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Key Riyadh bombings suspect gives up

The May 12 suicide bombings killed 23 people, including nine Americans. Twelve other bodies were identified as attackers.
The May 12 suicide bombings killed 23 people, including nine Americans. Twelve other bodies were identified as attackers.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A key suspect the May 12 terror attacks in Riyadh has turned himself in, U.S. and Saudi officials said Thursday.

Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, who authorities said has deep ties to al Qaeda, surrendered Thursday to Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the third ranking official in the Saudi Interior Ministry, a Saudi official told CNN.

This official said no deal was struck. "He will be judged according to Islamic law," said this official.

A statement read on Saudi TV, quoting a senior official at the Interior Ministry, said the fact al-Ghamdi surrendered will be considered during his trial.

The statement called on the other of the wanted terror suspects to follow al-Ghamdi's lead. It also thanked the families of the wanted suspects for their cooperation.

The nearly simultaneous bombings at three compounds housing Westerners in Riyadh on May 12 killed 23 people, including nine Americans. Twelve other bodies were identified as attackers.

Because the death toll was so high among the bombers or plotters, investigators told CNN they believe something went amiss in carrying out the bombing.

One of those still sought in connection with the bombings is Turki al-Dandani, a key Saudi operative for al Qaeda.

U.S. and other intelligence agencies believe al-Dandani left Saudi Arabia shortly after the attacks, traveling via Yemen to Iran. The intelligence agencies believe he is still in Iran.

The U.S. official said al-Ghamdi, also known as Abu Bakr al-Azdi, was intimately involved in the bombings. The official described his apprehension as a "significant get" and that he has ties to al Qaeda figures.

The Saudi official said he believed the break in the Riyadh case came after the June 14 bust by Saudi authorities of a suspected terror ring in Mecca, one of Islam's holiest sites. (Full story)

During the bust, Saudi authorities discovered, among other things, what one official described as "booby-trapped Korans," the Muslim holy book.

That discovery, said this official, may have been a final straw of sorts for Saudi religious leaders, who denounced the plot for its double hypocrisy in allegedly plotting a terror attack in Mecca and in waging a holy war against infidels using Islam's holiest book.

Al-Ghamdi was on the original list of 19 suspects wanted by Saudis prior to the May 12 bombings in the Saudi capital.

U.S. and Saudi officials have blamed the Riyadh attacks on the al Qaeda terror network, which has also been blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.

CNN correspondents Sheila MacVicar, David Ensor and Andrea Koppel contributed to this report.

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