Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Saudi Interior Ministry’s list of 85 most wanted suspects being sought abroad has been reduced to just 80 suspects, after the Interior Ministry announced yesterday that one of the suspects on the list had handed himself into the authorities. The suspect is 36-year old Fawwaz al-Otaibi, and information indicates that he has been a member of Al Qaeda in Iran for over a year.
Fawwaz al-Otaibi is the fourth suspect from the list of 85 to surrender himself to the Saudi authorities. The families of these 4 suspects all played a significant role in convincing their children to leave the ranks of Al Qaeda and return to Saudi Arabia.
A statement issued by the Saudi Interior Ministry yesterday announced that al-Otaibi had surrendered himself to the government. The statement went on to say that this surrender “had taken place with the assistance of his family who contacted him and expressed their desire to help him to return home. The family arranged and facilitated this return, and he was reunited with them as soon as he arrived in Saudi Arabia. He was also permitted to perform the Umrah on Tuesday evening, the eleventh day of the Holy month of Ramadan.
This announcement came less than a week after Al Qaeda attempted to exploit the Interior Ministry’s open-door policy to militants wishing to repent and surrender themselves. This resulted in the failed assassination attempt on the life of Assistant Minister of the Interior for Security Affairs, Prince Mohammed Bin Naif.
Security spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, Major General Mansour al-Turki informed Asharq Al-Awsat that following this attack, [Interior Ministry] officials do not assume that all those wishing to surrender themselves have “bad intentions.”
General al-Turki also revealed that the Saudi Arabian security authorities had provided Fawwaz al-Otaibi and his family with special accommodation, where he was able to receive visitors, as well as perform the Umrah with his family.
The Interior Ministry’s security spokesman also told Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Otaibi would be treated in accordance with the procedures in place for such cases [where a suspect surrenders himself to the authorities]. General al-Turki said al-Otaibi handing himself into the authorities would be taken into consideration when deciding his fate.
Major General Mansour Al-Turki also renewed the Interior Ministry’s invitation to the suspects to repent the ideology that has led them astray and surrender themselves to the authorities, and that this would be taken into consideration by the court.
According to information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, Fawwaz al-Otaibi is suspected by the Saudi authorities of being a member of Al Qaeda, and departing Saudi Arabia to join the Al Qaeda ranks in Iran.
Information indicates that al-Otaibi was last seen in Iran, having arrived there via the UAE in late August or early September of last year. Al-Otaibi is one of 35 suspects on the list of 85 who were last seen either on Iranian soil, or in the Pakistani – Afghan – Iranian triangle.
Al Qaeda members in Iran are reputedly led by Salah al-Qar’awi AKA Nijm. According to information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, the Al Qaeda members in Iran are reportedly planning to attack Saudi Arabian or Jordanian interests, and some of these members are planning to return to Saudi Arabia in order to undertake these operations personally. Other Al Qaeda members present in Iran are planning to join the new group of [Al Qaeda] fighters who are present in Yemen.