The War on Terrorism: How Saudi Arabia broke Al-Qaeda’s back

4 mins read

by Khaled Hamoud Alshareef

Nearly 800 Islamist Imams were arrested in a heavily criticized campaign by the west.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or in the Land of the Two Holy Mosquesis the Saudi branch of the global Jihad organization.

It was founded in the late 1990s by Suleiman Al-Awdah’s pupil, Youssef Al-Ayyari, known as “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”, it was a byproduct of the “Awakening” movement in Saudi Arabia, the group launched its activities mainly focusing on recruiting youth.

The Group plotted against the Saudi Government under the pretext of objecting to the American and international role in the liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion and the subsequent American presence in the region. The leading figure behind it all was Abdullah AlHamid.

The “peaceful” sit-ins, that AlHamid led with the political arm of the “Sahwa” movement did not resort to violence on the surface, but the movement’s takfiri speechs and their calls for armed Jihad through the mosques, audio cassettes and books.

The militant arm of the group at the time was Al-Qaeda. Young man from the awakening group Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al-Hudhaif is called by pouring an incendiary substance into a colonel in the General Investigation Department called Saud Al-Shibreen resulting in his death.

The Islamists received the news of the execution of Al-Hudhaif angrily and called him a martyr, and the guest became a symbol for the Islamists. The Islamists accused the Saudi government of opening the “door to bloodshed”.

A group of Al-Qaeda followers were: Riyadh Al-Hajri, Khaled Al-Saeed, Abdul Aziz Al-Mutam, and Musleh Al-Shamrani who stated that he said: “By God, we will not be men if we do not take revenge for (Sheikh Abdullah) .”

The retaliation came in the form of a cowardly terrorist attack on November 13, 1995 by a booby-trapped car weighing 100 kilograms that targeted a compound used by the American Army vinyl company working to train National Guard staff in Riyadh.

As a result of the attack, five Americans, an Indian were killed, and nearly 60 others were wounded. After the Riyadh bombing. In January 1998, the Security Forces arrested a group of armed men equipped with Sager anti-tank missiles in southern Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qaeda wanted to use the missile smuggled from Yemen to target the American consulate in Jeddah during the visit of the Vice President of the United States Al Gore to Saudi Arabia.

According to US and Saudi official sources, Osama bin Laden was behind the plan to target the American consulate in Jeddah, and directed Abdul Rahim Al-Nashiri to lead the operation .

Upon discovering the plot, the Saudi government responded with a swift arrest campaign targeting the Islamists leadership and Imams calling for violence. Nearly 800 Islamist Imams were arrested in a heavily criticized campaign by the west.

The Saudi government was determined to put an end to the extremist group and sent Chief of General Intelligence Prince Turki al-Faisal to Kandahar in Afghanistan to pressure Mullah Omar to hand over Osama bin Laden to the Saudi authorities.

Al-Qaeda admitted in the Voice of Jihad magazine in 2004 that many Islamists who had returned from “Jihad” in Bosnia and Herzegovina were arrested in relation of the missile smuggling case that occurred in January 1998.

A second attempt was made in 1998 to smuggle Strella-2 missiles by Egyptian Islamists via Yemen, they planned to transfer the missiles to Saudi Arabia to shoot down American and Egyptian aircrafts, the Saudi government responded to this plan by arresting 300 Islamists.

Osama bin Laden acknowledged at a press conference in Afghanistan in May 1998 that he had seized the missiles, but he boasted that the missiles that were found were much less than what had not been found.

The founder of the military council of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, Ali Al-Faqsi Al-Ghamdi, blamed the leaders of the Sahwa “Islamic Awakening”.

Al-Faqsi said that “inciting them to violence and charging them with enthusiasm and passionate emotions towards conflict areas in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya, as well as the religious climate in society in the 90s, within a set of reasons, which led him to prison.”

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards official recently admitted that “since then, Iran has been present at the intersection and cooperation with Al-Qaeda in Bosnia, under the cover of the Iranian Red Crescent.”

During an exclusive interview with Iranian television on May 30, 2018, Iranian Judicial Aide Mohammad Javad Larijani revealed that “Iran has facilitated the passage of Al-Qaeda militants who carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York,” according to Al-Arabiya.

The preachers who remained avoided prison, because they were less influential or kept a low profile, kept the awakening soul alive in their minds of their followers when they restored to a less confrontational approach by rebranding themselves and the group.

The Sahwa movement has been renamed the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association abbreviated as Hasm; a Saudi non-governmental human rights association.

Abdullah AlHamid, Salman Alouda and other Sahwa leading figures started to distancing themselves from the usual process of instigation, recruitment and operations. But that’s a story for another day, where I will talk in depth about the Academy of ChangeQatar and Turkey.

Khaled Homoud Alshareef holds PhD in Business and he earned Masters in Philosophy. He often writes about Islamism, Islamist factions and modern Terrorism. He tweets under @0khalodi0.