A Saudi leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has urged sympathizers in the Saudi security forces to kill Christians living in the kingdom, in an audio message released to the media. The purported audiotape, posted on a website used by Islamists, also repeated an often-made call to overthrow the Saudi government and called for attacks on Israel. "Those of you who work in guarding the tyrants of princes or ministers, or the compounds inhabited by Christians, or can reach them, should seek God's help and kill them," said AQAP's number two, Said Al-Shihri. Shihri, a former inmate of the US military detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, claimed that AQAP has received correspondence from members of Saudi armed forces asking for "guidance”.


He urged the Al-Qaeda followers, however, to make sure that they avoid killing Muslims “by mistake during their attacks”. "Fear God with regards to Muslims' blood... even if that was a reason to postpone your attack," he said. Shihri also urged any followers in the armed forces to attack Israel from the northwestern tip of Saudi Arabia on the Gulf of Aqaba, across the water from the Israeli resort of Eilat.


Carry your arms against Israel, which is only few kilometers away from you, whose lights you can see (at night) from the city of Haql," he said. "Whoever among you is a pilot should seek martyrdom in the skies of Palestine, and who works in the navy should aim his weapon at the Jews there," he added. Shihri called for forming cells within the armed and security forces to recruit sympathizers "to make the toppling of Al-Saud easier.


In June, Shihri urged Al-Qaeda supporters in Saudi Arabia to kidnap princes and Christians in order to secure the release of militants, including female "preacher" Heila Al-Qsayer, a widow of a Saudi Al-Qaeda militant killed six years ago by the Saudi authorities. Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia launched a deadly wave of attacks against Westerners and government installations in 2003, but has been dealt severe blows by the authorities, forcing them eventually to regroup in Yemen.


August 12, 2010



Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


The call by the Al Qaeda leader is not new per se, but it carries important distinctions to previous calls and therefore an increased overall risk. This is because it comes at the time when Saudi’s fatwa issuance has become regulated and therefore such extremist calls may find sympathetic ears within the traditionalist / Jihadist camp.


He identifies members of the Saudi royal family and Christian civilians in the kingdom as targets. This is significant in that it calls for avoiding killing of Muslims, therefore almost ruling out the possibility of suicide or bomb attacks in shopping malls or hotels, where there may be Muslims as well, but making expatriate residential compounds prime targets.


However, the most serious part is a renewal of the call to attack Israel from northern Saudi. This may or may not be connected to the recent attack that hit Eilat and Aqaba earlier in the month, but if it becomes a trend and the call heeded, which is not unlikely. If this happens, it could create serious problems for the kingdom’s stability, particularly given the high youth unemployment.