Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia broke up 10 terrorist cells, arresting a total of 88 terrorist suspects, in simultaneous raids across the Kingdom following a months-long investigation, a security spokesman said on Tuesday.
Saudi Interior Ministry security spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that those arrested were suspected of planning terrorist attacks both inside and outside the Kingdom. Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, Turki confirmed that 88 suspects had been arrested—84 Saudi nationals, three Yemenis, and one man whose nationality has yet to be confirmed.
He said that a total of 10 terrorist cells had been disrupted including a nine-member terrorist cell in Tameer north of Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, 13 Saudi nationals and two Yemenis operating in the Mecca and Ha’il region, eight Saudi nationals and an unidentified suspect in Riyadh, and five Saudi nationals in the Asir region southwest of the country.
The remaining six cells had interconnected ties and were based in Mecca, Riyadh, the Al-Qassim region, and the Eastern Province. The Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman said the six cells—comprising 51 suspects—had specialized in recruiting Saudi youth to join terrorist organizations abroad.
“The ongoing turmoil in neighboring countries has provided a breeding ground for extremists and advocates of deviant ideologies,” he said.
Turki added that one cell had actively been planning to carry out terrorist attacks inside the country while another had been planning assassination operations.
“A total of 59 suspects have previously been convicted of holding extremist views and were released after serving their prison sentences. Nevertheless, it seems they went back to their old ways following their release from prison,” Turki said.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Interior Ministry spokesman said the people arrested in the recent raids were suspected of providing logistical support for terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, adding that investigations had revealed that foreign terrorist organizations were using these cells to recruit new fighters.
Foreign terrorist groups were also training these cells in bomb-making, with a view to carrying out future attacks on Saudi territory, Turki added.
“The terrorist cells were waiting for some support and guidance. Some of those arrested did not have sufficient capabilities [to carry out terrorist attacks], so assassination attempts were the easiest way for them to carry out their criminal acts in Saudi Arabia,” he said.