Border Guards intercept smuggler infiltrating the Kingdom on a glider

September 28, 2011

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki announced during a press conference in Riyadh today that Border Guards near Rafah in northen Saudi Arabia have foiled an attempt by smugglers to bring drugs into the Kingdom using a motorized glider. The two-seater glider crossed into Saudi airspace from Iraq early Tuesday morning before being intercepted by security forces, who exchanged gunfire with smugglers waiting for the delivery in four vehicles on the ground. The pilot and nine of his associates, including one non-Saudi, were arrested. Authorities seized the glider and three bags of narcotics, weighing 172 kg (380 lbs) and including 700,000 captagon tablets. No injuries were reported and an investigation is underway.

Maj. Gen. Al-Turki noted that this incident is the first in which a glider was used to infiltrate the Kingdom, speculating that the smugglers were attempting to overcome the tightened border security being put in place along the Northern border. Describing the security measures, he explained that the region is surrounded by a security belt with a depth of 10 km made up of natural and metal barriers. These includes three different types of wire fences with heights reaching three meters, as well as natural obstacles supported by early warning electronic systems consisting of radar and thermal cameras and other technologies. He added that the border security project will be completed and fully operational by early next year.

Addressing the dangers posed by infiltrators, Maj. Gen. Al-Turki said, “The goal of this group was limited to the smuggling of drugs, but the idea itself entails a risk for security and safety due to possible misuse of such means.” Since the Kingdom has been targeted by terrorism, such cases must be dealt with seriously and decisively, he said, warning, “We do not rule out the use of gliders in acts which threaten security and safety whether in populated areas or targeting security, industrial or other facilities, or crossing borders.”