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Al Qaeda Sought to Replicate 9/11 Attack in 2003 Riyadh Bombings | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Information received by Asharq Al-Awsat, and published for the first time, reveals that 105 people had a hand in the infamous 12 May 2003 Riyadh compound terrorist attacks which resulted in the deaths of 27 people of different nationalities; including 9 US citizens and 7 Saudi Arabians, and which also wounded 160 others.

The information received by Asharq Al-Awsat reveal that 24 Al Qaeda fighters took part in the attacks on three residential compounds in Riyadh; the Dorrat a Jadawel compound, the al Hamra Oasis Village compound, and the Vinell compound, while 81 others were implicated in planning or providing finance for these attacks. The information also said that 1 of the 24 Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the Riyadh compounds managed to escape with his life, while the remaining 23 others died in this suicide attack.

The information received by Asharq Al-Awsat claims that Al Qaeda sought to simulate the deadly September 11 attacks via the Riyadh compound bombings with regards to attacking numerous targets and synchronizing the timings of the attacks. According to this information, the order to carry out these attacks came from within Iran, and was given by senior Al Qaeda member Sayf al-Adl, who was residing in Iran at the time. The information says that Sayf al-Adl gave the order to attack to Al Qaeda fighter Turki al-Dandani, and that this occurred during an encrypted telephone call between the two men which was picked up by the relevant [Saudi] authorities.

The information also reveals that Al-Dandani – who killed himself in a suicide attack on 3 July 2003 in Al Jawf province, less than two months after the Riyadh compound bombings – received an encrypted communiqué to begin Al Qaeda operations on Saudi soil around two months before the attack.

The Saudi authorities previously said that 16 terrorists were responsible for carrying out the Riyadh compound bombings, revealing the names of 14 of these terrorists. However new information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat state that following examinations of unidentified bodies found at the scene, and after a complete investigation into the attacks, the number of those responsible for these attacks has raised from 16 to 24. The authorities have identified all 24 terrorists responsible for the Riyadh compound bombing; 23 of whom died in the attack while 1 managed to escape with his life.

Information reveals that this terrorist, who is known as perpetrator 24, was not killed in the Riyadh compound bombings, and was able to flee with his life, although he is now in custody.

The operation behind revealing the existence of a twenty-fourth attacker took place after [Saudi] security officials were carrying out a routine survey of the scene of the crime at the al Hamra Oasis compound in eastern Riyadh. The security apparatus was attempting to gather evidence and information with regards to who was responsible for the attacks when security officials found a Kalashnikov rifle propped up against a wall at the al Hamra Oasis compound. According to the information given to Asharq Al-Awsat, this weapon was discovered with the rifle butt in the air, and was propped up against the wall in such a way that it was clear that the rifle was used by somebody fleeing the scene of the crime to climb the wall.

The information revealed that the identity of this attacker, later dubbed perpetrator 24, was discovered after the weapon he used was forensically examined, and following an investigation by the competent authorities which resulted in perpetrator 24 being arrested in Jeddah just months after the Riyadh compound bombings.

Against this backdrop, 82 individuals were found guilty of being involved in the planning of the Riyadh compound bombings, including perpetrator 24. Information also revealed that Al Qaeda members Khaled al-Haj of Yemen – who was killed on 15 March 2004 – and Turki al-Dandani of Saudi Arabia – killed just months after the Riyadh compound bombings – were primarily responsible for the three attacks that took place on 12 May 2003.

The information received by Asharq Al-Awsat attributes the haste in which the Riyadh compound bombings terrorist operation was carried out to a belief that the Saudi security apparatus was closing in. This was after an explosion took place on 15 March 2004 in the southern neighborhood of al-Jazeera in Riyadh which resulted in the death of Al Qaeda member Fahd Samran al-Sa’idi. This explosion, less than two months prior to the Riyadh compound bombings, resulted in the Saudi authorities discovering the presence of this Al Qaeda safe-house, which resulted in Al Qaeda fearing that their plans were about to be discovered, and so the order to carry out the Riyadh compound bombings was given for 12 May 2003.