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Al Qaeda chief vows Saudi revenge

From Caroline Faraj
CNNArabic.com

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The old Saudi security HQ, Riyadh, after last week's bombing.
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(CNN) -- The man believed to be the top al Qaeda operative in Saudi Arabia has threatened to hit Saudi security forces hard after they said they had him cornered with three others.

Abdul Aziz al-Mukrin said Tuesday he would "shake the ground underneath their feet" if the Saudis tried to stop the jihad launched by the terrorist network.

Al-Mukrin denied al Qaeda was responsible for the suicide bombing last week which damaged the old Saudi security headquarters building. Five people were killed and 147 wounded in the blast.

The threats were in an audio file posted on an Arabic-language Web site.

The Saudi government has blamed al Qaeda for the suicide bombing, and on Monday Saudi security forces said they believed they had cornered al-Mukrin and three others in a rural area outside the Saudi capital. (Full story)

Security forces went to Al-Amariya -- about 25 miles northwest of Riyadh -- Sunday on information that four wanted men were hiding in the mountains.

Al-Mukrin is the main liaison between al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Mukrin took over that role from Khaled Ali Haj, who was killed by Saudi police March 15.

Earlier this year, a man on a videotape claiming to be al-Mukrin called on young Saudis to join the jihad, or holy war.

Two of the other three men with al-Mukrin are also believed to be on Saudi authorities' list of men wanted in connection with terror attacks in the kingdom. The original list contained 26 names but arrests, surrenders and deaths have cut the list to 18.

One of the men has been wounded in back-and-forth shooting in the standoff, police said. Journalists at the scene said police vowed they will remain at the site until the wanted men give up or are killed.

After the April 21 attack, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, said his nation was now in "total war" against terrorists. (Full story)

Saudi authorities have been battling domestic Islamic militants since May 2003, when triple suicide bombings at residential compounds housing Westerners in Riyadh killed 23 people.

Then, in November, a car bombing struck a mostly Arab neighborhood near Riyadh's diplomatic quarter, killing at least 17 people.


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