First Published: 2004-07-01

Al-Qaeda: Saudi amnesty offer will fail

One of most wanted Islamic extremists in Saudi Arabia killed in heavy gunfight with security forces in Riyadh.


Middle East Online

Rashud figured number 22 on an interior ministry list of most wanted

RIYADH - Saudi security forces killed another of the kingdom's most wanted Islamic extremists in the latest shootout in the capital as Al-Qaeda scoffed at an amnesty offer for militants to surrender.

A week after the authorities declared that Al-Qaeda supporters who repent would be exonerated, police said Wednesday's gunbattle killed Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Rashud, "one of the most dangerous suspects in the kingdom, who is considered an ideologue of the Al-Qaeda group in Saudi Arabia".

Rashud figured number 22 on an interior ministry list of most wanted.

The English-language Arab News reported Thursday that he had taught at Riyadh's scientific institute of Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud University, a post he gave up before disappearing several years ago.

Police said another militant was also killed in the heavy exchange involving five militants in Riyadh's eastern Al-Quds area, as well as a security man.

An interior ministry statement, however, said only one Islamic militant and a police officer had been killed. It did not identify any of the dead.

Wednesday's was the first reported incident of unrest in the kingdom since authorities declared the amnesty on June 23, which gives militants a month to turn themselves in.

While two Islamic militants have taken advantage of the offer, Al-Qaeda said in its military publication Muwaskar al-Battar that the amnesty was a "desperate attempt to halt the jihad (holy war) in the Arabian peninsula".

Cited by Islamic websites, "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" said King Fahd's offer was doomed to "inescapable failure".

Those who do not surrender were warned they would face a harsh crackdown.

The ministry said that six other police officers were wounded in Wednesday's incident while a Saudi civilian and two foreigners were lightly hurt.

Arab News said two militants had been killed and while the identity of the second was unknown, wanted militant Bandar Abdulrahman Abdullah al-Dakheel, who is number 18 on the list, "managed to flee the shootout scene in a Ford Crown Victoria".

Rushud was wearing an explosives belt when he was killed, it added.

Police said security forces had earlier discovered a house used by the five in the capital's King Fahd neighbourhood and had followed the militants as they left in three cars, two of which were later destroyed in the shooting.

Stocks of arms and ammunition were recovered from the house.

The house, "where several terrorists and their families were believed to be residing" was "completely booby-trapped and full of explosives, enough to cause a major destruction in the entire area", according to the daily.

It also said the villa was believed to house the wife of Al-Qaeda's local chief Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, who was killed on June 18 with three of his comrades shortly after websites posted photos of an American hostage they had beheaded.

Late Wednesday Saudi security forces seized an olive-green Ford car left behind by gunmen in central Riyadh after the men stole a grey Ford from a Saudi citizen and fled.

Relatives of the Saudi man said the car was stolen by four gunmen, one of whom was wounded and bleeding. Police searched the abandoned car but no explosives were found.

The gunmen are believed to be among the militants who fled during the earlier shootout in east Riyadh.

Muslim extremists have staged a wave of deadly attacks in the kingdom since May 2003, more recently targeting Westerners. Muqrin's group last month vowed to rid the Arabian Peninsula of "infidels".

The wanted list has now seen 12 of the 26 named militants either killed or jailed in a massive crackdown that has also seen hundreds arrested and an escalation of violence.


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