Riyadh, Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- After the Iraqi security services announced their arrest of Saudi citizen Abdullah Azzam Saleh Misfar al-Qahtani, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia is also looking for a fugitive with a similar name and characteristics. Iraq claims that al-Qahtani is a former Saudi army officer and a senior member in the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq, and that he was planning to carry out a terrorist attack at this year’s World Cup which is set to begin in South Africa in the next few weeks.
Saudi Interior Ministry Security spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki refused to confirm or deny that al-Qahtani had been arrested, telling Asharq Al-Awsat that “the identity of the individual mentioned by the material evidence requires verification, especially as the public information confirms that he has previously impersonated another figure. ”
In his statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Major General al-Turki said that the information available to the Saudi security apparatus “refers to the departure of a Saudi citizen who has a similar name [to this] outside of Saudi Arabia as part of an unessential holiday in the month of Shawwal 1425 (2004) and that his return [to Saudi] has not been recorded until now.”
Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta announced the arrest of the two senior members of the Islamic State of Iraq, which is an umbrella organization of Iraqi insurgent groups, including Al Qaeda. He said that an Algerian and Saudi national had been arrested.
Atta released images of the two alleged Al Qaeda members, and he revealed that al-Qahtani who adopted the nom de guerre “Sinan al-Saudi” [Saudi Arrowhead] is 30 years old and holds a degree in business administration and also graduated from the King Fahd Security College with the rank of lieutenant.
He said “He entered Iraq in 2004 and his current position is security chief for Al Qaeda in Baghdad.” Major General Atta also confirmed that he was planning a terrorist operation in South Africa, and that he has been in contact with Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
He confirmed that al-Qahtani first became involved in terrorism in 2005 in western Iraq, and that he participated in the planning of a series of attacks against Baghdad hotels in January 2010 which resulted in the deaths of 36 people, as well as being involved in the planning of 5 car-bombs that killed 127 people in Baghdad in December 2009.
Atta also revealed that al-Qahtani was previously arrested by the US military in 2007 under the false name Muzawar al-Shammari, and was released last year.
Atta also said that al-Qahtani was coordinating with Al Qaeda governor of Baghdad Manaf al-Rawi to attack certain areas of Baghdad (Karkh and Rasafa) in order to incite sectarian strife and that he had also previously been involved in criminal activities including bank robbing.
As for the other senior Al Qaeda member, Major General Atta revealed that this is Tariq Hassan Abdul Qader who is better known as Abu Yassin al-Jazairi. He was born in 1976 and entered Iraq from Syria in 2005, and he served as the Al Qaeda military chief for Karkh.
Atta said “Before his entry to Iraq he was in Aleppo, and he moved to the Abu Kamal region and he entered a [terrorist] training camp near Karabilah near the Iraq – Syria border.” Major General Atta also said that al-Jazairi was involved in the attack on the Foreign Ministry in 2009 which resulted in hundreds of deaths.
In light of the recent deaths of the former leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, Major General Atta pledged that the reign of the next leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will not last as long.
The Islamic State of Iraq announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was the new Emir of the organization on Sunday. However in light of the arrest of Al Qaeda’s “governor” of Baghdad, Manaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi, who was arrested on 11 March, and the information obtained from him, Major General Atta said “Our information tells us that they are in a state of disarray after the death of their leaders and amid financial problems… but they still have active cells.”
Atta said that Iraq is in complete possession of information about Al Qaeda in Iraq following the arrest of Al Qaeda’s “governor” of Baghdad Manaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi, and that the new Islamic State of Iraq leadership “will fail one after another into the hands of the security forces, and we have information about their true identity.”