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Homeland Security


Saudi Officials Detain Riyadh Bombing 'Mastermind'
VOA News
27 Jun 2003, 12:52 UTC

Saudi officials say they have detained the suspected mastermind of the May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh that killed 35 people.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef says the suspect, Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, surrendered to police Thursday after dawn prayers in the city of Jeddah.

U.S. officials say Mr. Ghamdi, also known as Abu Bakr, is al-Qaida's most senior operative in Saudi Arabia, and that his arrest is a major blow to the terrorist network.

Officials speaking on condition of anonymity say in late 2001, Mr. Ghamdi was at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, the mountain cave complex where al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was believed to be hiding.

U.S. and Saudi authorities blame al-Qaida for the May 12 attacks, which ripped through three compounds housing mostly Westerners in the Saudi capital. Nine Americans died as a result of the blasts, which also killed nine suicide bombers.

Mr. Ghamdi's surrender comes as Saudi authorities continue to crack down on Islamic militants. The Saudi newspaper Okaz quotes Prince Nayef Friday as urging all terror suspects still at large to surrender.

He said Saudi authorities have already arrested close to 50 suspects since the Riyadh bombings.

On Thursday, the paper reported that security forces had arrested three men carrying maps of vital government installations.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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