Saudi Al Qaeda Chief Killed
News services in Saudi Arabia Saturday showed images of bloodied bodies that government security officials said were four leaders of the group that asserted responsibility for the beheading of an abducted American contractor.
A senior Saudi official in Washington said authorities were continuing to search the outskirts of the capital of Riyadh for the body of the kidnapped American, Paul M. Johnson Jr., an employee of Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. The statement by Adel Jubeir, a foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, contradicted earlier statements by Saudi officials, who said Friday they had already recovered Johnson’s decapitated corpse, pictures of which were posted on the Internet Friday by a group calling itself al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Saudi security forces said the al Qaeda group’s leader, , and three others authorities blamed for recent attacks on Westerners were among those killed in a gun battle Friday in Riyadh.
Images broadcast Saturday on state-run television and an all-news Saudi Arabian satellite channel showed what security officials said was Muqrin’s body. Saudi officials identified the other members of the al Qaeda group who were killed as Faisal bin Abdulrahman Dakheel, Turki bin Fehaid Mutairi and Ibrahim bin Abdullah Duraihem.
In Washington, Jubier said the deaths and the arrest of 12 other members of the group were “a blow to al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia” that had “substantially weakened their organization.”
he Saudi government says the killing of an al-Qaeda leader and three other top militants believed responsible for the beheading of American Paul Johnson is a “major blow” to the group in the kingdom.
Saudi foreign policy adviser, Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington Saturday that al-Qaeda in the Kingdom has been weakend.
“We believe that with this blow to al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia on Friday, we have substantially weakened their organization. We will continue to pursue them with vigor until we eliminate them from our midst,” Jubeir said.
“We are resolved to fight terrorism, those who fund it and those who justify it. We will show no mercy,” he added.
Al-Jubeir also told reporters that the Saudi authorities are still searching for the remains of the American contractor.
In Riyadh, U.S. Ambassador James Oberwetter praised the Saudi government for its work in killing the four militants.
He said the Saudi authorities did all they could to save Johnson and had cooperated closely with U.S. officials.
“Good work is being done by the Saudis, but it will be some time before we achieve a comfort level that the situation has returned to normal,” he said. “We look forward to that day, but it’s some time away.”
For it’s part, the Saudi government has acknowledged that security is still lacking, but says thousands of security personnel are being trained and hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on state-of-the-art equipment to aid law enforcement in its attempt to crackdown on militant groups.
Senior officials at the U.S. embassy agree that security has become the top priority for the Saudi government. However, they say until that security apparatus is completely functional, nowhere in Saudi Arabia is safe for foreigners.