Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi authorities have revealed that they have discovered an armed cache belonging to a recently dismantled Al Qaeda cell near Riyadh. Following the discovery of the weapons cache, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told Asharq Al-Awsat “the threat of Al Qaeda still stands.”
General Mansour al-Turki also revealed that this armed cache included 281 assault rifles and 51 boxes of ammunition.
In his statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, General al-Turki emphasized that the Saudi Arabian security forces had anticipated Al Qaeda’s plots and foiled them. The Interior Ministry spokesman said “Every time, the security apparatus confirms their professionalism in pursuing this deviant group and aborting its plans.”
General Mansour al-Turki also revealed that following interrogation the 44 members of the dismantled Al Qaeda affiliated cell [who were arrested on August 19] reveled that they were in possession of a large number of weapons and ammunition which they had concealed at a safe house belonging to one of the members living in Riyadh. The weapons cache discovered by the Saudi security apparatus was hidden inside what appeared to be a seating area constructed of reinforced concrete rising 0.5 meters from the ground.
When this Al Qaeda affiliated cell was originally arrested in August, police seized weapons and ammunition from three separate weapons cache located across Saudi Arabia. The weapons and ammunition originally seized upon this group’s arrest included around 70 machine guns, 376 electronic detonators, and more than 31,000 rounds of ammunition.
The 44 members of this cell– 43 Saudi nationals and one foreign national – include members who hold high academic qualifications and advanced technical expertise. Asharq Al-Awsat previously reported that 30 of the 44 high-ranking Al Qaeda members hold university degrees, including some Masters and PhD’s, while others are engineering specialists. It was also revealed that some of those arrested received training in light and heavy weaponry, and techniques for preparing explosives and document forgery.
An Interior Ministry statement previously described the 44 Al Qaeda affiliated figures as being “followers of deviant ideology and supporters of criminal activity…attempting to achieve its [Al Qaeda’s] goals of disseminating deviant ideology through corrupting the youth and exploiting charity work to finance their deviant activities.”
According to the security statements, members of the Al Qaeda network can be considered “to be behind the majority of terrorist acts witnessed by Saudi Arabia over the past few years.”
A bloody Al-Qaeda campaign of assassinations and bombings between 2003 and 2006 killed more than 150 Saudis and foreigners in Saudi Arabia, and was followed by a sweeping roundup of some 9,000 suspects.