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Saudi Arabia carries out second wave of counterterror arrests - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Naif offers his condolences to families of those killed in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Naif offers his condolences to families of those killed in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi security authorities have continued their counterterror offensive following the Al-Ahsa attack on Monday, arresting more than 26 suspected militants involved in the attack following security raids across the Kingdom.

A high-level Saudi security source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that Saudi security forces are committed to tracking down and arresting all those involved in the attack on the Shi’ite Husseiniya (meeting house) which resulted in the death of eight citizens and the wounding of 10 others.

Security forces most recently arrested three suspected militants in the central Riyadh region on Thursday morning following information obtained by questioning suspected militants who had been arrested in earlier security raids.

“Preliminary investigations with the eight suspected militants who were initially arrested in the hours following the Ahsa attack led to the arrest of 18 more suspected militants. We have now been able to reach the mastermind of this terrorist cell, who planned the Al-Ahsa attack,” the security source said.

“Some of those arrested are directly linked with this crime [Ahsa terrorist attack], while others were arrested because they attacked Saudi security forces with arms [in the subsequent raids], while others provided material assistance to this terrorist cell,” the security officer added.

He refused to comment on whether security forces believed this terrorist cell was responsible for other attacks, or had been planning more.

However he did say that the majority of those arrested had previously fought in wars abroad, or were previously held on terror-related charges, including some who were awaiting trail and others who had been released after undergoing rehabilitation.

Asharq Al-Awsat can exclusively reveal the identity of two of the suspected militants who were killed in the counterterror offensives in Al-Buraydah. They are Abdullah Farhan Al-Enezi and Sami Shabib Awad Al-Mutairi.

Enezi was a fugitive with known ties to Al-Qaeda, his body was uncovered by security forces in the Buraydah safe house; it is unclear whether he was killed in the subsequent shootout with security forces or had been killed earlier.

Mutairi was also a fugitive. He opened fire on Saudi security forces in Buraydah. He did not respond to demands to lay down his weapon and was killed in the ensuing shootout. His role in the terrorist cell is, as yet, unclear.

The Saudi security officer also acknowledged that some of those arrested are family members of suspected militants who “failed in their duty to care for their family members.”

“They signed pledges with the competent authorities to inform the security apparatus or the Mohammed Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center (Munasaha) in the event of any signs of deviant ideology in their released family members,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Mohammed Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center carries out the Munasaha reconciliation program for extremist ideology, something that all Saudis involved in terrorist-related crimes must go through. Former extremists who are believed rehabilitated are sometimes surrendered into the care of their parents, who sign a waiver agreeing to inform the authorities if their children lapse back into extremism.

The security officer informed Asharq Al-Awsat that some of the suspected militants had traveled to fight with Al-Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria and Yemen and that the families had failed to inform the relevant authorities.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz visited the families of those killed in Al-Ahsa to convey his condolences, and the condolences of the Saudi leadership. The Interior Minister also visited citizens injured in the terrorist attack in hospital where he conveyed the greetings of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz and their wishes of a speedy recovery.