Saudi Arabia Al-Qaeda Head Killed

Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi, head of al Qaeda’s Saudi Arabia operation, was killed by Saudi police today.

al-Qaida Leader in Saudi Arabia Killed (AP)

Police raids touched off fierce gunbattles Thursday that killed six Islamic extremists, and authorities said the dead included al-Qaida’s leader in Saudi Arabia, whose hideout was found to hold the head of a murdered American last summer. Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi, the kingdom’s top fugitive, had led local al-Qaida operations since his predecessor was killed by police a year ago during a crackdown on religious militants in the homeland of Osama bin Laden and most of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers.

Al-Aoofi was believed involved in the June 2004 kidnapping and beheading of engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr., whose body was shown in photos on the Internet. A few weeks after the slaying, police found Johnson’s head in a freezer at an apartment that had been used by al-Aoofi.

The former Saudi prison guard was one of only two people still at large from a list of 26 most-wanted militants that was issued in December 2003. The remaining militant is another Saudi, Talib Saud Abdullah al-Talib. The others have either been captured or killed.

One suspects a lot more terrorists will have to be killed before al Qaeda’s operations in the Kingdom will abate. Still, any progress is welcome news.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.