Senior Saudi prince injured by al Qaeda suicide bomber
Muhammad bin Nayef, son and assistant of Interior Minister Prince Nayef who spearheads the kingdom’s crackdown on al Qaeda, was injured Thursday night, Aug. 27, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at an open Ramadan gathering in Jeddah. He was officially termed lightly wounded. The king Abdullah rushed to visit him in hospital before he was reported discharged.
debkafile‘s counter-terrorist sources: It was the first time in the eight-year anti-terror campaign launched by Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks in the United States that a terrorist has got close enough to a Saudi royal for an attempted assassination.
Interior minister Nayef has often been named as a target by al Qaeda but would-be assassins have always been stopped in time. According to official reports, this bomber had expressed the intention to give himself up before he was admitted to one of the open gatherings which members of the royal family hold for citizens.
He apparently blew himself up in conversation with Prince Muhammad, who is credited according to our counter-terror sources with developing a unique rehabilitation program for al Qaeda terrorists who turn themselves in.
They undergo re-education, are awarded large sums of money and sent back to live with their tribes. No member of this program has been allowed to come close to a senior prince, certainly not Nayef’s son, one of the most closely guarded individuals in the kingdom.
Therefore the would-be assassin must have been senior enough to be recognized as a personal acquaintance of his target and given access to him. This was a serious breach of the tight security maintained around the Saudi royal family.
Our military sources report that Prince Muhammad had been spending most of his time in recent months in his Jeddah office on Saudi’s Red Sea coast, running Saudi involvement in the Yemeni army’s campaign to suppress a revolt backed by Iran and al Qaeda.
Only last week, on Aug. 19, the interior ministry announced the arrest of 44 al Qaeda terrorists in a yearlong sweep. Last month, 330 al Qaeda suspects were tried and sentenced to jail terms, fines and travel bans. They were among the 991 accused by the interior minister of taking part in terrorist attacks in the last five years.
These figures indicate to our counter-terror sources that al Qaeda is still alive and active in Saudi Arabia and able to attract new recruits.