This Saturday evening, Al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement claiming the assassination attempt on Muhammad Bin Nayif (hat tip: Evan). See here for an automatic translation. By the way, Michael Dunn has a good roundup of Saudi media reports on the attack.
The statement identified the attacker as “Abu al-Khayr” alias Abdallah Hasan Tali’ Asiri, a Saudi national who was number 40 on the list of 85 wanted militants issued on 3 February 2009. The statement includes a picture of Asiri, who looks very young indeed. I don’t know much about him except the obvious, ie that he or is family is originally from the south, and that he is not a Guantanamo alumnus.
The statement says the operation was the result of “unique intelligence work”, and it insinuates that Asiri flew from Najran (near the Saudi-Yemen border) to Jidda to carry out the operation. This suggests that he may have been dispatched from QAP headquarters in Yemen.
If this is the case, I am somewhat relieved, because it would mean that a) the firepower of QAP HQ is smaller than I feared, and b) there still isn’t a significant organisation inside the Kingdom proper. But then again, the statement may be a deliberate attempt to deceive.
By the way the declaration also says the organization has uncovered a network of Saudi spies in Yemen operating without the knowledge of Yemeni authorities. More “interesting details” are to follow, the statement says. Let’s just hope we don’t have an Iraq-style “captured spy” scenario.