An Al-Qa'ida leader avoided confirming his organization's responsibility for last week's terrorist bombing which targeted traffic police headquarters in Riyadh and claimed the lives of innocent civilians and children. Responsibility for the bombing was claimed by a group calling itself Kata'ib Al-Haramayn (Al-Haramayn Brigade) in a statement circulated among fundamentalist forums and at a time when several of the leader's emails contained strong indicators of his organization's responsibility for this attack.
Even if Abu-Muhammad Al-Ablaj, Al-Qa'ida chief training officer, clearly implied in several emails sent to Al-Majallah following the terrorist attack in Al-Washm that his organization had prior knowledge of this attack, that the Al-Qa'ida leadership abroad received news of the attack's success moments following its execution through someone close to Abd-al-Aziz al-Muqrin, in addition to his saying that the leaders of the group which carried out the attack have close contacts with Al-Qa'ida leaders abroad without specifying whether these contacts were recent or long standing and that the Al-Haramayn Brigades are affiliated with Al-Qa'ida such as the Abu-Hafs al-Masri Brigades, who he said are concerned with executing foreign attacks, despite all this he did not go as far as announcing the organization's responsibility for this attack -- as he usually does -- even though most of the clear indicators within his emails imply that Al-Qa'ida is behind it.
Al-Ablaj was the one to announce Al-Qa'ida's responsibility for the terrorist bombings in Riyadh last May long before Al-Qa'ida issued its own statement. He also announced the organization's responsibility for the Al-Muhayya complex bombings.
A Saudi official had accused Al-Qa'ida of carrying out this attack in telephone statements he made to US journalists in the US and in which he said: "We have no doubt that Al-Qa'ida is behind this incident."
Al-Majallah was unable to uncover the reasons behind Al-Qa'ida's failure to clearly announce its responsibility for this attack at a time when its chief training official relayed clear indicators to this effect in his emails.
Al-Ablaj said that the Al-Haramayn Brigades wished to distinguish themselves through this attack and distance themselves from the movement.
He did not give any convincing justification for these acts and only stated in his email that internal considerations imposed this matter without clarifying the nature of these considerations. Al-Ablaj said: "Members of Al-Haramayn Brigades wanted to distinguish and distance themselves from Al-Qa'ida. For our part, we say that the Al-Washm attack is an internal matter."
Al-Ablaj quickly added: "I have one more remark to make on this issue but it is not to be understood that the organization takes responsibility for this attack. As long as the brothers distinguish themselves and exhibit independence then they may have intended something from this. However, there is something which cannot be denied; namely that the leaders on the inside received orders from Bin Ladin personally in addition to his opinion and advice." He did not specify whether or not the orders he mentioned were related to this operation.
He said, however: "There cannot be any improvised attacks. Who would carry out an operation of this nature and size if not our men in the land of the two holy shrines. The message is a clear one and not a hint." He added: "We can say that this attack arose from the incitement against Arab countries contained in Al-Shaykh's addresses, especially the Id address."
The Al-Haramayn Brigades do not conceal their ties with Al-Qa'ida and this is not the first time this group announces its responsibility for a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia; it previously claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of a Saudi security officer on 4 December 2003.
(Description of Source: London Al-Majallah in Arabic -- London-based Saudi-owned weekly; sister magazine of Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper providing independent coverage of Arab and international issues)
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