RIYADH - A former Saudi police officer has taken over as leader of the Al-Qaeda network on the Arabian peninsula after security forces killed Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin in a gunbattle in Riyadh, Arab media reported Monday.
Saleh Mohammad al-Oufi, 38, who is number four on the kingdom's list of most wanted militants, "has been designated Al-Qaeda chief in Saudi Arabia, succeeding Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin," Asharq al-Awsat said.
The Saudi-owned daily published in London sourced the news to Al-Qaeda itself without further detail.
The Saudi Institute, which bills itself as an independent news outfit based in Washington, quoted "intelligence" to confirm al-Oufi's appointment.
It said the one-time police officer, born in Medina, joined "terrorist networks in Afghanistan, and Bosnia where he was injured and returned to Saudi Arabia in 1995.
"Al-Oufi was in the shadows while al-Muqrin was in charge, because he was busy running the secret Al-Qaeda camps in Saudi Arabia. He was essentially responsible for training, recruitment, and logistics," the institute said.
"Saleh al-Oufi is the most dangerous" of the Al-Qaeda lieutenants left alive in Saudi Arabia, said Al-Hayat, also Saudi-owned and published from London.
Islamist web sites used as information channels by Al-Qaeda have either not posted the succession news or remained inaccessible since Sunday, when a statement in the name of the network announced that the succession to al-Muqrin had been prepared and the jihad or holy war would go on.
Al-Muqrin became the Al-Qaeda leader in the kingdom after Yemeni Khaled Ali Haj was killed in March this year as Sauid Arabia hunted down the extremists.
Asharq al-Awsat said the previous chief of the network on the Arabian peninsula, Yussef Al-Ayri, was also shot dead in June last year, a month after a series of suicide bombings started in the kingdom.