Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

No Interpol Red Notice for Al-Qaeda Widow | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-Interpol has raised the number of Saudi nationals served with “Red Notices” to 78. The fugitives are wanted by Saudi or US authorities on a variety of charges, including terrorism.

However the absence of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted woman, Wafa al-Shihri, from the Interpol Red Notice list was also striking. Wafa al-Shihri is the wife of Saeed al-Shihri, deputy commander of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and her absence from this list comes amid news that she has fled-along with her children-to Yemen. For his part, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Mansour al-Turki told Asharq Al-Awsat that Wafa al-Shihri’s absence from this list “is based on our knowledge of her whereabouts” adding “we are coordinating directly with the relevant Yemeni authorities over this issue.” Last week, numerous reports claimed that Al-Qaeda’s no.2 in Yemen, Saeed al-Shihri, had been killed. Saeed al-Shihri, also known as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, was reportedly hit in a US drone strike last October in the southern Yemeni city of Saada. He is said to have died of his injuries.

Al-Shihri had initially been captured in Afghanistan by US forces in 2001 before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was eventually surrendered to Saudi authorities in 2007. Al-Shihri participated in the Munasaha rehabilitation program for extremist ideology before fleeing the country to re-join Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Reports indicate that Wafa al-Shihri fled to Yemen in order to re-join her third husband, Saeed al-Shihri. Wafa-also known as Um Hajer al-Azdi-was classified as the first woman officially listed by the security services as a member of Al-Qaeda. She is the brother of Yussef al-Shihri, whose name was included on the Saudi Interior Ministry’s list of 85 most wanted terrorist suspects. Saeed al-Shihri was Wafa’s third husband, following her first husband Saud al-Qahtani, and her second husband Abdul Rahman al-Ghamdi, himself a senior Al Qaeda member killed in clashes with Saudi security forces in Taif. Al-Qahtani, Wafa’s first husband launched child custody proceedings against his ex-wife, claiming that she is a takfirist who had illegally taken their son to Yemen with al-Shihri in 2009.

Returning to the Interpol list, the statement confirmed that Red Notices have been issued against 46 Saudi nationals for crimes relating to terrorism, 42 for other crimes including counterfeiting and forgery, 9 for financing terrorism, 5 for possessing and using explosives, and 4 for providing logistical support.

The United States Justice Department classifies Interpol Red Notices as “the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today” revealing that “Interpol circulates notices to member countries listing persons who are wanted for extradition. The names of persons listed in the notices are placed on lookout lists (e.g., NCIC or its foreign counterpart). When a person whose name is listed comes to the attention of the police abroad, the country that sought the listing is notified through Interpol and can request either his provisional arrest (if there is urgency) or can file a formal request for extradition.”