Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Al Qaeda revealed on Thursday the identity of one of the most dangerous women in the organization who was detained by Saudi security forces last February. Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Haylah al Qassir was arrested as part of a group of 113 terrorists for having links to Al Qaeda in Yemen. The arrests were announced last March.
An audiotape attributed to Al Qaeda was released on Thursday in which Saeed al Shehri, a deputy leader within Al Qaeda, called for kidnapping Saudi government officials in revenge for Haylah al Qassir’s arrest that was carried out by the Saudi authorities in Riyadh. Al Qassir is described as one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous women.
Haylah al Qassir played a significant role in handling money issues for the Al Qaeda organization. As a result of her arrest, Al Qaeda in Yemen has lost one of its most important sources of finance. One of the sources that spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat said that the recording in which Saeed al Shehri called for revenge for al Qassir’s arrest represents nothing but its “grief” because Al Qaeda in Yemen has had its funding cut off.
According to information that was approved by the source that spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, before February, Haylah al Qassir tried to transfer around 650,000 [Saudi] Riyals to Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Last September, Saeed al Shehri appeared in a video recording with Yemeni Al Qaeda operative Mohammed al Ghezeli by his side in which he called for Saudis to support him financially. It is assumed that the 650,000 Saudi Riyals did reach Al Qaeda following that video recording at some point between last September and February.
Five months after al Shehri’s video recording in which he called on Saudis to donate to Al Qaeda, the Saudi security forces arrested Haylah al Qassir who is considered one of Al Qaeda’s most important sources of funding.
Despite that the Al Qaeda organization knew the exact date that Haylah al Qassir was arrested by Saudi security forces (Sunday 21 February, 2010), and this was mentioned by al Shehri in the new audio tape, the organization did not issue a statement at the time. Rather, the organization only revealed on Thursday in an audio recording the arrest of Haylah al Qassir, after more than three months since her arrest. According to the source that spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, this reflects the “financial predicament” of Al Qaeda nowadays, especially as Saudi forces were able to arrest Haylah al Qassir, who was one of the most important sources of funding for Al Qaeda in Yemen.
The available information about Haylah al Qassir indicates that she was married to a well-known religious figure in the city of Buraida called Abdul Karim al Humayed (who was arrested by Saudi authorities a while ago). After they divorced, al Qassir married one of al Humayed’s students, Mohammed al Wakil, who was killed during clashes with Saudi security forces on December 29, 2004.
The sources that spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat confirmed that in addition to funding Al Qaeda elements, Haylah al Qassir was also entrusted with the task of accommodating fugitive elements of Al Qaeda.
Last March, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of a terrorist network consisting of 113 elements affiliated to Al Qaeda. At the time, Major General Mansour al Turki explained that the group that was arrested included a woman and she was being interviewed in order to determine her role in the organization and that her family had been informed of her arrest.