The US State Department has added a wanted Saudi citizen who serves as a senior al Qaeda leader, trainer, and facilitator in Afghanistan to the list of Specially Designated Global terrorists.
Azzam Abdullah Zureik Al Maulid Al Subhi, a Saudi who is better known as Mansur al Harbi, was added to the list of designated terrorists today. Al Harbi is on Saudi Arabia’s list of 85 most-wanted terrorists that was issued in 2009.
The Saudi Interior Ministry has said that al Harbi works “at a training camp in Afghanistan and is tied to numerous senior al Qaeda leaders including Abdel Aziz Migrin and Saif al Adel.” Migrin headed al Qaeda’s branch in Saudi Arabia and led attacks in the kingdom before he was killed in a firefight with Saudi security forces in June 2004. Saif al Adel is al Qaeda’s second in command and top military strategist, and served as interim leader after Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011.
Al Harbi is a longtime al Qaeda leader, according to State. He “travelled to Afghanistan more than a decade ago to join al Qaeda,” and “is responsible for training militants and for the coordination of foreign fighters who travel to Afghanistan to fight against coalition forces.”
“As a result of his key training position, al Harbi is closely connected to many senior al Qaeda leaders,” State said.
Saudis hold key al Qaeda leadership positions in Afghanistan
Saudis are known to have held senior al Qaeda leadership positions in the remote northeastern Afghan province of Kunar, where al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Taiba maintain a safe haven and run terror training camps.
Five Saudis have been killed by Coalition special operations forces in Kunar since September 2010. In addition, several Pakistani and Afghan members of al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Taiba have been killed in recent airstrikes in Kunar [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda emir for Kunar, deputy, and facilitator killed in airstrikes, for more details].
On July 1, a Saudi known as Hanzallah was killed in an airstrike in the Watahpur district in Kunar. Hanzallah served as a military advisor to “insurgents” in Kunar, Nuristan, and Laghman provinces, and trained fighters in carrying out IED attacks. Hanzallah was not on the Saudi’s most-wanted list.
On May 28, an ISAF airstrike killed Sakhr al Taifi, a Saudi al Qaeda leader who was also known as Musthaq and Nasim, and another unnamed al Qaeda fighter. Al Taifi served as al Qaeda’s second in command in Afghanistan, according to ISAF.
In April 2011, ISAF killed Abu Hafs al Najdi, al Qaeda’s operations chief for Kunar who was wanted by the Saudi government.
And in September 2010, ISAF killed Abdallah Umar al Qurayshi and Sa’ad Mohammad al Shahri. Al Qurayshi was a senior al Qaeda commander who coordinated the attacks of a group of Arab fighters in Kunar and Nuristan provinces and also maintained extensive contacts with al Qaeda facilitators throughout the Middle East. Al Shahri was a longtime jihadist and the son of a retired Saudi colonel.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.