Captured Al-Qaeda militants confess to massive terror plot


Abdullah Al-Muqrin, one of the militants who were involved in planning the foiled attack on the Abqaiq oil refinery on Feb. 24, 2006, said militants, on the directives of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, carried out the suicide bombing. “Targeting the main oil facilities and areas, such as Ras Tanura and Jubail, was how the idea started,” said Muqrin in confessions aired by Saudi Television late Monday night.

Ras Tanura is the Kingdom’s biggest oil export terminal and Jubail is its biggest industrial complex. Both are located on the Gulf coast. Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil producer and exporter, supplying about seven million barrels per day.

“We started planning (the attack) but were told to wait for direct instructions from Osama Bin Laden. I asked how we would receive a signal from him; I thought he was in some mountains. They said it would take from six to seven months to get his approval,” Muqrin said.

Another suspect, identified as Khaled Al-Kurdi, said the Al-Qaeda leadership in Saudi Arabia told them that the attacks on oil facilities would be tantamount to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

“They said it would be a huge operation, equal to the September strike … and its impact would be on a global level,” Kurdi said in his statement. “They said attacks would affect oil prices,” he added.

Saudi security sources said the two men were involved in providing logistic help to the attackers who tried to storm the Abqaiq oil facility, in which two suicide bombers were killed. Saudi Arabia arrested about 170 suspects after the attacks.

The attack on oil installations was planned to lure US forces into the Kingdom. “It was all about luring in America to intervene, irrespective of the expected high loss of human life or economic damage,” Muqrin said.

The attackers sought “to hammer America,” Kurdi added.

The security guards foiled the Abqaiq terrorist operation when they opened fire on two explosives-laden vehicles that tried to enter the oil complex in eastern Saudi Arabia. The vehicles exploded without damaging the facility.

Muqrin said the attack was meant to embarrass the Kingdom, destabilize oil prices in the United States and ultimately draw in US troops to the country to protect oil facilities so that Al-Qaeda militants could fight them on Saudi soil. A few days after the foiled attack, five militants were killed in gunbattles with security forces. The five included Fahd Faraaj Al-Juwair, leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.

Late last month, police said that they had arrested 172 militants from seven terrorist cells in a monthlong operation, one of the biggest terror sweeps in the country. Saudi Arabia has won international acclaim for its successful campaign against Al-Qaeda militants after they carried out a series of anti-terror operations across the country, killing and arresting many terrorists and sympathizers.

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