Al Qaeda Vows to Continue Fight Against Saudi Officials

A statement circulated in the name of Al Qaeda (search) said two of its members were slightly wounded in a clash that killed six Saudi security agents who were searching a terror suspect's house in the Saudi capital, Riyadh (search).

However, Riyadh governor Prince Salman said government forces "did not fire a single bullet" in Thursday's confrontation, "because they did not expect to encounter terrorists."

The statement attributed to Al Qaeda, a copy of which was e-mailed to The Associated Press on Friday, said Saudi forces detained one of its members, Khaled al-Juwaiser al-Farraj, but others escaped.

The statement said al-Farraj's father was critically wounded, but the Saudi Interior Ministry said the father was killed. The ministry also reported an unspecified number of suspects were detained.

The statement did not explicitly identify the militants as Al Qaeda, but referred to them as "mujahedeen" (Islamic holy warriors) and "brother," terms the group usually uses to refer to its members.

The Al Qaeda statement, dated Thursday, vowed to continue fighting the Saudi government and its Western supporters, swearing to "take revenge on anyone who fights the faith and its people, or stands as a line of defense for the Crusader forces."

"Crusader forces" is a term often used by Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden (search) and his supporters to refer to the United States or to Western powers in general.

In recent months, Saudi security forces have arrested scores of terror suspects and seized large caches of weapons, ammunition and bomb-making material, spurred in part by deadly attacks on compounds housing foreigners last May and November. U.S. and Saudi officials blamed those attacks on Al Qaeda.

The militants' statement, under a headline of "The Voice of Jihad" and signed "The Al Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula," was relayed to news organizations by the Saudi Institute, a dissident Saudi group based in Washington.

There was no other verification of the document's authenticity, but it resembled the style of previous Al Qaeda statements seen by AP. A line of fine print at the top said "The voice of the mujahedeen in the Arab Peninsula," a phrase previously used by Al Qaeda.

"The mujahedeen will continue on the path and force the infidels out of the Arabian peninsula," the statement said.

The Saudi Institute, which monitors human rights in the kingdom and advocates democratic reforms, said it was alerted to the statement by an unidentified colleague in Riyadh.

"I believe the statement is authentic. It resembles previous Al Qaeda statements in form and language," said Ali al-Ahmed, the institute's director.

Bin Laden, who is thought to be in hiding along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, once communicated mostly via videotapes. Increasingly, however, statements attributed to Al Qaeda and its supporters have surfaced on Islamic Web sites -- sometimes for very short periods in an apparent effort to avoid being traced -- or distributed via e-mail.

The Saudi security force's confrontation with militants at a Riyadh house Thursday led to the deaths of six Saudi security officers, plus the arrest of one suspected militant.

Both sides agree on this much. After that, their accounts vary somewhat. The statement issued in Al Qaeda's name says "a clash took place between the intelligence agents and the mujahedeen that led to the deaths of six intelligence agents and the fleeing of two others, in addition to the light wounding of two mujahedeen."

Salman, whose remarks were reported by the official Saudi Press Agency, said the government operation was not a raid. Instead, he was quoted as saying, the security forces had gone to the house for "a routine search" and weren't expecting an attack.

Salman, a brother of King Fahd, attended a religious ceremony Friday for the dead security officers.

The Interior Ministry said Thursday that five security men were killed outright, and Salman said a sixth died Friday of his wounds.

Prince Salman's comments indicated some of the security officers were already searching the house when they were attacked by the militants.

"They (the militants) killed two officers stationed at the front door, along with the father, then entered the house and killed three others and wounded a fourth who died today," he said.