Al Qaeda’s Grim Cat’s Cradle – Just the Beginning

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Click on small map for spread of al Qaeda network`s international bases.
Remarks by President George W. Bush on White House South Lawn Friday May 16, 03:20 pm.
Q. In terms of combating terrorism at home, do you think the Saudis have gotten the message this time around?
A. Well, Saudi Arabia is our friend, John, and we’re working closely with them to track down the killers of American citizens and British citizens and citizens from Saudi Arabia, as well as other countries. The best way to defend the homeland, the best way to secure the future of the American people is to find the killers before they strike us. And that’s exactly what we’re doing now inside of Saudi Arabia. Obviously we mourn the loss of life. It is a – It is certainly a wake-up call to many that the war on terror continues, that we’ve still got a big task to protect the American people and others who love freedom from the designs of – and the will of these purveyors of hate. And we’ll find them. We’ll bring them to justice.
Q. But sir, is the message coming from this administration to the Saudis that you’ve got a problem, you have to deal with it – and you have to wake up to the fact that you have to deal with it?
A. Yes, here’s the message. Yes, here’s the message. The message is the war on terror goes on, that there are killers on the loose – obviously killers on the loose inside of Saudi Arabia in this example. And we want to work with them and find them, find those killers and bring them to justice. And we are still in a – it’s dangerous in the world. And it’s dangerous inside Saudi Arabia. And it’s dangerous so long as al Qaeda continues to operate. And so we’ll chase them down. The best way to secure the homeland is to work with countries like Saudi Arabia and to find the killers and get them before they get us. And that’s what this country will do.
Not twelve hours later, al Qaeda struck again – this time in Casablanca to target a Jewish community center and ancient synagogue, a Jewish-owned restaurant and a hotel patronized by Israeli visitors in the neighborhoods of the Spanish cultural center and the Belgian consulate.
In between Riyadh and Casablanca, some salient facts emerged from investigations carried out by the intelligence and counter-terror sources of debkafile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly:
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1.The casualty count in al Qaeda’s chain of attacks in Riyadh on Monday, May 12, is between 94 and 96 killed and 196 injured – almost triple the 34 dead grudgingly admitted by the Saudi authorities.
2. The assailants aimed for American targets at the hub of the US-Saudi strategic partnership. This stood out in their choice of the guarded, gated residential compounds to striket: Al-Hamra in East Riyadh on the way to King Khaled international airport, Arizona and Granada, homes to Americans and Britishers who help the royal government in the most sensitive security domains. Many of the Americans are on the staff of Vinnell, a subsidiary of the Northrop-Grumann aircraft manufacturer, as well as Boeing. Since 1975, Vinnell has been training members of the Saudi National Guard whose commander is Crown Prince Abdullah, for its primary task of defending the crown from external or domestic danger. The Boeing staffers instructed Saudi Air Force crews the handling of AWAC planes.
3.Some of the al Qaeda terrorists wore National Guards uniforms; some also drove vehicles with the unit’s insignia to the areas of attack. Eye witnesses saw terrorists clearly in command positions using keys to open up sentry booths in some places. Others had keys ready to operate the barriers and gates from inside those booths.
These and other indications point to a very unusual terrorist strike; the attackers clearly had senior accomplices on the inside of the very security force whose job it is to defend the powers- that-be in Riyadh.
4.Ten days before the multiple bombings in Riyadh, John Bolton, the State Department Undersecretary for Disarmament, visited Moscow to pick a bone with the Russians for the umpteenth time over their aid to Iran’s nuclear development. While there, he was invited to watch a video-film secretly shot by Russian intelligence on a different subject: a conclave of the new leadership of the Chechen rebel forces held in early April.
Our exclusive sources were apprised of the three main disclosures in this film:
A. Saudis were a heavy component in the new rebel Chechen leadership. B. Its new top gun is a Saudi tribesman, none other than Muhammed al-Ghamedi, cousin of Ahmed and Hamza al-Ghamedi, two of the Saudi members of the suicide team that crashed an airliner into New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He uses the nom de guerre of Abu Walid and belongs to the Ghamid tribe that controls large areas of the southern Saudi province of Assir. (See accompanying DEBKA Special Map.) C. It was clear from the dialogue on the tape that the leadership group had plans to operate outside Russia as well as Chechnya and was well supplied with funds from Saudi Arabia to carry through its plans.
On the morning of the deadly attacks in Riyadh, US secretary of state Colin Powell inspected the devastation at the al Hamra estate. The next day found him in Moscow. He too was shown the Chechen videotape.
5. Washington has received ample evidence in recent months that direct Saudi involvement in – and funding of – al Qaeda’s terror networks goes on uninterrupted by the 9/11 attacks and the Afghan War. In some ways, it has expanded.
According to debkafile‘s intelligence sources, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zuwahri are alive and active and have assumed personal command of the current wave of terror. The Saudi and Persian Gulf cells are commanded by two Saudis, Khaleb al Jehani – who mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/KHALEB.jpg” align=”right” border=”0″>travels constantly between Riyadh, Jeddah, Damascus, Beirut and south Lebanon; and Seif al Adal – who commutes between Qaeda camps in northern Iran near Mashhad, Tehran, northern Iraq, Damascus and Lebanon.
The latestDEBKA-Net-Weekly (Issue 109, May 16)published some of the revelations laid bare in the secret al Qaeda archives US forces hunted in Afghanistan for two years and finally unearthed in northern Iraqi caves not far from Suleimaniyeh.
The Americans found out from these documents that the Syrians are not only hiding Iraqi regime leaders but also two senior al Qaeda operatives suspected of a hand in setting up the Riyadh strikes. Syrian president Bashar Assad has refused every US request to surrender them.
Also revealed was a system of medrases, or religious schools, established in the suburbs of Damascus to take the place the schools of Pakistani Peshawar as breeding grounds and recruiting centers for the next generation of al Qaeda terrorists.
The two British Muslim terrorists, Asif Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, assigned to striking Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv on April 30, were picked by al Qaeda spotters in Britain as student-trainees at one of the Damascus medresas; there, they were recruited by Hamas scouts and sent to the Gaza Strip for advanced training for the Tel Aviv suicide attack. Saudi Arabia transfers to the Hamas around $50 m per annum, 70-75 percent of which DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports is expended on the planning and execution of terrorist operations.
Al Qaeda maintains another key base in East Africa under the command of Mohammed Fazul, planner of the 1998 US embassy attacks in Tanzania and Kenya, the hijacking of Ethiopian Airways Flight 961 in 1996 – in which a group of Israeli Air Industries executives was murdred, and the attacks on an Israeli hotel and Arkia airliner in Mombasa last December.
Fazul, an Egyptian who lived briefly in the Cormoro Islands, has marked out his travels between his base in Mogadishu, Nairobi, Yemen and the Assir province of Saudi Arabia. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources believe Fazul set up the Casablanca string of simultaneous attacks Saturday, May 17, in which more than 40 were killed and around 100 injured.
The “Israeli networks”, commanded by the Jordanian bio-chemical warfare specialist, Abu Musab Zarqawi, has not yet been fully activated in its allotted territory of Israel and western Europe. There is every indication they have been picked to lead the next wave of al Qaeda violence. This group of cells is part of the replacement system outlined in a blueprint discovered with the documents found in northern Iraq that provides for the contingency of the Islamic network losing its Afghan bases. The system works like a tree: Branches seeded in the Middle East and Europe will eventually plant cells in the United States and Canada.
This process has already begun. Some members of the Saudi cells which carried out the bombings in Riyadh were of Algerian descent and carried Canadian passports. The Canadian cells are intended to spearhead a fresh wave of terrorist activity in the United States, a repeat of the failed attempt to bring off the Millennium attacks in December 1999.
Shortly after president Bush praised US-Saudi cooperation in catching terrorists, Adel al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, acknowledged to a news conference in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia shares part of the blame for the attacks in the Saudi capital.
“Have we failed?” he asked with great pathos. “Yes. On Monday, we failed. And we will learn from this mistake.” One other of his assertions was widely reported, that the United States and Saudi Arabia are “the two countries that are in the crosshairs of this murderous organization called al Qaeda.”
However another remark was not. Almost in tears, royal adviser al-Jubeir declared that the shock Saudis suffered from the terrorist attacks in Riyadh was identical to American suffering from the 9/11 catastrophes.
In other words, the de facto Saudi monarch believes that the American and Saudi nations are the victims of a tiny group of violent, insane and radical Saudis, which their combined resources for some strange reason are incapable of subduing.
On June 25, 1996, an al Qaeda truck bomb ravaged the US army barracks of the Saudi Eastern Provinces at Khobar Towers. Like the al Hamra compound of Riyadh, this complex housed American air force personnel assigned to safeguarding the kingdom’s oil fields. In the blast, 19 Americans servicemen died and more than 500 were injured. Many were critically wounded and most certainly died later, but the death toll was never updated in the eight intervening years.
To this day, the Saudi authorities refuse to give the Americans access to their investigation of the attack or the prosecution, if any, of the perpetrators. Most security and terror experts agree that the Khobar Towers attack and subsequent Saudi cover-up of their actions with regard to the terrorists to justice helped to furnish the stage set for the 9/11 outrages. Al Jubeir made no reference to this most significant sin of omission in combating the terror flourishing in the Saudi domain. Had the Saudi authorities apprehended and punished the terrorists who committed the Khobar Towers attack, they might have prevented al Qaeda from proceeding with its next outrages two years later in New York and Washington.
However from the royal adviser’s remarks, it is clear that the Saudi authorities will handle the Riyadh massacres in exactly the same way as the Khobar Towers bombing. The investigation will be a sweeping of incriminating evidence under the rug rather than a serious probe and even if there are findings, they will not be shared with Washington.
It is hard to miss the similarities between the Saudi and Palestinian styles of defending their actions. Both are moved by a highly developed sense of victim-hood. Neither denies that the bane of suicidal terror springs from within themselves. Yet both claim to be the victims – not the source of the evil. Apologists like al Jubeir argue that the Saudis are victims just as much as the Americans (in 9/ll), and both share suffering inflicted by evil murderers. The Saudis, he says, do not deserve the criticism the Americans level against them but rather their sympathy and commiseration.

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