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Saudis acknowledge their role in foiling parcel-bomb plot

By the CNN Wire Staff
An al Qaeda group claims responsibility for the plot to send explosive devices on cargo planes bound for the U.S.
An al Qaeda group claims responsibility for the plot to send explosive devices on cargo planes bound for the U.S.
  • Saudi Prince Khalid al Faisal's remarks are first official confirmation by Saudi official
  • "That information came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"
  • Yemen-based al Qaeda group denies it would target pilgrims to Mecca

Mecca, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Saudi Prince Khalid al Faisal acknowledged Thursday that Saudi Arabia alerted U.S. and European authorities to the presence of parcel bombs that were en route from Yemen.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is targeted" by terrorists, he told CNN's Nima Elbagir in the first public Saudi confirmation of the role of Saudi intelligence in thwarting the attempted bombings for which the Yemen-based arm of al Qaeda has claimed responsibility.

"The kingdom has managed to overcome this through preemptive confrontation, and we saw evidence of that recently in our warning of the United States and Europe of the parcel bombs that were on their way to them," he said. "That information came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Last week, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued what the organization described as an "explanatory statement" addressed to the Muslim nation denying that it planned to carry out any terrorist acts against Muslims making the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

It was issued in response to comments by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz that he could not rule out the possibility that al Qaeda might try to sabotage the hajj. The minister's remarks were reported by the Guardian Unlimited.

"The Hajj is a main pillar of the pillars of Islam," the al Qaeda group's statement said. "We, the mujahedeen, are extremely keen on protecting and preserving the blood of Muslims everywhere and especially in Mecca because it holds more sanctity than any other place and let everyone remember that we only joined this movement to defend Muslims, apply God's rule on Earth and lift the injustice imposed on Muslims," said the statement, which was dated November 10.

The statement then accused Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, of being the real terrorist.

"We assure the Muslim nation that we are against any criminal act committed against the pilgrims of the Holy site, and we warn our Muslim nation of the implementation of the plan of God's enemy Petraeus, which aims to detonate bombs in public markets, mosques, and houses of worship in order to discredit the jihadi movement."

It added that the Saudi warning about the parcel bombs "confirms the full cooperation and collaboration of the Saudi regime with the Americans and Jews and their utmost loyalty to them."

AQAP, which also blamed Iran for violence, has claimed responsibility for the plot -- which surfaced October 29 -- to send explosive devices on cargo planes bound for the United States. The group posted its claim on various radical Islamist websites, saying, "We will continue to strike blows against American interests and the interest of America's allies."

Faisal, who is fifth in line to the throne, with oversight of the Mecca region and Islamic holy sites, made his remarks on the final day of the pilgrimage, which authorities believe attracted a record of nearly 4 million this year.

Though efforts are under way to expand the city's capacity to host pilgrims, Faisal predicted the total number will have to be capped.