The top al Qaeda leader in Saudi Arabia says Osama bin Laden’s group has been aiding Muslim militants fighting to expel U.S. forces from Iraq, according to a statement posted on Islamist Web sites.
“In our jihad in the Arabian peninsula, we are serving the Iraqi cause and helping the mujahideen there who we are in constant contact with and are supporting,” said the statement on Friday, attributed to Abdulaziz al-Muqrin.
“We seek to confuse the enemy, keep it occupied in its rear bases and foil its future plans along with its Arab allies and despots.”
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the statement, which said Muslim militants had laid low in Kurdistan for a long time and “could not achieve what they are achieving now”.
It was referring to Ansar al-Islam, a militant group which held a swathe of territory near the mountainous border between northern Iraq and Iran before being scattered by U.S. and Kurdish troops in last year’s Iraq war.
The area had been beyond the control of then-president Saddam Hussein in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq’s northern Kurdish regions became autonomous.