Captured al-Qaida militants told that last year's foiled suicide attack on the world's largest oil processing facility was part of a plot to strike oil installations in an attempt to draw U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia so militants could fight them here.
Four alleged members of an al-Qaida terror cell arrested following the Feb. 2006 attack on the Abqaiq oil complex appeared Monday night on two Saudi television stations, saying their attack was endorsed by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
The four are accused of helping the two suicide bombers, who were killed by Saudi guards, with logistics for the attack. The security guards foiled the attack when they opened fire on two explosives-laden vehicles that tried to enter the Abqaiq oil complex in eastern Saudi Arabia. The vehicles exploded without damaging the facility.
Abdullah al-Muqrin, one of the four, said the attack meant to embarrass the kingdom, destabilize oil prices in the United States and ultimately draw in U.S. troops to the country to protect oil facilities so that al-Qaida militants could fight them on Saudi soil.
"It was all about luring in America to intervene, irrespective of the expected high loss of human life or the economic damage," al-Muqrin said.
Khaled al-Kurdi, another alleged al-Qaida member, said the attackers sought "to hammer America."
Al-Muqrin said he was told the attack would be "authorized only by bin Laden himself." He was told al-Qaida was preparing for "something great, a huge operation, similar to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks," al-Murqin said.
A few days after the foiled attack, five militants were killed during Saudi police raids, including Fahd Faraaj al-Juwair leader of al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia and known as a longtime extremist who lost two brothers in clashes with Saudi forces in 2004.
Al-Muqrin said that al-Qaida had been also planning attacks on oil installations in Kuwait and the Untied Arab Emirates in response to bin Laden's 2004 edict to followers to attack oil installations and stop the flow of oil to the United States.
Saudi police late last month said they arrested 172 Islamic militants from seven terror cells in a monthslong roundup that was one of the biggest terror sweeps here. Riyadh in 2003 began a wide offensive against extremists, after attacks on foreigners and others involved in the country's oil industry by those seeking to topple the monarchy because of its alliance with the U.S.