Friday, 30 November 2007
By Abdullah Al-Hariri and Adel Al-Malki
JEDDAH - Some 40 percent of the 208 terror suspects whose arrests were announced by the Ministry of Interior Wednesday were non-Saudis, a security source told the Saudi Gazette Thursday. The source also disclosed that the leader of a group of 18 people planning to smuggle eight missiles into the Kingdom to carry out terrorist operations was a Yemeni national. The Yemeni rocket expert had sneaked into the Kingdom across its southern frontier with Yemen.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Mansour Al-Turki told the Saudi Gazette that the six terror cells busted over a period of time were not linked to each other.
"All the arrested terrorists shared the same ideology, but there was no relation between them in the filed," he said.
Al-Turki reveled that the arrests came as a result of security operations performed in the last few months.
"It was not a one-day operation. We kept following their plans for a while and as soon as we accomplished our mission, we made the announcement," he said, adding that the security forces were expecting to make more arrests after investigations from the arrested terror suspects are completed.
Al-Turki denied media reports that there was a link between the ministry's announcement and the Haj season.
"Timing of the ministry's announcement has nothing to do with Haj security as the investigations showed that suspected terrorists had no plans to carry out attacks during the Haj," he said.
The ministry spokesman disclosed that initial investigations proved that there was no intent to kill a certain Saudi scholar.
Some Saudi scholars revealed that they had received threatening massages from unidentified sources on their phones and e-mails.
Shaikh Mohammed Al-Nejaimi, member of the Advice Committee which helps relocate the deviants back to the right track, said he and Sheikh Sa'ad Al-Buraik, another scholar, received many threats from unknown sources.
"One day when we were on a live program on Saudi TV, Al-Buraik received a fax asking him to stop abusing Al-Qaeda leaders. Immediately after the program I received a call from an unknown person threatening me that I would pay the price if I continue my mission in the Advice Committee," Al-Nejaimi told the Saudi Gazette.
The Kingdom announced Wednesday it had arrested 208 suspected terrorists in six cells, of which some were planning to carry out attacks against oil installation in the Eastern Province.
The Interior Ministry listed six separate arrests in its statement, including the capture of 18 suspects led by a non-Saudi missile expert.
Among terror plots the ministry referred to in its latest announcement were planned attacks on oil installations, smuggling of fighters, and assassination of the Kingdom's scholars and security officials.
The Kingdom has been battling suspected Al-Qaeda militants since they launched a wave of shootings and bombings, many targeting Westerners, in May 2003.
In April this year the interior ministry said 172 terror suspects had been rounded up in one security operation, along with weapons and cash. Some of the militants were allegedly plotting airborne attacks on oil facilities and army bases.