- update..Saudi Arabia announces arrest of 110 Al Qaeda suspects
- By Layelle Saad, GCC/Middle East Editor
- Published: 19:05 March 24, 2010
- One cell consisted of 101 people, and two smaller cells were made up of six men each.
Dubai: In what has been touted as the biggest security swoop in several years, Saudi state media announced on Wednesday the arrest of over 100 members of Al Qaida cells that were plotting attacks on oil facilities in the kingdom.
The arrests came just a day after the US had warned of Al Qaida plans to attack ships off Yemen's coast.
Among those arrested were 47 Saudis and 51 foreigners from Yemen, Bangladesh, Eritrea and Somalia. The nationalities of three more suspects were not specified.
According to released statements the militants were organised in three cells. One cell consisted of 101 people, and two smaller cells were made up of six men each. The Yemeni was said to be a very prominent member of Al Qaida.
"We seized belts of explosives which they were planning to use in suicide attacks," one security official said. Arms, ammunition, computers, pre-paid telephone cards and unspecified documents were all seized in the operation.
The large cell was discovered as the result of an investigation launched after suspected Al Qaida 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 foreigners in the cell were said to have entered the country under cover of seeking work or visiting Muslim holy sites in Makkah and Madinah.
Two members of that cell were said to have been preparing suicide attacks, while the others were to have targeted economic and security targets.
Each of the two small cells was operating without knowledge of the other, and both were said to be linked to Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and tasked with targeting oil installations.
Saudi officials have uncovered several plots to launch attacks in the kingdom in the past year, rounding up numerous suspected militants and seizing weapons caches and bomb-making equipment, all linked to Al Qaida.
In August, a Saudi militant from the Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, pretending to surrender to the authorities, sneaked a bomb into the palace of Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef in an attempt to kill the top security official.
Security agents rounded up most of the suspects in the southern province of Jizan, near the border with Yemen, although the exact date of the swoop is not known.
— With inputs from AFP