RIYADH – Security authorities have foiled a fourth assassination attempt against Prince Muhammad Bin Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, which was being carried out late last year, security sources disclosed to Okaz/Saudi Gazette Sunday.
Prince Muhammad had earlier survived three assassination attempts – one of which coincided with this day in Ramadan last year and took at his palace in Jeddah when a terrorist, Abdullah Asiri, detonated an explosive capsule inside his body. The blast killed Asiri and slightly injured Prince Muhammad.
Two Al-Qaeda terrorists, Yusuf Al-Shehri and Raed Al-Harbi, who were armed with explosive belts, were involved in the fourth attempt, which was to have taken place several months after the attempt at the palace, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned.
The terrorists were confronted by security men at Hamra Al-Darb checkpoint, located in the southwest part of the Kingdom, and killed in a shootout at the scene.
The first attempt, which took place in 2004, involved a bomb-laden vehicle that was used to target the Ministry of Interior building in Riyadh. In the second attempt, which took place in Yemen, a missile was fired at Prince Muhammad Bin Naif’s plane and the pilot was successful in taking evasive action.
After Asiri’s attack, which took place on the 6th of Ramadan 1430H, August 27, 2009, terrorists formulated plans for the fourth attempt, according to sources.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned from sources that Al-Shehri and Al-Harbi were involved in that plot.
After they were killed in the confrontation at Hamra Al-Darb checkpoint on Oct. 13, 2009, an investigation revealed that they were carrying four explosive belts from Yemeni territories to the Kingdom, sources said.
This took place at a time when the terrorist organization, acting on orders from an Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, had psychologically prepared two terrorists in the Kingdom to carry out the fourth attempt against Prince Muhammad Bin Naif’s life, according to sources.
Information about that plot was uncovered by security authorities after Al-Shehri and Al-Harbi were killed and security forces found the explosive belts. Each man was wearing one belt and two more were found in their car, according to sources, who confirmed that the belts were to have been used in the assassination attempt.
Sources said the plan was uncovered after the arrest of 113 militants in several regions of the Kingdom, which was announced by the Ministry of Interior in a statement it issued on March 24, 2010.
Two suicide bombers who were recruited by Al-Qaeda to assassinate Prince Muhammad are among those being held, sources said.
The assassination attempt against Prince Muhammad last August was widely condemned at local, Gulf, regional and international levels.
Experts said Prince Muhammad has established an effective security presence and takes a wise approach in dealing with difficult security issues, foremost of which is terrorism. He is considered to be one of the most skillful commanders who are fighting terrorism – not only at the local or regional level, but at the international level, they added.
He has earned the respect of his counterparts throughout the world through his efficiency in dealing with terrorism in the Kingdom, to the extent that he forced elements of the terrorist organization to flee to Yemen after he built security agencies that can confront terrorism and launch attacks against terrorists, experts said.
Experts who confirmed the great success achieved by the security agencies in confronting terrorism said Prince Muhammad Bin Naif is distinguished for working on several fronts to confront terrorism, striking the terrorist cells in confrontations and dealing humanely with detainees, especially those who voluntarily surrendered. He has also dealt kindly with the families of these detainees.
Prince Muhammad has also been skillful in external security coordination and prevented numerous terrorist attacks, experts said.
In a telephone conversation with Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Dr. Mustafa Al-Ani, vice president of the Gulf Research Center, said the Kingdom has record successes in dealing with terrorism.
Saudi security forces defeated Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the field and forced its members to flee to Yemen, where they benefit from that country’s circumstances, he said.
Dr. Al-Ani said several factors, including those relating to security activities and social attitudes, have led to the terrorist organization being much less of a threat in the Kingdom than it was in its earlier days.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Qabba’, a political expert, said security forces’ accomplishments in striking Al-Qaeda and defeating it are attributable to several factors, foremost of which is Prince Muhammad Bin Naif’s leadership and experience.
He said the rulers’ confidence in Prince Muhammad and their absolute support has made him a respected figure in circles in which there is talk about terrorism and its outcomes.
“The youthful prince, with his shrewdness, vision, bravery and challenge has been able to build security agencies that are capable and efficient in confronting the challenges of terror and to uncover its cells in many places,” he said. “This is a huge task.” – Okaz/SG