Thursday, 3 June 2010

Al Qaeda threatens to kidnap Saudi royals

Source: Reuters 03/06/2010

Al Qaeda has threatened to kidnap Saudi princes and ministers in order to secure the release of a female al Qaeda operative arrested by Saudi forces, al Arabiya television said on Thursday.

In an audiotape played on al Arabiya, an al Qaeda regional commander threatened "major operations" against the kingdom following the arrest of Haylah al-Qassir.

Qassir was believed to be responsible for recruiting women to the global militant group as well as handling money issues, the Arab satellite television channel said.

"Al Qaeda is organizing cells to kidnap...princes, ministers and officials including military commanders," Saeed al-Shehri said in the audiotape.

Reuters could not verify the accuracy of the recording.

The regional Yemen-based arm of the group, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), jumped to the forefront of Western and Saudi security concerns after it claimed responsibility for a failed December attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound passenger plane.

In April, the group tried to assassinate the British ambassador to Yemen when a suicide bomber threw himself into the path of his convoy in the capital, Sanaa.

Only the suicide bomber died, but the bold hit signaled that a recent crackdown by the Yemeni government on the global militant group has done little to curb its ambitions to carry out attacks in the region and beyond.

Last August, a 23-year-old AQAP suicide bomber posing as a repentant militant, tried to kill Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who heads Saudi Arabia's anti-terrorism campaign.

Yemen, struggling to curb a northern Shi'ite insurgency and a southern separatist movement, has faced international pressure to quell domestic conflicts in order to focus on fighting a resurgent al Qaeda in the impoverished country.

Qassir, called "the lady of al Qaeda," is the widow of an al Qaeda operative killed six years ago, al Arabiya said.

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