Crackdowns in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kenya, Blunted Imminent
Al Qaeda Mega-Terror Offensive: NOTE: All countries affected by this "imminent"
terror offensive are "Non-Integrating" States
DEBKAfile World Exclusive
August 14, 2003
Al Qaeda had fixed on this week to launch its most devastating simultaneous mega-terror offensive since September 11, 2001, in several countries of the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and East Africa. However, sweeping, timely counter-action blunted its impetus.
Revealing this, DEBKAfiles exclusive counter-terror sources name three countries known to have been targeted Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Yemen, where attacks on a scale larger than the Riyadh bombings of May 12 were plotted. Additional countries in al Qaedas sights have not been disclosed. Their authorities are still vigorously hunting cell members of the extremist network. The information reaching DEBKAfile emanates from the interrogations of men taken in the latest crackdowns, especially in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Despite these operations, the large-scale al Qaeda threat is not over. Security authorities in certain Gulf and Mediterranean countries have been placed on the highest alert following the news that extremist groups linked to al Qaeda are poised for a second-strike operation should the first wave fail to take off. This mode of operation was seen in the Riyadh bomb attacks on three residential compounds inhabited mostly by Westerners. When the first terror units given the mission were put to flight by Saudi security forces, a second level hiding in safe houses near the target sites swung into action.
The attacks believed plotted were: shoulder-launched surface-air missile fire directed at passenger planes during takeoff or landing in the targeted countries; the hijacking of airliners for crashing down over city centers; the downing of light planes loaded with explosives over US, British and other Western embassies; the detonation of bomb vehicles or suicide bombers at commercial, shopping or tourist centers.
In East Africa, locations owned or frequented by Israelis would have been under attack.
British Airways had very good reason for indefinitely suspending all its flights to Saudi Arabia on August 13. Several of the airlines planes were to have been seized by terrorists with their passengers and crashed simultaneously over Jeddah, Riyadh and Dahran by kamikaze pilots.
DEBKAfiles counter-terror sources disclose that Saudi, Yemeni and Kenyan security forces mounted extensive sweeps for al Qaeda cells synchronously on Sunday, August 10.
In Yemen and Kenya, a number of American Special Force units took part in the hunt.
According to data we have gleaned, Kenyan security forces in Momabsa barely missed a major breakthrough: the capture of Muhamed Fazoul, the senior al Qaeda operations commander in East Africa who is badly wanted for orchestrating the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam and many terror operations before and since, including the 2002 raids on Israeli targets in the town.
Kenyan security forces surrounded a café in Mombasa where Fazoul was said to be hiding. After several hours, an al Qaeda man came out hurling grenades. He then blew himself up, Under cover of the blast, Fazoul made his escape.
In Saudi Arabia, more than 15 raids were carried out this week in Riyadh, Jeddah
and Dahran, with five Saudi security men and an unknown number of fundamentalists
killed in shootouts. Similar pursuits and armed clashes took place in Sanaa
and near Aden in Yemen.