Dammam- Saudi Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Eastern Province, said that the doors for forgiveness and amnesty are still open to those who have deviated from the right and have reformed with the will to stand by their country.
Speaking to a delegation of representatives and residents of the town of Al-Awamiyah in the governorate’s headquarters in the Eastern Region on Wednesday, Prince Saudi said that “the doors of amnesty and forgiveness are still open to all of who committed wrong.”
“And to those who have an opinion to share or a desire and to aid in the renaissance of the Kingdom and make this country better than others, the state welcomes all who wanted to do what’s right. Such has been the case since the beginning.”
He pointed out that life has returned to normal in Al-Awamiyah thanks to the cooperation of its people, praising the efforts of government agencies that are working to repair what was destroyed by terror attacks in the town.
Students are expected to return to schools next week.
More so, citizens have sensed the return of public services at the best level, whether from health centers or municipal, power services, water services, and other services.
Development projects approved by the relevant authorities in the Eastern region are also underway.
During the reception, which was attended by Prince Ahmed bin Fahd bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Governor of the Eastern Region, Dr. Abdullah Al-Nimr said in a speech on behalf of the people of Qatif have sensed authorities’ keenness to reform and rehabilitate youth involved in terrorist acts.
Fadel Ben Ali Al Nimr, President of the Peace Club in Al-Awamiyah, praised the efforts of concerned bodies to complete all development projects meeting the aspirations of people and preserve architectural and heritage identity of the province.
The Emir of the region thanked the people of Al-Awamiyah, stressing that every inch of this land is the focus of the concerns of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Crown Prince, and all statesmen.
Prince Saud also pointed out to the Eastern Province’s overall development projects at all levels and in all fields. He stressed that the men of the Eastern Province are known for their national loyalty, their belonging and their love for Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi interior ministry security spokesman gave an official statement on Tuesday saying that a terror attack has effected a security patrol was on duty in Al-Musawara district in Qatif governorate of the Eastern region earlier that morning.
The patrol was apparently hit by an explosive projectile.
More so, the attack was condemned as an act of terror which resulted in the martyrdom of Vice Sergeant Adel Faleh Al-Otaibi and the injury of three others of security men, said the Saudi state-owned news agency (SPA).
Al-Musawara neighborhood, where the attack happened, is a hotspot target for terrorists in the eastern province. A development project to revamp the neighborhood has come under repeated terrorist attacks in an effort to stop further construction.
“The competent security authorities have begun an investigation into this terrorist crime,”said the ministry spokesman.
Dammam – Saudi toddler Jawad al-Dagher met an ill fate at the hands of terrorists who showered his father’s vehicle with bullets in Al-Awamiyah in Qatif governorate in the Eastern Province.
Covered in his own blood after sustaining a head injury Jawad did not survive the brutal attack launched by trigger-happy gunmen.
Jawad’s family was on their way back home from Qatif to Al Ahsa. However, after missing their exit, the family found themselves strolling down a dim-lit street in Al-Awamiyah, only to later be surprised by the shooting.
The father, reiterated the frustrating helplessness he found himself in that day, he could not have done anything to avoid it.
Bullets smashed through the windshield and through Jawad’s head, scattering the toddler’s blood inside the car.
“The bullet pierced the back of the car from the right side, crossed the back seat, later getting lodged in Jawad’s head,” Jawad’s uncle Ahmed al-Khamis said.
He pointed out that Jawad is the only one injured in the incident.
Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, security spokesman at the Ministry of Interior, said that the attack took place on Wednesday following the terrorists’ attempt to disrupt construction of a development project in Al-Masourah.
Al-Khamis also voiced his deep appreciation to security forces who have maintained contact with Jawad’s family and the families of those wounded.
“This is what we have always known of our security men and the sons of our country, they stand by us through good and hard times,” he added.
For its part, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) condemned the terrorist shooting in Qatif, which killed two people and injured others.
ISESCO affirmed its stand with Saudi Arabia in its effective measures to combat terrorism in all its forms.
The Saudi Eastern Province police have announced that a Saudi citizen was abducted and beaten by unknown terrorists who intend to provoke a riot in Awamiyah for the second time in one week.
The police explained in an official statement that the incident happened on Friday at 3:30am, two days after a bus carrying workers of Saudi Arabia’s oil company Saudi Aramco was set on fire by four armed men.
The victim who is in his thirties was kidnapped by armed assailants as he was driving through the town of Awamiyah in Qatif. The victim was taken to a farm, beaten and then photographed before being allowed to go. He later told police his vehicle was also shot at.
The Police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack and have started to investigate. The Qatif Province has witnessed a number of attacks since the beginning of the week and the police have announced the death of a citizen and the injury of an eight year old child during a heavy exchange of fire initiated by rioters who shot security forces at the entrance of the village.
Rioters have also stolen a bulldozer which they used to sabotage the roads and hinder the policemen from entering the town. In addition to this, attackers kidnapped a citizen on the same day, took him to a farm where they beat him, stole his mobile phone and his car, and then photographed him before releasing him.
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi police forces killed four “terrorists” in the Eastern Province town of Al-Awamia on Saturday while attempting to arrest suspects wanted in connection to the fatal shooting of a soldier last week, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry announced.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that security authorities had raided a “terrorist stronghold” in the town, hailing cooperation from local residents that led to the swift discovery of those responsible for the shooting.
The Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that terrorists began firing at Saudi security forces, who returned fire.
“The incident resulted in the killing of four terrorists, among them the main person behind the killing of soldier Abdulaziz Bin Ahmed Al-Asiri,” the Interior Ministry spokesman added. The spokesman said that the Saudi security forces had sustained “moderate” wounds.
Asiri died after an assailant opened fire on a security checkpoint near Al-Awamia earlier this month. Saudi authorities opened a full-scale investigation into the attack and the Interior Ministry spokesman stressed that “the hand of justice will reach all those involved [in the attack],” following the killing of the “main person” behind the attack on Saturday.
Clerics, businessmen and other dignitaries from the city of Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province issued a statement condemning the “treacherous” killing of the Saudi soldier earlier this week. “We condemn the treacherous attack that led to the death of soldier Abdulaziz Ahmed Al-Asiri,” said the statement, which a thirty-strong delegation from the city handed to provincial governor Prince Saud Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz on Tuesday.
Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Clerics, businessmen and other dignitaries from the city of Qatif in the Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province issued a statement condemning the “treacherous” killing of a Saudi soldier by unknown gunmen near the town of Al-Awamiyah on Sunday.
“We condemn the treacherous attack that led to the death of soldier Abdulaziz Ahmed Al-Asiri,” said the statement, which a thirty-strong delegation from the city handed to the province’s governor Prince Saud Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz on Tuesday.
Asiri died after an unknown assailant opened fire on a security checkpoint near Al-Awamiyah on Sunday. Saudi authorities have opened an investigation into the attack.
Prince Saud welcomed Sheikh Abdullah Al-Khunaizi who headed the delegation, and said the Kingdom’s security services possessed the capability “to eliminate the criminal group” responsible for the attack.
The attack will not deter members of the Kingdom’s security forces, Prince Saud added.
The statement expressed appreciation for the role played by members of the security forces in countering terrorism and protecting the Kingdom’s security. The delegation reiterated that any attack on security force personnel represented a threat to national security and violated religious strictures which prohibited all kinds of aggression and criminalized violence and bloodshed.
Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Thespians from across the Gulf enjoyed the limelight during Saudi celebrations of Eid Al-Adha in the Eastern Province region with plays staged in Dammam and Tarout Island.
Al-Rehla (The Journey), a socio-comedy co-starring Saudi actors Mohamed Ali, Nayef Fayez, Fahd Al-Asfour and Abdulaziz Al-Ahmed, and directed by Dr. Khalid Al-Baz, was performed on Monday in Dammam.
Mohamed Al-Safyan, head of the organizing committee for the Eid festivities, said the Eastern Province also saw firework displays, folk bands from across the Kingdom, and children’s activities, including various competitions, across Dammam, Al-Khobar and Dhahran during the Eid period.
The Dawkhala theater on Tarout island, on Saudi Arabia’s east coast, will host the play Yaby Lahu (He Wants), a collaboration between actors from across the Gulf including Qatari Ghazi Hussein, Bahraini Ali Al-Ghurair, Kuwaiti Sha’aban Abbas and Saudi Faris Al-Khalidi. Kuwaiti play Al-Bouma (The Owl) sees Abdurrahman Al-Aql, Ahmed Al-Faraj, Sultan Al-Faraj and Mubarak al-Mane’a take to the stage.
The plays are being put on as part of the Dawkhala festival, held in the Senabis village on the island. The 10-day event is a revival of an ancient tradition when the island’s residents planted and cultivated wheat and barley seeds in the days before Eid Al-Adha. Pilgrims traveling to Mecca carried the baskets and seedling pots to the holy city and back to Senabis. On their return, the seedlings were thrown into the sea while locals chanted songs for their safe return.
Meanwhile, the nearby oasis region of Al-Ahsa held a six-day festival, ‘Our Eid in Uqair,’ on Uqair Beach. Local government official Abdullah Al-Arfaj said organizing these events was part of the Al-Ahsa municipality’s efforts to strengthen the town’s historical identity. Arfaj said the festivities also aimed at attracting tourists from inside and outside the Kingdom to visit Uqair Beach. “The area has become a prominent tourist attraction thanks to the Kingdom’s efforts, represented by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, and the funding provided to transform the shoreline into one that rivals other regional beaches.”
Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi authorities have initiated a crackdown against shisha cafes in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, as part of a larger national clampdown on public smoking.
Government inspectors are touring cities in the Eastern Province, penalizing cafes that fail to meet official regulations. Smoking water-pipe or shisha is a popular pastime in the country, and the latest crackdown follows reports that the government is considering a nationwide ban on smoking in public places. Saudi Arabia has previously taken steps in this direction, banning shisha cafes in Jeddah last year.
Dr. Khalifa Al-Sa’ad, General Director of the Environmental Health Department in the Eastern Province, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that a number of shisha cafes have been issued a deadline to comply with government restrictions or face closure, adding that a number of cafes have already been forcibly closed after their deadline passed. Arab News reported on Thursday that at least three popular shisha cafes in the Eastern Province were shut down following a raid carried out by the municipality.
Dr. Sa’ad told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We will not show leniency in this regard, nor will we set another deadline.” He confirmed that the latest crackdown comes in response to a Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs decree which stipulated that shisha cafes must be moved outside residential areas.
“These cafes must also be at least 500 yards from the nearest mosque or school. However, the majority of cafes are in breach of this regulation, so some have been shut down, while others have been granted a deadline to rectify their status,” Dr. Sa’ad said.
He confirmed that “this week, we are conducting an intense inspection campaign and are determined to ensure that no illegal cafes remain.”
Sa’ad justified the tough measures enacted in the Eastern Province by citing the “proliferation of shisha cafes in residential areas and the effect this is having on local students and teenagers, as well as local residents in general.”
Asked about the response to the municipalities inspection campaigns, he said: “Our plan for this week is for 70 percent of shisha cafes to comply with regulations, in the hope that all cafes will comply with government regulations in the near future.”
There are an estimated 150 shisha cafes in the Eastern Province capital of Dammam alone, in addition to approximately 150 other shisha cafes across the region.
Smoking shisha is widely believed to be less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but a recent medical study by the American University of Beirut concluded that the effects of shisha smoking are actually more serious. The study also confirmed that second-hand shisha smoke is far more hazardous than second-hand cigarette smoke.
Recent medical reports claimed that shisha tobacco, which is usually flavored with molasses, contains on average 4,000 chemicals, including 60 known carcinogens. Medical experts say that shisha is a major cause of cancer in the Middle East.
Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Eastern Province police force announced that its headquarters in the town of Al-Awamiyah in Al-Qatif had been fired upon following the capture of a wanted fugitive.
Police in Saudi Arabia announced that they had shot and wounded Abdullah Al-Asrih, a man wanted over his involvement in protests. He was captured along with a second suspect arrested on charges of selling drugs and alcohol.
Just hours after the arrest, the Al-Awamiyah police station was fired on by unknown assailants; one policeman was injured in the attack. The policeman in question underwent surgery and is now said to be in a stable condition.
Asrih’s name was included on a list of 23 suspects wanted in connection with the Al-Qatif province, which broke out in February 2011.
Asrih is a 20-year old Shi’ite wanted in connection with the Al-Qatif protests; he is semi-unemployed, having previously worked as a market porter.
According to information in the possession of Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi security authorities have been able to arrest 12 out of the 21 suspects, including Abdullah Al-Asrih, while the police continue to pursue the remaining 11 fugitives.
A confrontation between Saudi security forces and the suspects took place in an area intended for selling used cars on the Al-Awamiyah–Al-Nasirah road near the agricultural area of Al-Ramis.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Al-Turki told reporters that police wounded both men in the legs during an exchange of fire. He added that both men were involved in drug and alcohol dealing, both of which are illegal in Saudi Arabia.
He emphasized that the Saudi security forces will not hesitate to pursue fugitives, calling on those wanted for questioning to give themselves up.
Al-Turki also warned that anybody who helps the remaining 11 fugitives avoid capture will face criminal prosecution.
Asharq Al-Awsat learned that Asrih had previously been expelled from his father’s house following a family dispute. His brother is also reportedly serving a prison sentence after being charged with murder, although this is not thought to be connected to the Al-Qatif protests.
Other reports claim that Asrih had close ties with Shia Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, considered to be the godfather of the 2011 riots.
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it had arrested eighteen people—sixteen Saudi nationals, one Lebanese national, and one Iranian—on espionage charges in four regions across the kingdom.
The Saudi Interior Ministry revealed that the 18 men had been arrested in Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province, adding that they had been conducting espionage activities for an as yet unnamed foreign state. The Ministry said that the men had been collecting information on vital Saudi national installations and infrastructure on behalf of a foreign intelligence agency. Although Riyadh has refused to reveal further information about this foreign intelligence agency, all information indicates that this espionage cell was working for Tehran.
Saudi Interior Ministry Spokesman, Major General Mansour Al-Turki, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the 18 suspected spies are still being questioned.
He also denied that the detainees have any ties to the “deviant group”, which is Saudi government terminology reserved for the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
Speaking to state television yesterday, Al-Turki confirmed that the 18 men had been apprehended in the process of actively gathering information about vital national infrastructure which they were then sending to a foreign intelligence agency.
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, founder and chairman of the Gulf Research Center, told Asharq Al-Awsat that information indicates that the two foreign nationals—an Iranian and Lebanese—were tasked with receiving and sending information. He added that the Saudi nationals—including doctors and university professors—were tasked with collecting this information. This information included details about the health of prominent Saudi nationals, vital national infrastructure, as well as general information regarding public opinion and views.
Sager also emphasized the geographic distribution of this espionage cell, particularly as its members were reportedly spread across 4 strategically important Saudi regions. He said that cell members were arrested in the capital Riyadh, center of political and economic information, the economically important Eastern Province, and the religious centers of Mecca and Medina. He asserted that the cell could also have sought to exploit and incite the communities in the Eastern Province, adding that Mecca and Medina are areas of convergence, particularly during the hajj and umra season.
He stressed that this cell’s primary mission would have been focused on gathering and relaying intelligence, not sabotage. Sager also cited the discovery of espionage cells in Kuwait, Yemen, and Bahrain, asserting that with the most recent arrest of this cell in Saudi Arabia, this demonstrates the existence of an extensive espionage network across the Arab Gulf.
Dr. Sager also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the arrest of this espionage cell has international dimensions, adding that this represents blatant interference on the part of Iran. He said that it was not out of the question that the Iranian and Lebanese individuals had benefited from ethnic and sectarian considerations to obtain this intelligence.
A high-level Saudi security source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that Saudi intelligence cannot ignore the uncovering of espionage cells in Yemen, Bahrain, and Kuwait, as well as Yemen’s interception of a ship carrying Iranian arms in January. He said that investigations remain underway to discover whether the espionage cell uncovered in Saudi Arabia had anything to do with this.
The source also emphasized that the diversity of nationalities, particularly nationalities with strong ties to Iran, represents a strong indication that Saudi Arabian security and stability is being targeted by Tehran.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Marzouk, a Kuwaiti researcher specializing in Iranian affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat that all signs indicate that Iran is behind the group arrested in Saudi Arabia. He revealed that Tehran has been working to revive the historical Persian anti-Arab approach, adding that the Iranians consider this to be a key part of their foreign policy approach towards the region.
He stressed that Iran is seeking to export its revolutionary ideology and interfere in the internal affairs of Arab states by inciting sectarian conflict. As for Tehran’s objective, Dr. Marzouk said that this is to create instability and strengthen the influence of Iran’s sectarian and ideological agents in the region with the ultimate purpose of imposing Iranian hegemony on the region. He emphasized that this approach is based on the vision of the velayat e-faqih, Iranian Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei.