Asharq Al-Awsat, Riyadh- Located 70km south of the Saudi capital, al Kharj is the largest governorate of the Riyadh region and the launch pad for terrorist attacks in the Kingdom. In January 2003, the first terrorist struck in al Kharj when he threatened the employee of a fast food restaurant and set the restaurant on fire, causing material damage, before fleeing the scene.
In June that year, Saudi security forces discovered a bag containing 132 bars of highly explosive material at the home of an al Kharj imam. A day earlier, the Interior Ministry had published the names of suicide bombers who blew up the al Hamra compound in eastern Riyadh.
On 21 July 2005, the authorities raided a militant hideout in a residential neighborhood in al Kharj which was used to launch terrorist attacks and store explosives, bomb making and communication equipment.
In a statement issued at the time, the Interior Ministry indicated that militants “used the hideout to kill and destroy and to store dangerous material without nay regard to the neighborhood residents.”
Security forces discovered a weapons cache four days later in which they found 96 bags of ammonium nitrate, which is mixed with other substances to make explosives. Last week, another storage facility was uncovered nearby by Saudi police.
Four terrorists on the country’s list of 36 most- wanted were last seen in al Kharj. Zaid al Samari, whose name is third on the list, resided in the governorate before he was killed by the security forces earlier this year.
The city of al Majmaah, 180km north of Riyadh, where Bedouins live side by side with city dwellers, has not witnessed any security incidents.
However, Hamd al Humaydi, a senior al Qaeda ideologue in the Kingdom, arrested followed security clashes in the northern town of al Ras, in April 2005, previously lived in al Majmaah. His name had appeared on the first list of most-wanted militants published by the Saudi authorities.
Al Humaydi later moved to nearby city of al Zulfi where he set up a militant base in the al Muhajireen neighborhood.