CAIRO, Egypt – The Al Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia confirmed Saturday that its leader, Abid al-Aziz al-Muqran (search), and three other militants were killed in a shootout with Saudi forces in Riyadh the night before.
The cell also vowed to continue its holy war. The group, calling itself Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks targeting Westerners, including the kidnapping and Friday beheading of American Paul M. Johnson Jr. (search)
In a statement posted on an Islamic Web site, the group said al-Muqran and three other group members were killed "when the soldiers of the tyrants (the Saudi government) set up a trap for them ... Suddenly they began shooting gunfire at the mujahedeen using different kinds of weapons, leading to their killing."
The statement identified the other three militants as Faisal Abdul-Rahman al-Dikheel, Turki bin Fuheid al-Muteiry and Ibrahim bin Abdullah al-Dreiham, the same names the Saudi government previously announced.
"The mujahedeen are continuing the jihad that they have pledged to God and the killing of their brothers will not weaken their resolve but only increase their determination and commitment," the statement said.
Adel al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah (search) in Washington, said al-Dikheel was believed to be the No. 2 Al Qaeda militant in Saudi Arabia, "working closely and immediately under al-Muqran."
The Al Qaeda (search) statement praised al-Muqran, 31, who fought in Afghanistan, for continuing his fight even when he was being hunted by officials and said he had trained "sincere men of mujahedeen who will carry on his mission and replace him in his jihad."
"He continued jihad, under the ear and the eyes of the tyrants, fighting on the front lines, protecting his brothers with his chest and his hand," it said.
The gunfight with the militants in a neighborhood of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, occurred soon after the group posted photos of the decapitated American online.
On Saturday, Saudi TV broadcast pictures of four bloodied bodies it said were al-Muqran and the three others slain, apparently to refute earlier denials by Islamic militants that al-Muqran was dead.
An earlier posting on an Islamist Web site Saturday said claims of al-Muqran's death were "aimed at dissuading the holy warriors and crushing their spirits."