How to get to Jihad?
Well, if you are Ra’id al-Harbi, whose last will and testament was posted to jihadi forums over the weekend, you ride your camel nine hours across the border to Yemen.
That is only one of the many interesting tidbits that I have gleaned so far from the wills of al-Harbi and former Guantanamo Bay detainee Yusif al-Shihri. (Unfortunately, an on-going project means that I can’t provide my full take here – but one day, hopefully sooner than later it will be published, and then all of my thoughts will be on the record.)
For the time being let me just say that the fact that there were wills drawn up for al-Shihri and al-Harbi confirms – at least to me – what I have been telling friends for weeks now, and that is that Saudi Arabia averted a big attack when it stumbled on al-Shihri and al-Harbi with a roaming police checkpoint. The two were disguised in women’s clothes and only opened fire when a female officer approached them to check their identities.
I wrote a bit about their death here. I argued in a CTC Sentinel piece that came out before they were killed that AQAP was prioritizing attacks in Saudi Arabia. Now, some of the less generous among you could argue that I am massaging the knowns and the unknowns of the situation to fit my analysis, but I still believe – obviously – that I was correct. And I think the fact that they had left their wills with their comrades in Yemen and the fact that they traveled to Saudi Arabia strongly suggests they were in the final stages of planning an attack that the kingdom managed to derail. The third individual they were traveling with was arrested and subsequently gave up a cell in Saudi. Obviously, reasonable people can disagree here given how many unknowns there are, but for me the wills strongly suggest that they were in Saudi Arabia to carry out an attack.
Leaving wills on record, especially ones composed in the style that these two are, is a common mark of suicide bombers. So, in my calculation, score one – even if it was a lucky one – for Saudi Arabia’s security services.