Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat –Asharq Al-Awsat has learnt that two fugitives wanted by Saudi security authorities, Saleh Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Suhaibani, aged 19, and Ali Nasser Abdullah Al Arar Asiri, aged 24, have no prior criminal record. A well-informed source described the two outlaws, who are wanted in connection with the recent arrest of two terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia, as “naïve” and undereducated, with neither individual progressing beyond secondary school.
Al-Suhaibani and Asiri were linked with the muezzin [chosen person at a mosque who leads the call to prayer] of the al-Khalil Mosque in Riyadh, whose arrest was announced last week. The Saudi Interior Ministry revealed that the al-Khalil Mosque muezzin, aged 22, “worked on the preparation and testing of chemical explosives”. Saudi authorities reportedly confiscated dangerous chemicals and explosives from an annex of the al-Khalil mosque. Asharq Al-Awsat also learnt that this muezzin possessed no formal education.
This information confirms a previous Asharq Al-Awsat report that revealed that terrorists are seeking to establish a third Al Qaeda branch in the Arabian Peninsula by promoting the jihadist ideology at home in order to destabilize Saudi Arabian national security. The best evidence of this can be seen in the young ages of those arrested, their ignorance of Islamic Sharia law and poor educational backgrounds.
Saudi authorities announced that they had foiled a terror plot on Sunday, breaking up two terror cells in Riyadh and Jeddah and arresting two Saudi citizens and six Yemeni nationals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
The Interior Ministry issued a statement revealed that the suspects were “in contact with the deviant organization abroad”, a term used to refer to the Al Qaeda organization. The statement added “investigations revealed that those elements were at an advanced stage…including preparing explosives and testing them outside of the city of Riyadh” and “recruiting elements to execute criminal attacks targeting security forces, citizens and foreign residents, as well as public installations.”
For his part, Khalid al-Harbi, Imam of the al-Khalil Mosque, confirmed that the mosque’s muezzin had been arrested by security authorities for his affiliated to the Al Qaeda organization.
He informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “I witnessed the seizure of all the items that were in the possession of the suspect when he was arrested” adding that the muezzin’s relations with the mosque’s congregation did not raise any suspicions or concerns. The imam described the muezzin’s behavior as normal, stressing that the suspect did not promote any extremist or deviant ideology in the mosque, and did not manifest any behavior or views that indicated that he believed in such deviant ideology or belonged to any terrorist group.
One of the mosque’s staff, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, described what was happening as “shocking”. He questioned how the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawah and Guidance could allow the appointment of a muezzin who does not possess any academic qualifications.
The al-Khalil Mosque imam stressed the importance of the sanctity of mosques, saying “what is surprising and saddening is for some youths to drift towards such deviant ideology and for the situation to reach the stage where they use mosques as hideouts and tools to terrorize and kill innocent people and tarnish the image of imams and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawa and Guidance.
Asharq Al-Awsat also learnt that the muezzin is 22 years old, unmarried, not involved in any other business or profession and does not own a car.