Tuesday, July 13, 2004
A confidant of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), seen on a videotape with the al-Qaida chief as he talked about the Sept. 11 terror attacks, surrendered to Saudi diplomats in Iran and was flown to the kingdom Tuesday.
Khaled bin Ouda bin Mohammed al-Harby, a potentially valuable asset in the war on terror because of his closeness to bin Laden, was shown on Saudi TV being pushed in a wheelchair through the Riyadh airport.
The Saudis are beating their chests a bit over this capture, but the Americans think he's no big deal -- "an aging mujahideen," coming in from the cold.
If al-Hardy actually were important, the Saudis probably destroyed his value as a source by parading him in front of the cameras. Either that, or Al-Qaeda sent him in to serve up some misinformation. In any case, the fact that we know of his surrender so quickly after the fact strongly suggests that the publicity of his capture means more to the Saudis than the opportunity for real intelligence.