Woman al Qaeda leaders sentenced to 15 years

The woman was accused of trying to commit terrorist attacks, financing anti-state groups to the tune of more than a quarter of a million US dollars, and forging identity papers to help smuggle operatives to join the insurgency in Iraq.
Although the official Saudi statement announcing her sentence did not name the woman involved in the court case, she had previously been identified by local media as Heila al-Qusayyer, who was arrested in February 2010.
A middle-class housewife and mother with a geography degree, now around 48, she became radicalised while married to her first husband, Abdulkareem al-Humaid, who was at the time an oil industry executive. After he gave up all his worldly possessions, became a radical preacher and was later jailed, they divorced so she could remarry into al-Qaeda.
Her next husband was killed in a shoot-out with Saudi police in Riyadh in 2004. When she was arrested last year, she was said by one report to have been intending to travel to Yemen to marry the deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Saeed al-Shehri, a Saudi former inmate of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility who is now one of the organisation's most important strategists.
Until Qusayyer's arrest, Saudi Arabia's tough anti-terror programme had shied away from tackling sensitive issues such as women terrorists. Women suspected of involvement were handed over to their families, who were asked to "supervise" them.
That came to an end in autumn 2009 after a series of attacks. In one, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the deputy interior minister and son of Prince Nayef, who became Crown Prince last week, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by an operative working for Saeed al-Shehri who blew himself up with explosives hidden in his rectum.
In another, Saeed al-Shehri's cousin, Yusuf al-Shehri, and another Yemen-based terrorist were shot dead while wearing burkas which they were using to disguise suicide belts. They had allegedly been smuggling them from Yemen to deliver to Qusayyer.
By the time of her arrest, she was said to be the leader of a cell of at least 60 people. She was said to have been an active recruiter of women and girls with Wafa al-Shehri, who was Saeed's wife and Yusuf's sister.
She had close ties to al Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

Saudi intelligence deserves credit for finding her operation and hopefully shutting it down.  She was a very dedicated terrorist leader.


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