Saudi Arabia: More than 40 Al-Qaeda suspects 'in Iran'

Riyadh, 5 Feb. (AKI) - Forty-one suspected Al-Qaeda members wanted by Saudi authorities are currently in Iran, according to a report in pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq-al-Awsat. Quoting Saudi police investigations, the report says the suspects make up nearly half the 85 alleged terrorists wanted by authorities.

Saudi police believe they either choose to live in Iran or travel there on their way to Afghanistan or Pakistan. Authorities fear the suspects are plotting attacks on Saudi Arabia and Jordan from Iran.

Some of the suspects may also move to Yemen, another Al-Qaeda stronghold in the region.

The Saudi interior ministry on Tuesday released a list of 85 wanted terrorism suspects, all but two of them Saudis. One of the men on the list, Abdullah al-Qarawi, is a Saudi who has been operating from Iran for three years, the ministry claimed.

Al-Qarawi, 35, is believed to have been behind some recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, said a Saudi security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Qarawi leads Al-Qaeda’s operations in the Persian Gulf and Iran and recruits jihadist fighters for Afghanistan, the official said. It is believed al-Qawari has more than 100 Saudis working for him in Iran, where they move about freely, the official added.

His current battle name is Najim, he has learnt to use sophisticated weapons, allegedly provides jihadists with cash and false IDs and has created a base in Iran that supports Al-Qaeda cells in Iraq and Lebanon.

Al-Qarawi has allegedly been in Iran since 2006 and is reported to have helped several Saudi Al-Qaeda fugitives flee to Iraq and Lebanon where they have trained to carry out attacks.

Iran has consistently denied accusations by Saudi Arabia and the United States that it is harbouring Al-Qaeda members.

The Saudi interior ministry's most-wanted Al-Qaeda suspects are currently located in countries including Yemen, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said Saudi daily Okaz on Wednesday.

Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda, is on the wanted list. His branch recently announced that it was merging with the Saudi branch to form a new cell.

Okaz quoted unnamed sources saying 11 former detainees from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who returned to home to Saudi Arabia in 2006 subsequently entered Yemen and joined local Al-Qaeda cells there.

Over the past year or so, the Yemeni group appears to have expanded and brought in a number of Saudis, experts say.


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