Kingdom arrests 208 militants, terror financiers

Saudi authorities yesterday announced the arrest of 208 terror suspects, including 32 terror financiers and a 16-member media cell, adding that some of the suspects had planned to attack oil installations in the Eastern Province.

Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the arrests took place following pre-emptive operations carried out by security forces over the last few months. He said the suspects had been influenced by a deviant ideology.

“Security forces foiled an impending attack on a support oil facility in the Eastern Province,” the spokesman said, adding that an eight-member cell led by an expatriate man was behind the plan.

The expatriate explained to police how he mobilized other militants to carry out the attack after encouraging them to take part in suicide operations inside and outside the Kingdom.

The arrested militants also included an 18-member cell, which had smuggled eight missiles into the Kingdom in order to launch terrorist operations, the Saudi Press Agency quoted the spokesman as saying. An infiltrator, who is an expert in missile launching, headed the team, he added.

“There was a 22-member cell which formed a special team to assassinate Islamic scholars and security officers,” Al-Turki said. The assassination move came after imams and khateebs across the country joined the fight against terrorism and extremism. “As many as 112 suspects were arrested for coordinating with foreign parties to facilitate the travel of militants to disturbed regions,” he said in reference to those that convince Saudis to travel to Iraq in order to fight alongside insurgents.

Al-Turki said the arrested terror financiers included Saudis as well as expatriates, adding that they had provided financial support to Al-Qaeda militants in the Kingdom and abroad.

Speaking about the media cell that was operating in Madinah to promote deviant ideologies and thoughts, he said the cell had provided militants every encouragement to commit various crimes. The media cell published a news bulletin named Sada Al-Rafidain (Echo of Iraq) and facilitated the travel of militants to the war-torn country.

During the security operations police confiscated a number of means of communication and documents, the spokesman said. Details of the confiscated items will not be disclosed at present in order to protect public interest. “Investigations made with the help of arrested militants have also led to information about persons who have links with the militants,” the spokesman said.

The Interior Ministry called upon Saudis who have been approached by deviant ideologists to contact the nearest security agency if they are in the Kingdom or the nearest Saudi mission abroad to clarify their stand. “This will be taken into consideration when dealing with their cases,” the spokesman said.