RIYADH – The Ministry of Interior confirmed Monday the identity of the suicide bomber who tried to assassinate Prince Muhammed Bin Naif, Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, Thursday as 23-year-old Abdullah Hassan Tali’ Asiri.
The ministry said Asiri was on its list of 85 most wanted militants.
Asiri died in the attack. The Prince suffered slight injuries.
Asiri was reportedly recruited to Al-Qaeda by his brother Ibrahim, known by the alias “Abu Saleh” and also on the list. They entered Yemeni territory together two years ago to join up with members of the terrorist organization. Ibrahim had previously served time in prison but was released.
Abdullah Asiri’s father, meanwhile, said in an interview that he was “shocked” when he found out about his son’s actions, and offered his “utter condemnation of the criminal act” that targeted Prince Muhammad.
A former member of the armed forces now in his seventies, Hassan Taali’ Ahmed Asiri said his son had been “snatched from his family”, adding: “We denounce this despicable act, and we stand right beside our guardians in the face of the enemies of the nation and the Ummah.”
Abdullah Asiri was brought up alongside three brothers in addition to Ibrahim, namely Mohammed, Ahmed and Abdul Rahman, and three sisters, in a pious family in the Al-Jazira district of east Riyadh, the same area that saw the death of wanted man Fahd Samran Al-Sa’idi during an explosion at a house March 18, 2003.
One of Abdullah Asiri’s brothers was killed two years ago when he was hit by a car in Hafr Al-Batin.
Asiri’s father Hassan served in the army for four decades and recalled his last contact with his son Abdullah.
“We were living in Makkah two years ago and were planning to move back to Riyadh, but Abdullah and Ibrahim said they wanted to go to Madina before coming back with us,” Hassan recalled.
“Abdullah later contacted us to say he was out of the country, but didn’t say where, and from that day on we had no more news of him until we saw his and his brother’s pic-tures a few months ago in the media as on the list of wanted people. We had already been visited by security officials to take blood samples from myself and another of my sons for DNA testing.”
Hassan described his son as “pious and in his rectitude a model for others.” Abdullah used to call for prayer at a mosque in the area they were living in and sometimes led the prayer, the father said. “In Ramadan he used to stand at traffic lights before the Iftar and hand out food,” Hassan said. “I’m amazed at how this strange transition in his life could have occurred.”
Upon hearing the news that her son had committed the attempt on Prince Muhammad’s life, his mother, Hassan said, broke down in tears.
It was reported Sunday that an allegedly Al-Qaeda-affiliated website had named the attacker as Abdullah Al-Asiri.
The website, which also provided a photograph of the alleged suicide bomber, claimed that Asiri had flown to Jeddah from Najran on Prince Muhammad’s private jet. Al-Arabiya quoted Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi as saying Asiri traveled to Saudi Arabia from the Yemeni region of Marib.
Responses to Thursday’s attack at the Obhur home of Prince Muhammad have continued to be voiced from all quarters of society, with President of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University Soleiman Bin Abdullah Aba Al-Kheil describing the act as “cowardly and criminal”, prompted by “evil ideas in a dark chain of deviation”.
“We all must be aware of the size of the danger,” Aba Al-Kheil was reported by Saudi Press Agency as saying. “We must all protect the ship of society from sinking by facing up to these criminals who have deviated from society, particularly educational institutes, preaching bodies and the media, to tighten the cord around the purveyor of this form of thought.” – Okaz/SG