Saudi al-Qaeda leader killed in Monday clashes

The leader of the al-Qaeda network in Saudi Arabia, Fahd bin Faraj al-Joweir, was among five militants killed in a shootout in Riyadh on Monday, the Saudi interior ministry announced.

“Joweir (36) … had taken charge of the criminal cells,” after other leading members were eliminated by security forces, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency on Tuesday.

He had participated in last week’s foiled attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq, in the kingdom’s eastern oil fields.

Another two of the five slain militants also appeared on a list of 36 most-wanted suspects, the statement added.

Ibrahim bin Abdullah al-Motair (22) and Abdullah bin Mohaya al-Shimari (25) were respectively numbers 11 and 15 on the list released last June.

Joweir himself figured at number two on the list, following Moroccan Younis al-Hayari — the militant network’s late commander for the Arabian Peninsula who was killed in a shootout in Riyadh on July 3.

A fourth militant who was killed in Monday’s clash in the al-Yarmuk quarter of Riyadh was named as Jaffal bin Rafie al-Shimari (28). The identity of the fifth militant was not revealed.

The two Shimaris had also taken part in Friday’s attack in Abqaiq in which two security men and two militants were killed.

Nineteen on the 36-strong list of most-wanted al-Qaeda suspects remain at large. Authorities said when the list was released last June that 21 of those named were believed to be outside the country.

At least 90 civilians, 54 security personnel and 130 militants have died since the unrest began in May 2003, according to the last official tally. Hundreds more have been wounded. – AFP

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