In what is being described as an "unprecedented global alert," the International Criminal Police Organization today issued its largest-ever most wanted list for 85 terrorist suspects, who are sought by Saudi Arabia for allegedly plotting attacks against the country and for suspected links to al Qaeda.
"Never before has INTERPOL been asked to alert the world about so many dangerous fugitives at one time," said Secretary General Ronald K. Noble in a statement. "We know that we are approaching the 16th anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing on Feb. 26, 2009 and therefore must be especially vigilant of fugitive al Qaeda terrorists."
Many terrorism experts are concerned that al Qaeda will strike again shortly, said former FBI Agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. He speculated that the record alert – which was requested by Saudi Arabia – is a possible effort by the country to look like a team player on the terrorist-fighting front, after long being criticized for its lax security and funding of extremist groups.
"It certainly shows, on some level, the Saudis' intentions of being serious about terrorism and pursuing people who have committed terrorist attacks," said Garrett.
Garrett added: "There's a lot of internal unrest in Saudi Arabia, and I think the powers that be there obviously have some concerns about their own security internally. To reach out to the rest of the world to say we're with you, these are bad guys and we want you to help us catch them, I think for Saudi Arabia, that's a fairly big statement."
Today's security alert is known as an "Orange Notice" – which was originally intended to warn authorities of potential threats, but can be released publicly "for any act or event which poses a risk to the safety and security of citizens around the world," according to the agency.
The alert today was sent by the INTERPOL Secretary General at the request of the agency's National Central Bureau in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The suspected terrorists are 83 Saudis and two Yemenis, according to INTERPOL.
INTERPOL says there are more than 13,000 individuals in its database of terrorists suspects.