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Friday, May 6, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Al Qaida fugitive on most wanted list surrenders to Saudis

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia has reported the surrender of a leading Al Qaida operative.


The Saudi Interior Ministry said Khaled Hathal Abdullah Al Atifi Al Qahtani has surrendered to authorities. The ministry said the 32-year-old Al Qahtani, regarded as a leading Al Qaida fugitive, called Saudi security officials from a foreign country and offered to return to the kingdom.

"Al Qahtani contacted security agencies expressing his desire to return to the kingdom and surrender himself to authorities," Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al Turki said. "Consequently, we made arrangements for his return and reunite him with his family."

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Officials said Al Qahtani, believed to be a leader of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was deemed a major threat to the Saudi kingdom. They said he was believed to have fled to neighboring Yemen in 2009.

On May 5, a U.S.-origin Predator unmanned aerial vehicle was reported to have fired a missile at a car in southern Yemen that killed two AQAP operatives. The Yemeni Defense Ministry identified the two targets as brothers Abdullah and Mosad Mubarak, who had been traveling in the Shabwa province.

The Interior Ministry has drafted a list of its 47 top fugitives. In January, Riyad relayed the list — all of them Saudis — to Interpol.

In 2001, Al Qahtani's relative, Mohammed, was captured by the U.S. Army in the battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan. For the last few years, Mohammed has been held in the U.S. Navy prison in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Officials said scores of AQAP operatives have fled Yemen amid the opposition campaign against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. They said some of the operatives were fleeing to neighboring Africa, including Somalia.

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