplomats and their families to leave
the kingdom in wake of intelligence information regarding an imminent Al
"The Saudis and the U.S. have cooperated on counter-terrorism, and the
information was jointly shared," Armitage said after his meeting. "We made a
decision that we needed to draw down our embassy. I think the terrible
bombing here in Riyad today showed the wisdom of that decision."
Later, an Al Qaida-aligned group, Al Haramein Brigade, claimed
responsibility for the bombing and linked the attack to the Saudi killing
last month of the commander of the Al Qaida cell in the kingdom, Khaled Ali
Haj. The group has been targeting Saudi security officers and institutions
for the last eight months.
"Al Haramain Brigades in the Arabian peninsula succeeded in bombing the
command headquarters of emergency and anti-terrorism forces of the Interior
Ministry of the apostate government," Al Haramain said in a statement posted
on Islamic websites. "We are dedicating ourselves to fighting you [Saudi
Arabia] and we will show you the punishment of heresy, apostasy and crime."
Saudi security sources said the car bombing culminated more than two
months of efforts by Islamic insurgents to attack a major Saudi security
target in the Riyad area. The sources said security forces had captured five
vehicles laden with explosives meant to have been used in a series of
suicide attacks against
Saudi security and Western diplomatic installations in the kingdom.
Over the last few weeks, Al Qaida has targeted security officers in the
kingdom. At least 10 security officers were killed in a two-week period,
most of them in the Riyad area.
"Their morale is incredibly high," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef
Bin Abdul Aziz said of the security forces. "Attacking security forces shows
the bankruptcy of the terror cells, which we are determined to track down."
On April 8, Saudi Arabia faced another threat from Al Qaida when the
new leader of the organization's network in the kingdom called for renewed
attacks on the United States and its Arab allies. An Islamic website,
Dirasat, showed a masked man identified as Abdul Aziz Al Muqrin reading a
statement in which he called on Muslims to attack Americans.
Muqrin was said to have been appointed head of Al Qaida in the Persian
Gulf region in March 2004 after the killing of his predecessor, Haj, a