JEDDAH – The family of Abdullah Asiri, the suicide attacker who failed in an attempt to kill Prince Muhammad Bin Naif last Thursday have had their remaining doubts that their son could have been the perpetrator of the act dispelled following the publication of photographs showing the remains of his body in the aftermath of the explosion that killed him.
Local television and newspapers published Wednesday the gruesome images made available by the Ministry of Interior, showing the detached upper part of Abdullah Asiri’s body, his head, shoulders and one arm still intact, with the lower part of his torso a mangled mess of blood and organs.
Another image showed half an exploded foot, intact toes perched on the edge of a carpet, while another observed the fingers of a severed hand dangling through a hole it had pierced in the ceiling.
In interviews with local newspapers published Tuesday Asiri’s parents and sisters had said that they would not believe that Abdullah was responsible for the act until DNA tests proved otherwise, with samples having been taken by authorities from father Hassan Taali’ Asiri and Muhammad, one of Abdullah’s brothers.
One of the ministry photographs, clearly showing Asiri’s face with the torso turned upwards, has now provided conclusive evidence for the suicide bomber’s family.
“I wasn’t certain it was him who had done it until the pictures were shown on television,” Hassan told Okaz Wednesday. “I also heard the telephone call between Prince Muhammad and my son,” he added, in reference to the conversation published Wednesday in which the terms of Asiri’s return to the Kingdom from Yemen were discussed.
Effusive in his praise for the “humanitarian and gallant role” played by Prince Muhammad, Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, Hassan said of the terrorist group behind the act: “They snatched my son from his family and led him on the path to destruction, resulting in him being blown apart while targeting the man responsible for our safety and who is confronting challenges and circumstances with forbearance… this is clear from his telephone call with my son which everyone has heard.”
Excerpts from the telephone call between Prince Muhammad and Asiri prior to his return to the Kingdom and published in Wednesday’s Saudi Gazette, revealed details of the ties between his planned return and the return of a woman – unnamed in the conversation – and her children who had also been hiding out with Al-Qaeda members in Yemen.
That woman was the wife of wanted Saudi militant Saeed Al-Shehri, regarded as the second man in the ranks of Al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula. Known as Umm Yousef after her son by her first husband, she left for Yemen early this year with her two children to join up with Al-Shehri, her third husband, and, in line with Asiri’s telephone conversation with Prince Muhammad, was seeking a safe return for herself and her children to the Kingdom.
Abdul Majeed Mustafa Al-Shehri, a nephew of Umm Yousef, told Okaz of his feelings when he discovered the contents of the Prince’s telephone call: “It was extremely moving to hear him ask after my aunt and her children, and I’m full of love and gratitude towards Prince Muhammad for his interest in their welfare,” Abdul Majeed said.
“It’s just the sort of thing you would expect from a compassionate and humanitarian man like Prince Muhammad, and I hope my aunt returns to her senses and comes back with her children to her family.”
Prince Muhammad Bin Naif himself, speaking for the first time since the publication of his telephone exchange with Abdullah Asiri, told Okaz of how he was sat right next to his would-be killer in a traditional Arab-style seating area when the explosion occurred.
“We were sat shoulder to shoulder, with only an arm-rest separating us,” the Prince told Okaz.