Plus another warning about the dangers of the face veil. “Saudi concern rises over Al Qaeda activity in Yemen,” by Caryle Murphy for The Christian Science Monitor, October 19 (thanks to Sr. Soph):
The discovery by Saudi police of two Al Qaeda extremists wearing explosive vests in preparation for an “imminent” suicide attack underscores yet again the rising threat to Saudi Arabia from the deteriorating security situation in neighboring Yemen.
The target of the foiled Oct. 13 attack is not yet known, Ministry of Interior spokesman Gen. Mansour Al Turki said Monday. But equipment found in the men’s car last week, including explosives, machine guns, grenades, and two additional vests, suggests that the operation would have been significant – potentially resulting in the loss of many lives.
The men, one of whom spent several years in the US detention facility in GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba, had been sent to Saudi Arabia by an Al Qaeda affiliate based in Yemen, according to a Saudi Interior Ministry statement. Their foiled attack was the second close call for Saudi security forces in less than two months involving Saudi militants from the Yemen-based group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Made up largely of Saudis and Yemenis, AQAP is reportedly being reinforced by veteran jihadi fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to some analysts. It is able to work in relative freedom in Yemen because of the Yemeni government’s preoccupation with its own more pressing issues, namely a full-blown rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south. Another reason the Yemeni government tolerates the group’s presence may be because the jihadi fighters sometimes assist Yemeni forces in military operations against the rebels, a Western diplomat said – all of which make the precarious state a potential haven for militants. […]
The two fighters discovered last week, Rayed Abdullahi al-Harbi and Yousef Mohammed al-Shihri, were both on a Saudi government most-wanted list issued in February. Al Shihri is a former Guantanamo detainee, and the brother-in-law of Saeed al-Shihri, the Yemen-based deputy commander of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who also was at GuantÃ¡namo, spokesman Turki said.
Dressed like women, their faces hidden by veils, Harbi and Shihri were stopped at a highway checkpoint last week in the southern province of Jizan near the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border last week.
When police on duty asked a policewoman to check the identities of the “women,” the militants began firing. In the shoot-out that ensued, the would-be suicide bombers and one policeman were killed, the government statement said….