Dubai: Al Qaeda on Sunday identified a militant who tried to kill Saudi Arabia`s security chief on Thursday as Abdullah al-Asiri, a wanted suspect who entered Saudi Arabia from Yemen.
A suicide bomber posing as a repentant militant blew himself up in the Jeddah office of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in the first known attack on a member of the Saudi royal family since al Qaeda began a violent campaign in the world`s top oil exporter in 2003.
"The hero martyr on the list of 85 wanted persons Abdullah Hassan Tali` al-Asiri, known as Abul-Khair, managed to enter his palace, pass his guards and blow up a package," said a statement on Islamist websites attributed to the ‘Qaeda Jihad Organisation in the Arab Peninsula’.
The statement suggested Asiri was apparently flown to Jeddah from Najran near the Yemeni border after entering from Yemen to give himself up to the Interior Ministry.
"He managed to get through all the inspections at Najran and Jeddah airports and travelled on his (the prince`s) private jet," it said, accompanied by a picture of Asiri.
It was not possible to verify the statement, which said the Saudi government had a network of spies in Yemen of which the Yemeni government was not aware.
The Saudi and Yemeni branches of al Qaeda merged early this year to form al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. They regrouped in Yemen after a vigorous counter-terrorism campaign led by Prince Mohammed, Deputy Interior Minister, that badly damaged militants in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said Asiri was a 23-year-old Saudi whose brother Ibrahim was also on the wanted list.
Saudi Arabia issued a list of 85 wanted suspects in February and analysts said many of them were in Yemen, including some who had been returned to Saudi Arabia from U.S. detention in Guantanamo Bay and some who had been through a much-vaunted Saudi militant "correction" program.
Saudi officials fear militants are finding refuge in lawless swaths of Yemen, whose security forces are stretched by a tribal revolt in the north and separatist unrest in the south.
Al Arabiya quoted Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi as saying Asiri travelled to Saudi Arabia from the Yemeni region of Mi`rib, stating he wanted to hand himself in.