Saudi security forces have arrested 113 Al-Qaeda militants who were planning to carry out terrorist attacks on a number of targets inside the Kingdom including oil installations, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said his forces had broken up three cells of Al-Qaeda militants, with one cell consisting of 101 people, and two smaller cells made up of six men each.
“The large cell comprised 47 Saudis and 51 Yemenis, as well as a Somali, a Bangladeshi and an Eritrean,” he said.
The two smaller groups were made up of 11 Saudis and a Yemeni. He said Al-Qaeda planned to carry out new terrorist attacks inside the Kingdom in October, targeting economic facilities and security officers while Saudi military and security forces were busy confronting Yemeni infiltrators in the south of the country.
The large cell was discovered as a result of an investigation launched after suspected Al-Qaeda militants — two of them dressed as women — tried to infiltrate the country in October with explosives. The two were killed in a shootout at the border and a third was arrested.
“The two had infiltrated the country through the Yemeni border to carry out terrorist operations,” the spokesman said. Police then arrested seven people who had allegedly helped the two terrorists enter the Kingdom.The foreigners in the cell were said to have entered the country under the cover of seeking work or visiting holy sites in Makkah and Madinah.
The two small cells were operating independent of each other and were said to be linked to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) group, tasked with targeting oil installations. The ministry spokesman did not say where or when the arrests were made.“The two small cells were in the primary stages of preparing attacks on oil and security installations in the Eastern Province,” he said.
Suicide bombers tried but failed to attack an oil facility at the Abqaiq oil complex in eastern Saudi Arabia in February 2006. The complex is the world’s largest oil- processing facility. Saudi officials said security forces have thwarted several plots inside the Kingdom, rounding up numerous suspected militants and seizing weapons caches and bomb-making equipment, all linked to Al-Qaeda.
Al-Turki said the ministry made the announcement in order to caution Saudis, residents and foreign pilgrims about the criminal plots of the deviant group. “Apart from the support of God, the awareness of citizens about these criminal plans would contribute to foiling these terrorist plans,” Al-Turki said, adding that Saudi security forces would continue to be vigilant to thwart such attempts.Police seized arms and ammunition, 12 hand grenades.