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Main Suspect in Riyadh Blasts Is Held

A second man sought in the Saudi bombings remains at large.

June 27, 2003|From Associated Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Authorities have arrested one of the alleged Al Qaeda masterminds of last month's terrorist bombings here that killed nearly three dozen people at three housing compounds catering to foreigners.

Saudi and U.S. officials said Thursday that Ali Abdulrahman Said Alfagsy Ghamdi, 29, was in custody.

State-run Radio Riyadh quoted the Interior Ministry as saying the suspect had surrendered to Saudi police.

Last month, Saudi Interior Ministry officials said Ghamdi had been arrested. They initially said he had been apprehended outside a commercial complex in Riyadh, then later said he had been detained in the holy city of Medina. But U.S. officials said at the time that they had not seen evidence that Ghamdi had been arrested.

On Thursday, however, both sides appeared confident that Ghamdi was in custody.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, called Ghamdi's detention "a major arrest and a huge victory in the war against terrorism."

"Ghamdi is in custody and under interrogation. We hope that our interrogations will provide information that will lead to additional arrests," he said.

U.S. counter-terrorism officials in Washington predicted that the arrest would severely hamper Al Qaeda's operations in Saudi Arabia because Ghamdi was one of the terrorist network's top operatives in the kingdom.

Turki Nasser Dandani, the second main suspect in the Riyadh bombings, remains at large.

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