New details reveal the man who tried to assassinate a Saudi prince got past palace security with explosives hidden in his rectum.
The man who tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror chief last Thursday managed to get past security in a Jeddah palace by hiding explosives in his rectum.
Details of the assassination attempt, the first against a member of the Saudi royal family in decades, were revealed to the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyya.
The method of hiding explosives inside the body is unprecedented among Al-Qa’ida terrorists, and may draw a re-examination and alteration of security arrangements around sensitive facilities and individuals in the Saudi kingdom.
The man targeted, Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, is assistant to the Interior Minister for Security Affairs, and is spearheading the fight against terrorism.
The assailant called the Ministry of Interior and asked to declare his repentance in front of the prince and make a statement urging his peers to abandon Al-Qa’ida’s ideologies.
On Thursday evening, he went to the prince’s palace in the coastal town of Jeddah and sailed through the security checks with the undetected explosives inside him.
When the prince was informed of his arrival, he walked into a six-by-seven-meter long room next to his office in the palace to greet the man he thought would be a remorseful terrorist.
The terrorist came to the entrance of the room and the prince moved towards the door to usher him in. He greeted him and invited him to sit down on one of the sofas, while the prince himself sat on another sofa no more than two meters away from where the bomber was located.
The prince got a call on his cell phone and began talking, and at that moment the bomber detonated the explosives. His body was torn apart and, according to the report, only divine intervention saved the prince from sustaining more severe wounds.
The prince was wounded lightly in his arm and under his eyes and spent several hours in hospital before he was discharged.
Explosives experts say the prince’s survival was "miraculous," given his proximity to the explosives. The explosives had a vertical direction of expansion.
Eyewitnesses said there were body parts and blood all over the room after the bombing took place, except for the area where the prince was seated. The furniture in the room rose into the air with the explosion and is being examined by forensic experts.
The bomber belonged to an affiliate of Al-Qa’ida operating in Yemen and was on Saudi Arabia’s list of 85 most wanted terrorists. He infiltrated Saudi Arabia from Mareb, east of the Yemeni capital, raising concerns that instability in the neighboring Yemen is allowing Al-Qa’ida to carry out cross-border attacks in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior has said the incident would not change its standing appeal on suspected terrorists to repent.
In January, Al-Qa’ida announced that the Saudi and Yemeni branches of the international terrorist organization were merging, in what was widely seen as an attempt to restore the organization following a vigorous Saudi anti-terrorism campaign.
Saudi Arabia has been fighting a home-grown terrorist threat since 2003.
Groups belonging to, or inspired by the international Al-Qa’ida, are trying to undermine the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which has faced criticism because of its alliance with the West and especially with the United States.
The country has arrested and tried thousands of terror suspects and is trying to weed out extremist elements planning terror attacks, recruiting operatives or spreading extremist ideology through the internet.
Security around oil installations in the petroleum-rich kingdom has been strengthened in the wake of the attack. Guards at the Al-Buqeiq oil processing plant, in eastern Saudi Arabia, told Reuters they were instructed to tighten security measures and check vehicles at all the gates and inspect all incomers, including employees of the state oil company Aramco.