A key clandestine al Qaeda network has been smashed at Kuwait University’s Islamic Law Department, functioning as a logistical hub directing terrorist traffic two ways, to Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It was also on the brink of activating its own terrorist cells for a comprehensive offensive in the emirate.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources report the detention of thirty operatives in the nick of time. The group had already marked out for attack Kuwait’s national security service installations, its army bases and US military facilities. But the network’s leaders, Abdullah Dusari, 31 (R.), and Ahmed Wahish al Matiri, 27 (L.), plus another half dozen members escaped.
The Saudi war against al Qaeda has taught Kuwaiti and US terrorism experts that even if a small number of a ring’s members remain at large, they will find a way of carrying out their assigned mission. The danger is even greater in the case of Kuwait because the two ringleaders are free.
Our sources note that the network’s plan to strike at Kuwait’s internal intelligence centers shows the Islamic group’s increasing boldness. While the American and Kuwaiti investigators were on the lookout for sophisticated methods of concealment, the university network worked in the open in way simple and cunning enough to cover their intentions.
In early May, the head of Kuwait’s Salfi movement Dr. Hamad al-Ali, published an edict on his web site authorizing every believing Muslim to perform terrorist operations against anti-Muslim elements without applying to religious scholars for special permission. Kuwaitis and Americans alike took the edict as a scholarly statement of academic interest to the site’s general audience.
It later turned out to be a veiled message to the al Qaeda network’s activists to go into operational mode without delay. They were given to understand that no additional permission was required from any Islamic authority. This order reached its address by safe and direct means which bypassed the risk of interception incurred in the use of telephones or couriers. Publication of the edict sufficed as the signal for this particular network to go into action.
Further investigation revealed that Dr. al-Ali, leading light of Kuwait University’s Islamic Canon Law Department, lived an undercover life as chief recruiter of the network. His “academic” lectures, like his digital edict, often contained coded operational instructions for his students.
Their plans for operations in Kuwait were compiled with meticulous attention to detail.
Found in detained members’ homes were maps showing the locations of American facilities in the emirate, diagrams and lists clearly reflecting long surveillance of guard posts, their strength, and timetables of duty changes and US military convoy arrivals and departures.
The network was also found in possession of detailed data on US naval movements protecting Kuwaiti oil installations and its harbor, and the internal layout of Kuwait’s security services buildings, marked with the names of the officers occupying different rooms.
Most revealing was the roster of the network’s drivers, vehicles and gas consumption for regular journeys via Kuwait between Saudi Arabia and points in central and southern Iraq. This roster was the key to the university ring’s key function as logistical pivot of al Qaeda traffic that kept Baghdad and Fallujah linked to Khobar on the eastern Saudi coast.
An intensive manhunt is on for the fugitive terrorists.