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Saudi Arabia arrests members of terror recruitment cell - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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This undated file photo shows Saudi security forces marching during a parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters)

This undated file photo shows Saudi security forces marching during a parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi authorities announced on Tuesday the arrest of eight people on suspicion of recruiting young people to join terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

The eight Saudis were arrested in the city of Tameer, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital Riyadh, following complaints from local citizens who feared they were attempting to lure their sons into fighting abroad.

In a statement, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said the authorities were convinced the detainees had been engaged in activities aimed at misguiding the city’s young people, and assured the public they would be prosecuted.

“These men used to meet at rest houses and farms close to the town and were frequently visited by youths during their meetings, arousing suspicion among residents, who reported the matter to the Interior Ministry,” Turki said.

A security source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to brief the media, said the group had successfully recruited 17 young Saudis from the city to fight in regional hotspots.

He said: “There is information about the presence of communication between a number of those arrested . . . with members of other terror groups abroad.”

As a part of a wider campaign to crack down on terror-related activities in the Kingdom, a royal decree issued earlier this year outlawed Saudi citizens from traveling abroad to join militant groups, and decreed that those found guilty of membership of radical religious groups faced penalties of up to 30 years imprisonment.