Saudi authorities have arrested 172 militants who were planning major terrorist attacks both in Saudi Arabia and abroad, the Ministry of Interior announced today.
As part of the Kingdom’s ongoing counterterrorism efforts, authorities discovered several terrorist cells, some with links to militants abroad. The cells were arrested in simultaneous security operations throughout the Kingdom.
The detained militants planned to carry out terrorist plots including suicide attacks on public figures, oil installations and refineries, as well as military bases in Saudi Arabia and abroad, the Ministry said. Some of the militants had received flight training in preparation for attacks in the Kingdom.
The massive security sweep resulted in the seizure of weapons, more than $5 million in cash, documents, communications devices and computers. Authorities are continuing to follow up on individuals with links to the detained militants.
The Ministry provided the following details about the arrested militants and the security operations that netted them:
First, authorities arrested a group of dispersed cells with 61 members, mostly Saudi nationals. Their leader had provided them with weapons training and sent some members abroad for flight training in order to launch terrorist attacks in the Kingdom. The leader raised substantial funds by misleading people into believing he was investing the money for them. The cells’ goals included suicide attacks against public figures, oil installations and refineries, and military bases inside and outside the Kingdom.
Second, 59 members of a cell were detained in various regions of the Kingdom. These militants, both Saudi nationals and expatriates, were linked to militants outside the country. The militants were trained and sent abroad to participate in regional conflicts, then returned to Saudi Arabia to participate in terorrist operations there.
Third, 16 militants who had formed a cell while abroad were arrested. The cell of mostly Saudis had planned to carry out terrorist acts both in the Kingdom and in other countries.
Fourth, authorities arrested 13 Saudis and expatriates who had formed an organization designed to spread chaos in a neighboring country so that it would provide an environment conducive to their activities. They planned operations both in the Kingdom and abroad.
In a fifth operation, nine Saudis were arrested who were using one of the Kingdom’s provinces as a base for terrorist activities. They supported militants both inside the Kingdom and abroad. The nine had also targeted oil installations and buried weapons nearby in preparation for the attacks.
A sixth operation resulted in the arrests of nine expatriates who had formed a cell, intending to storm a Saudi prison and release the militants detained there.
Finally, authorities detained five militants suspected of links to the Feb. 24 attack on the Abqaiq oil facility. One detainee took photographs of the operation and participated in the attack on the facility, while the remaining detainees assisted in preparations and hid the perpetrators.