ABU DHABI ø Al Qaida has appointed a new Saudi operations chief.
Al Qaida said in a statement on the Voice of Jihad website that Saleh Al
Oufi was appointed the new chief of the Islamic insurgency group in Saudi
Arabia. The statement said Al Oufi replaced Abdul Aziz Al Muqrin, 31, who
was killed in a gunbattle with Saudi security forces on late June 18 in
Al Oufi was described as a former Saudi Interior Ministry prison guard
and the fourth Al Qaida chief in the kingdom since 2003. He has been cited
as the fifth most wanted insurgent on Saudi Arabia's list of 26 top
The statement said Al Muqrin had prepared Al Oufi and others to continue
the war against Saudi Arabia, Middle East Newsline reported. Al Muqrin was appointed insurgency chief after
the death of Khaled Ali Al Haj in a shootout with Saudi security forces in
eastern Riyad in March 2004.
Al Oufi was said to be one of numerous former Saudi security officers
who joined Al Qaida over the last decade. Saudi sources and media reports
said he was worked as a prison guard until 1992, when he was fired for lack
of discipline. He was said to lack Al Muqrin's organizational and
U.S. and Saudi officials have termed the killing of Al Muqrin and his
three lieutenants a key blow to the Al Qaida network in Saudi Arabia. They
said 12 Al Qaida operatives were also arrested, one of them said to be a
A Saudi official said Al Muqrin's deputy, Faisal Al Dakheel, was being
prepared to become the next chief of the Al Qaida network in the kingdom.
But Al Dakheel, as well as Turki Bin Fuheid Al Muteiry and Ibrahim Bin
Dreiham, were killed in the weekend shootout in Riyad hours after Al Qaida
announced the execution of abducted Lockheed Martin engineer Paul Johnson.
But Western intelligence sources who monitor Al Qaida discounted the
prospect that Al Muqrin's death would significantly hamper the
organization's capabilities. The sources said Al Qaida has about 3,000
agents and informers in the kingdom, many of them in the Saudi police and
In its statement, Al Qaida maintained that its June 12 abduction of
Johnson was aided by Saudi security forces. The statement said police
officers donated uniforms and a patrol car to establish a bogus checkpoint
that stopped the car Johnson was driving in near Riyad's airport.
"A number of the collaborators in the security agencies sincere to their
religion donated these clothes and police cars," Al Qaida said.