Saudis Link Bombers To Al Qaeda

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Four suspects arrested in connection with this week's suicide attacks on Riyadh housing complexes for foreigners are linked to al Qaeda, the Saudi interior minister says

When asked Sunday whether the four men in custody belonged to al Qaeda, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said, "All indications point to that."

This week's terror attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco are stark reminders that al Qaeda and its world-wide terror network may be damaged, but it hasn't been defeated, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

U.S. counterterrorism officials say they expect additional al Qaeda bombings at lightly defended targets in Asia and Africa. There is also evidence senior al Qaeda operatives have found safe haven in Iran, where they planned and directed this week's strike on Saudi Arabia, as well as future attacks, the officials say.

The Saudi interior minister says three of the nine attackers believed to have carried out the May 12 Riyadh bombings were wanted in connection with an earlier investigation of a weapons cache. The Saudi government linked the weapons to 19 suspects believed to be receiving orders directly from the Saudi-born bin Laden. The suspects planned to use the weapons to attack the Saudi royal family and American and British interests, the government says.

For a year and a half, U.S. and allied forces have chased al Qaeda from its base of operation in Afghanistan to outposts around the world.

Osama bin Laden and his top leaders are on the run, but the terrorists they trained are still able to operate, even without a base or central command structure.

Jessica Stern, a terrorism expert at the Kennedy School Of Government, tells CBS News, "What I find very troubling is it's proving itself very adaptable, very cable of evolving to meet new circumstances so that we see more groups coming into the alliance."

One of the new members of the al Qaeda alliance, according to U.S. intelligence officials, is the radical group, Hezbollah.

While most recent intelligence has pointed toward attacks in Southeast Asia, the Arabian peninsula and East Africa, officials said similar strikes in Europe and the United States are also a possibility.

During the past several months, authorities have detained several people they suspect are advance scouts sent by al Qaeda to conduct surveillance inside the United States, U.S. officials say. Their activities are still being investigated.

"The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we," President Bush said in his weekly radio address on Saturday. "Our government is taking unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And from Pakistan to the Philippines, to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda killers."

But al Qaeda and its allies are hunting down U.S. interests at the same time, by seeking out softer targets. Since September 11th, al Qaeda has been tied to at least eight attacks:

  • May 16, 2003: Five groups of attackers killed 28 people in a series of attacks in Casablanca, Morocco. Thirteen bombers were also killed in the attacks. Investigators are focusing on whether the attackers were linked to a known extremist group, Salafia Jihadia, which is suspected of ties to the al Qaeda terror network.
  • May 12, 2003: Four explosions rock Riyadh, the Saudi capital, in an attack on compounds housing Americans, Westerners, and other Saudis. Eight Americans are among the 34 people killed. Officials have linked the attacks to al Qaeda and said the 15 attackers were Saudi.
  • Dec. 30, 2002: A gunman kills three American missionaries at a Southern Baptist hospital in Yemen. Yemeni security officials say the gunman, sentenced to death in May, belonged to a cell linked to al Qaeda.
  • Nov. 28, 2002: Suicide bombers kill 12 people at an Israeli-owned beach hotel in Kenya and two missiles narrowly miss an airliner carrying home Israeli holidaymakers
  • Oct. 12, 2002: Nearly 200 people, including two Americans, are killed in a pair of bombings in a nightclub districts of the Indonesian island of Bali. Suspicion falls on Jemaah Islamiyah.
  • Oct. 6, 2002: A small boat crashes into a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen and explodes, killing one crewman
  • Oct. 2, 2002: Suspected Abu Sayyaf guerrillas detonate a nail-laden bomb in a market Zamboanga, Philippines, killing four people, including an American Green Beret.
  • June 14, 2002: A suicide bomber blows up a truck at the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 14 Pakistanis. Harkat-iul-Mujahedeen al-Almi, linked to al Qaeda, is blamed.