London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Moroccan Younes Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Hayari, the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia who was killed yesterday in clashes with Saudi Security forces in Riyadh, remains an enigmatic and controversial figure.
According to a Saudi security source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that, "the controversy concerning the real nationality of Al Hayari is irrelevant. What we know for sure is that he was a Moroccan national who entered Saudi with a Bosnian passport, the number of which we know. Moroccan security forces knew him well and we had exchanged information about him in the past."
Regarding Al-Hayari”s ranking in al-Qaeda the source said, "Not only was he a high ranking member, but he was also involved in the planning of operations outside of Saudi Arabia. He also saw himself in the same rank as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Abu Anas Al Shamy." The source added that Al Hayari and Al Shamy (who was killed last September in Baghdad by American forces while leading a group of Al Zarqawi”s men) were close friends, and that Al Hayari was involved in organizing terrorist activities inside Saudi Arabia as well as linking it to the international Al-Qaeda network.
When asked to describe the differences between Al-Hayari and his predecessor Abdul Aziz Al Muqrin, the security official said "Al Muqrin was a professional fighter, but he was a not a planner or a real leader. Al Hayari on the other hand, was a strategist who planned the hostage operation in Al-Khobar in May 2004. Al Hayari planned that operation after carrying out months of surveillance of the area. In fact, his newborn daughter was born in Sa”ad hospital in Khobar but was registered under the name of another man who is currently in prison."
Al Hayari”s military ability was displayed on 20 July 2004, when he successfully helped his Al-Qaeda brethren escape the failed operation that took place in the King Fahd district of Riyadh. "During that operation, two members of Al Qaeda”s religious committee Eissa Al ”Awshan and Me”jab Al Dausry were killed and this forced Al Hayari to take an active military role, rather than working behind the scenes," the source added.
The source also stated that Al Hayari possessed what he would describe as "chameleon like qualities" and was able to integrate into Saudi society very effectively. "He was a master of disguise, as you can tell by his wanted photo and he was able to mimic the Saudi persona very well. He also spoke in classical Arabic and not in his traditional Moroccan dialect, which made him sound like an Arabic schoolteacher. It seems that he was shocked by his picture appearing on the 36 most-wanted list, and by the fact that he was spotted in east Riyadh".
According to the source, Al Hayari was spotted in East Riyadh a while
back with fellow terrorist Abdulaziz Al Toweili or "the brother of whoever obeys God" as he was known on fundamentalist web sites. Al Toweili was involved in Al-Qaeda”s media activities as he was the editor of ”Jihad Voice”, the online journal that is considered the mouthpiece of the Saudi Al Qaeda. He was arrested on May 10, 2005.
With regards to whom security officials consider as the most important suspect on the 36 most wanted list after Al Hayari, the source told Asharq Al-Awsat that "Fahd is the second most important in our opinion", referring to 35-year old Fahd Faraj Mohammed Al-Juwari.