Saudi concern rises over Al Qaeda activity in Yemen
Two Yemen-based militants dressed as women, one of whom was a former Guantánamo prisoner, were intercepted at a Saudi checkpoint last week.
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"For the US government, Yemen is a counterterrorism priority second only to Afghanistan/Pakistan," Boucek said in an interview.
In his report, he said that while the international community must be "realistic about the limitations of intervention in Yemen. In the near term, however, inaction is not an option."
Operations inside Saudi Arabia
The recent interception of two suicide bombers follows earlier arrests this year of extremists operating inside Saudi Arabia with links to Al Qaeda. In April, 11 men who allegedly had stored components for more than 30 suicide vests, some of it in caves, were detained. Their main targets, spokesman Al Turki said at the time, were to have been Saudi security officials and policemen.
In August, the Interior Ministry announced that a year-long surveillance operation had led to the detention of an Al Qaeda-linked cell of 44 men. The men, most of whom held advanced university degrees, had hidden away machine guns and electronic circuits for bombs, a statement said.
On Aug. 27, Abdullah Asiri, pretending that he was surrendering to authorities, blew himself up while seated next to Saudi Arabia's top counter-terrorism official. He allegedly had secreted the bomb inside his body. The official, Prince Muhammed bin Nayef, escaped serious injury.
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 Guantánamo, 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.
Two additional suicide vests found in the men's black GMC, suggesting that others would have joined their operation.
"The whole group was planning one terror attack and each of them had a specific role to play," Turki told the Associated Press. "The presence of the extra belts indicates they were working with people inside the kingdom."
The car's driver and six Yemenis allegedly collaborating with the slain extremists were arrested, the ministry said.