They Confirm Osama bin Laden Is Still in Command

If they wanted to go public, the Russian and Saudi security services could boast several coups in the last two weeks in their war against Islamist terror. But they prefer to keep their successes dark.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter terror sources reveal their feats here for the first time:

After a year of intensive effort, Russian special forces wiped out a group of high-profile Chechen terrorists, the inner circle of the Arab commander of al Qaeda in Chechnya, Abu Hafez al Urduni, a Chechen of Jordanian origin. They killed Jabar Tayafi, Abu Hafez’s operations officer and right hand, and also Abu Omar al Sayel, al Qaeda’s senior theological guide in the Russian republic, together with his wife.

Al Sayel, a Saudi national from Qasim, was one of al Qaeda’s old soldiers.

In 1995, he arrived in Afghanistan and soon became one of Osama bin Laden‘s closest intimates. He stayed there until the American October 2001 invasion and was among the Saudi fighters evacuated from the Afghan war zone by an airlift operated from Saudi Arabia to rescue hundreds of its stranded nationals.

After a brief home leave, Abu Sayel set out for Chechnya. He arrived in the spring of 2002 and soon became the Arab contingent’s religious officer. This is a key function in al Qaeda’s chain of command, with responsibility for choosing targets and determining the unit’s methods of operation.

His religious-operational decrees began to resonate well beyond the borders of embattled Chechnya – as far as Iraq. In the last year, some of his decrees determined the course of al Qaeda’s terrorist offensive in Iraq, especially instrumental in the decision to pursue combat against the Americans with the utmost force and in all circumstances.

Even Abu Musab al Zarqawi, had he wished to override Abu Sayel’s guidelines, was forced to follow them because they were the guiding lights for his men.


A dozen veiled Saudi women serve as al Qaeda couriers


The Saudis, for their part, were no less successful in their gains against al Qaeda. Their security forces were able to lay hands on the senior liaison officer between the Saudi and Persian Gulf cells and Osama bin Laden in person. His interrogators are not entirely sure of his identity; they know him only by his codename of Matiari. But his capture enabled them to break open the team of undercover couriers he used to carry messages between the bin Laden’s Afghanistan headquarters and the Saudi network.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Riyadh disclose that King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz was floored when his security chiefs told him that most of al Qaeda’s team of 13 couriers were Saudi women. This is the first time in Saudi Arabia that a large group of women has been caught in the service of al Qaeda’s international logistic service. All these women-couriers were wealthy enough to make frequent flights to Kabul from one of the Gulf emirates, bearing messages to or from bin Laden concealed on their persons.

This investigation fully bears out the exclusive revelations of DEBKA-Net-Weekly 232 of December 2 (Detainees Reveal: Osama bin Laden is in Command). It established that bin Laden is at the forefront of a fresh terror offensive and in hands-on command of the operations carried out by al Qaeda around the world.

Our experts note that that the cross-checks of the input from investigations of al Qaeda operatives captured and networks smashed in nine countries of North Africa and Europe with the fresh data gathered by the Saudis confirms the al Qaeda leader’s use of couriers for sending out orders and receiving reports.

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