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Suspected Saudi al-Qaida Militant Surrenders - 2004-07-13


A suspected Saudi al-Qaida militant was flown back to the Saudi Kingdom Tuesday after surrendering in Iran. The surrender comes under a government amnesty ending next week, for the country's militants to turn themselves in.

Saudi State television said Khaled al-Harby, who is also known as Abu Suleiman al-Makki, had contacted the Kingdom's embassy in Tehran, to surrender. He was shown on television in a wheelchair, being carried off a plane upon arrival in the kingdom.

The reports of his surrender come just hours after Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said the June 23 government amnesty for suspected militants to turn themselves over within one month would not be renewed.

Mr. al-Harby, a confidant of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden called on other militants to give themselves up under the amnesty.

Bearded and wearing glasses, Mr. al-Harby told Saudi State television that he was met with what he described as utmost welcome when he called the Saudi Arabian embassy in Iran to surrender. He said he had decided to, in his words, come to the obedience of God, and he called the amnesty offered by Saudi King Fahd and the Saudi crown prince, a gracious initiative.

He said there is no doubt that this is an opportunity that every wise man with faith should take advantage of.

Mr. al-Harby had no identity documents on him when he surrendered to the embassy in Tehran, news agencies out of Saudi Arabia reported. A Saudi interior ministry statement said Mr. al-Harby had been in the Iranian-Afghan border region before turning himself over.

Saudi-owned satellite Arabic TV station, Alarabiya, reported Mr. al-Harby was seen in a videotape, released after the September 11 terror attacks with al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden, but there was no immediate confirmation by Saudi officials.

Mr. al-Harby is the third person to surrender to Saudi authorities since June 23, when the country's king announced a government amnesty for militants accused of involvement in violent attacks in the kingdom. Since May 2003, Saudi Arabia has suffered a wave of suicide bombings, gun battles and kidnappings that have mostly targeted the kingdom's thousands of foreign workers. The attacks have been blamed on al-Qaida and related groups.