Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, has said a suicide bomber’s attempt on the life of his son on Thursday night will not change the Kingdom’s counter-terrorism strategy which leaves options for “repentant” extremists to surrender.
Speaking to a group of businessmen in Jeddah, Prince Naïf said Thursday’s incident “will not change this policy by which we open the door for those who repent”.
The Minister’s son, Prince Muhammad bin Naif, who is leading Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror campaign narrowly escaped assassination when a suicide bomber posing as a repentant extremist blew himself up inside his residence. Prince Naif warned that the security situation in Saudi Arabia might worsen “not in terms of the number [of attacks] but rather in their nature, and that is more dangerous”.
In its version of Thursday’s strike, Al-Qaeda, in a statement has revealed details about the attack, which, it claimed had cross border linkages involving Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The statement by the “Qaeda Jihad Organisation in the Arab Peninsula” named the bomber as Abdullah Al Asiri. It said Al Asiri, who was based in Yemen, had crossed the border to give himself up to the Saudi Interior Ministry. He was flown from Najran, close to the Yemeni border, to Jeddah in Prince Muhammad’s private jet. “He managed to get through all the inspections at Najran and Jeddah airports and travelled on his [the prince’s] private jet,” it said. “The hero martyr on the list of 85 wanted persons Abdullah Hassan Tali’ al-Asiri, known as Abul-Khair, managed to enter his palace, pass his guards and blow up a package,” said the statement, posted on Islamist websites.
The Al Arabiya satellite channel, meanwhile, said Al Asiri was a 23-year-old Saudi, and his brother Ibrahim was also on the Saudi wanted list of 85. It quoted Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi as saying Al Asiri had moved into Saudi Arabia from the Yemeni region of Mirib, after stating his wish to surrender.
Analysts say Saudi Arabia’s effective counter-terrorism drive, headed by Prince Muhammad has pushed the Al-Qaeda operating in the Kingdom to neighbouring Yemen and Iraq. Security forces in Yemen are overstretched because the military there has been heavily engaged in combating the Iran-backed Houthi militia in its Saada mountain strongholds.