A close call…

[politics filter]

Well, it looks like at least one major terror strike – another one using aircraft as weapons – was narrowly averted. This report from debka:

May 22 Update: Further to the report below, DEBKAfile’s counter terror sources have more exclusive revelations: The three men detained at Jeddah airport Monday May 19 were not Moroccans but Saudi nationals married to Moroccan women and using false passports. The Saudi government is anxious to remove the stigma of aircraft hijackers attached to Saudis since 9/11 – hence the obfuscation over the detainees’ nationality. Final identification of all the remains found on the sites of the May 12 bombings Riyadh jumps the death toll to 60. Nonetheless, the Saudis refuse to budge from the figure of 34.

May 21: The terrorist mega-attack against which security – like the US, Britain, Australia and other western powers – has been on high alert since Tuesday, May 20, almost happened this week.

On Monday, May 19, Saudi authorities detained three Moroccan al Qaeda suspects at Jeddah international airport just as they were preparing to board a Saudi national airlines plane bound for Sudan. While “Saudi security sources” claimed the next day that the men planned to hijack the Saudi plane and crash it over Jeddah, DEBKAfile’s exclusive counter-terror sources reveal that, under interrogation, the suspected al Qaeda terrorists admitted they had intended flying the captive Saudi airliner over Israel and crashing it over an Israeli city.

That first Saudi announcement claimed the suspects carried knives and their last testaments. The Saudis make it a habit never to mention Israel in the context of al Qaeda’s attacks – even one which they thwarted. Then, Wednesday evening, May 21, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef denied there had been any hijack plot. He said two not three Moroccans had been detained in connection with “previous security cases”.

According to DEBKAfile’s sources, neither Saudi version is correct. The terrorists were not just armed with knives but were loaded with explosives, and there were three of them, not two.

The high alert declared in Israel Tuesday also placed the Israeli Air Force on round–the-clock patrol to guard against hijackers reaching Israeli skies to attack Israeli towns.

I’d say that was a close one – and it may be the only major strike that was in the works, so the angel of death may have passed us over this time. (Knock on wood)

Still, keep your eyes open the next few days – there may still be a nasty surprise or two left in the works.

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Published in: on May 23, 2003 at 16:42  Comments Off on A close call…  
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