Saudi authorities announced Sunday that they have foiled a terror plot by elements suspected to be linked to al-Qaida. They busted two extremist cells in Riyadh and Jeddah.
The Saudi interior ministry's spokesman, Mansour al-Turki, said in a statment that two Saudis and six Yemenis were arrested, and it also named two nationals as being wanted for questioning, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
According to an interior ministry statement, the al-Qaida members had trained in a troubled country nearby. "It could be Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, there are so many troubled regions in the world. I can't specify," al-Turki said.
The suspects were preparing attacks against Saudi security forces, public figures, oil facilities, foreign and public targets in the kingdom, local police reported Sunday.
According to a ministry statement, the authorities followed the suspects for months, as the suspects were related to a foreign and deviant organization, a term used for Al-Qaida in the kingdom.
The investigation revealed that preparations for attacks had reached an advanced stage and that the suspects had prepared and tested explosives outside Riyadh. One member of the cell has been burned and had his fingers amputated by working on bombs.
The arrest of a Saudi who proved to be the leader of the Riyadh cell led to the arrest of the six Yemenis. "Their confessions then led to the dismantling of another cell in Jeddah," the ministry said.
In a mosque located in the capital, police found chemicals used to make explosives and mobile phones connected to remote control detonators, according to the statement.
The Saudi national TV broadcast footage of large weapons seized in the operation. The arms included bricks of plastic explosives, ammunition cartridges, handguns and rifles wrapped in plastic sheeting.
In recent years, Saudi authorities have regularly announced the arrest of suspects being linked to al-Qaida. In April 2011, a judicial source had indicated that 5,080 terrorist suspects were being tried, or were tried before a special court.
According to AFP news, between 2003 and 2006, the Saudi authorities carried out operations against al-Qaida elements who launched attacks against oil installations and foreign targets. Hundreds of people were arrested as part of this campaign, which has reportedly eradicated the local branch of al-Qaida. The network, however, remained active in neighboring Yemen, where the Saudi and Yemeni branches merged in 2009 under the name of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
It is worth mentioning that the Saudi authorities have sat up a multibillion- dollar fund to strengthen the Yemen and Saudi border and to get rid of villages that are used as hideouts for al-Qaida figures, arms smugglers and Shiite insurgents.