Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran has been coordinating with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates since 2007 with the aim of carrying out terror attacks against US targets in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, informed sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, the sources said coordination between Iran and the global terrorist organization was mainly taking place through Saudi citizen Saleh Al-Qarawi, a senior member of the organization who is on the Kingdom’s most-wanted lists and is the founder of Al-Qaeda affiliate the Abdullah Al-Azzam Brigades.
The sources contend Qarawi is the main Al-Qaeda figure coordinating operations from inside Iran, where they say he has been moving freely for a number of years and from where he has been recruiting other Saudi citizens for the organization and coordinating their movement into Iran from the Kingdom.
Along with Abdul Mohsen Al-Sharikh, another senior Saudi member of the organization—and also on the Kingdom’s most-wanted lists—the sources accuse Qarawi of planning a terror attack in Saudi Arabia aiming to abduct US citizens residing in the country.
The plan eventually failed but the sources say Qarawi and Iran have been coordinating on several other operations, including a planned attack in 2007 against a US army base in Jordan which was foiled by the Jordanian authorities.
Qarawi and Iran have also coordinated on another failed operation, the sources said, which planned to attack the US embassy in Dubai using either a drone aircraft loaded with missiles and bombs or by having a pilot fly a small aircraft used for flight instruction into the embassy building.
The sources said Qarawi was behind other failed operations including one to bomb a Japanese oil tanker crossing the Strait of Hormuz in 2010 and planned attacks on London’s Heathrow Airport.
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have claimed responsibility for several terror attacks on the Kingdom in recent years including a 2003 suicide bomb attack targeting residential compounds—mainly housing foreigners—in the capital Riyadh which killed 17 people and injured over 100.