Saudi forces kill ISIL explosives expert behind 2016 mosque attack

By Sultan al-Barei in Riyadh


Saudi authorities display explosive belts, ammunition and weapons seized inside the two suspected extremists’ house in a northern Riyadh neighbourhood. [Photo courtesy of Saudi Press Agency]

Saudi security forces recently killed an "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) operative wanted for his involvement in last year's suicide bombing outside the Prophet Muhammad mosque and the 2015 bombing of the special emergency forces mosque in Asir.

Tayeh Salem bin Yaslam al-Sai'ari is one of two extremists killed in a shootout with Saudi police in Riyadh on January 7th.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said al-Sai'ari and an accomplice, Talal bin Samran al-Saidi, were killed after police raided the house where they were staying in the capital's northern Yasmeen neighbourhood.

One police officer was wounded in the operation.

Al-Sai'ari was an expert in making explosive belts, manufacturing explosives and training terrorists on how to use them, al-Turki said.

"Two suicide vests, two automatic rifles and a homemade grenade were found in the possession of the two individuals, as well as two small basins containing chemical substances suspected of being used in the manufacture of explosives," he said.

A blow to terrorists

The security operation was "one of the most successful" in Saudi Arabia, according to Maj. Jamal al-Nukhaifi of the Saudi police.

Detailed intelligence and tips provided by citizens enabled security forces to track, surround and kill the suspects, he told Al-Mashareq.

Residents began to suspect them after they started seeing two veiled women entering or leaving the house, he said. Investigations revealed that the two suspects had been dressing up as women "to conceal themselves and move about freely".

The raid was carried out with extreme professionalism, as reflected in the isolation of the target house and evacuation of citizens living in adjacent and nearby homes out of concern for their safety, al-Nukhaifi said.

"The operation demonstrates once again the high degree of readiness of Saudi security forces, especially with respect to surveillance and search operations," said retired Saudi army officer and military attaché Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Shehri.

The operation "delivers a blow to the cluster hierarchy of the terrorists in the kingdom, especially that al-Sai'ari was a key player in terrorist operations since he made explosive belts and explosives, and trained people on how to use them", he said.

"These cells that act according to a certain hierarchy will find themselves facing a major obstacle after the breakup of the chain and the loss of a key and essential element," al-Shehri said.

Brainwashing youth

Al-Sai'ari was recruited by ISIL abroad when he was a scholarship student in New Zealand where he majored in engineering, said Fadel al-Hindi, a supervisor at the King Abdulaziz University Centre for Social and Humanities Research.

He traveled to Syria to join ISIL, and later made his way back to the kingdom through Turkey, Sudan and Yemen using forged documents, he told Al-Mashareq.

Investigations have revealed that "he was subjected to heavy brainwashing that caused him to leave school and become a terrorist", he said, adding that "even his father’s pleas when he informed him that he is fighting in Syria, did not dissuade him from his decision".

Al-Sai'ari's accomplice, al-Saidi, was previously detained for a period of eight years for joining terrorist groups in Iraq, but was later released after serving his prison term.

"The problem lies in the way these youth are being brainwashed and turned into ticking time bombs," al-Hindi said.

"Terrorist groups brainwash the minds of the youth with false Sharia facts to persuade them that what they are doing is right and that anyone who opposes their views is a kafir (unbeliever)," he said.

Al-Sai'ari’s parents played a major role in uncovering him, as his father had previously reported him and his brother about a year ago for subscribing to extremist ideology, he said.

"His brother fled the kingdom to Yemen after he was added to the most wanted list by the security authorities," al-Hindi said.

Their family refused to accept condolences for their son’s death, "an unusual step that is only taken in cases where the deceased had committed a heinous act against others that is disapproved by his parents and relatives", al-Hindi said.

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It is very good. Terrorists must be destroyed.