Eating Their Own
from the Daily Times Monitor
h/t Dr. Bulldog
‘Major Saudi operation foiled Al Qaeda plot against haj’
Alerted by Saudi and other intelligence agencies that Al Qaeda planned to launch a bloody assault on Muslim pilgrims taking part in the haj, the Saudi government last week launched a huge counter-terrorism operation, one of the largest in recent memory, according to US intelligence officials, a Middle East Times report said on Tuesday.
Over 3 million Muslims flocked to Makkah this year for haj that began on December 6 “under the nervous eye of Saudi security forces that included 20,000 ground forces, flights of combat helicopters and a large number of armoured vehicles deployed at key locations”, the report quoted US officials as saying.
US sources said technical and other surveillance was increased in and around Makkah and the site was monitored by 10,000 security cameras and Saudi agents mixed in with the pilgrims. “Communications between Saudi fast reaction and special security units was improved and capability augmented.” No four-wheel vehicles were allowed because of fears of car bombings. The pilgrims who did not have current permits were deported.
“The Saudi operation began three months ago with pre-emptive raids by Saudi security forces on suspected Al Qaeda cells, according to a former senior CIA official. Several hundred suspects were taken into custody, he said.
The report quoted US officials as saying intelligence co-operation between the US and Saudi Arabia had grown by leaps and bounds from the Saudi stonewalling days of the 1996 terror attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Khobar Towers. “Currently teams of US Treasury Department agents along with FBI and CIA operatives and analysts are based in Riyadh and working together,” the report said.
“Co-ordination couldn’t be better,” a former senior CIA official was quoted as saying.
The report noted Saudi efforts to disperse and disrupt Al Qaeda had known no rest for the last few years. In 2007, 172 suspected terrorists were captured in an operation in April, and another 139 suspects were arrested that year including a would-be suicide bomber. In March 2008, the leader of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, Fahd Feraj al-Juwair, was among five terrorists killed by eastern Riyadh security forces, and by June, the government had arrested 701 Al Qaeda suspects accused of plotting attacks against the kingdom’s economic and oil installations and preparing to free jailed members.
Thanks to the intensity of current Saudi efforts, “the place today is a lot more relaxed”, the report said.