Al Qaeda denies plot to target Muslim pilgrims

Yemen-based Al Qaeda denied it would stage any action to coincide with the Haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia after a Saudi minister said such an operation could not be ruled out.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sun 14 Nov 2010, 1:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:12 AM

Just over a week ago, AQAP claimed a plot to mail two parcel bombs to the United States that caused a global security alert. The explosives were intercepted in Dubai and Britain before they could be detonated following a tip-off from Saudi Arabia.

“We are against any crimes against pilgrims ... Haj is a pillar of Islam and we are most eager (not to spill) the blood of Muslims, wherever they may be,” AQAP said in a statement posted on a website often used by militants.

The statement followed remarks last week by the Saudi interior minister in which he suggested Al Qaeda may attack the around two million Muslims who are due to start their pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Asked whether Al Qaeda might stage an attack on the Haj or use the event to try and get fighters from Yemen, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz said: “We cannot rule out any operation but we are ready to foil it.”

Saudi Arabia is worried about infiltration across the 1,500 km -long border it shares with Yemen and which is known for smuggling.

In August 2009, an AQAP suicide bomber tried to kill Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who heads Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism campaign and is a member of the Saudi royal family.

In its statement, the group also condemned the US-Saudi intelligence cooperation that led to the discovery of the parcel bomb plot.

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