Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained new information about the 19 Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist cells that Saudi authorities dismantled over the past 8 months, arresting 149 terrorist suspects, and particularly the roles played by non-Saudi nationals in these terrorist cells.
According to the information received by Asharq Al-Awsat from informed sources, the non-Saudi nationals who were members of the 19 dismantled Al Qaeda affiliated cells were tasked with 6 main roles.
Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the vast majority of non-Saudis nationals were a key part of the connection, communication and coordination between Al Qaeda and its different branches. This is in order to carry out specific tasks ordered by Al Qaeda, or carry out specific missions.” Saudi Arabia recently announced that it had dismantled 19 terrorist cells, arresting 149 terrorists, 25 of whom were non-Saudi nationals.
Asharq Al-Awsat also learnt that Al Qaeda used the floods in Pakistan as a cover in order to collect funds for al-Qaeda to support its operations. Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that non-Saudi nationals played a key role in this area by “organizing sleeper cells to collect funds under the guise of charitable work to support poverty-stricken Muslims women and children in areas of conflict or natural disasters.”
Whilst non-Saudi elements play a clear role in Al Qaeda, it is notable that they were not to participate directly in carrying out any terrorist plots. Sources attributed this decision to Al Qaeda’s concerns that a terrorist cell would be more likely to be uncovered by the Saudi authorities if non-Saudi nationals were playing a direct role. The 19 terrorist cells aimed to spread chaos throughout Saudi Arabia by carrying out a number of suicide attacks targeting military institutions, as well as assassinating high ranking government officials, security officers, and even media figures.
Riyadh announced that Saudi authorities had arrested 25 non-Saudi nations, in addition to 124 Saudi nationals. Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the non-Saudi nationals were tasked with “forming and leading [terrorist] cells, as well as supervising the recruitment of Saudi nationals.” In addition to this, these non-Saudi nationals were also tasked with “coordinating the travel arrangements of deceived recruits, sending them to troubled regions for training or to participate in al-Qaeda activities and crimes.”
The non-Saudi nationals were the crucial link between the Al Qaeda affiliated cells within Saudi Arabia and the Al Qaeda leadership abroad. Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that these non-Saudi nationals “provided information to Al Qaeda and its branches about all matters of interest” and that they also “received instructions and carried out orders from the Al Qaeda organization [abroad]…occasionally participating in implementing specific terrorist plots carried out by the cell that they belong to,”
According to Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki, these 19 terrorist cells had four major goals which included “publishing takfirist ideology, facilitating recruiters transferring cells to troubled regions, carrying out criminal operations that aim to spread chaos and destabilize security, and raise funds to support Al Qaeda, both at home and abroad.”
10 of the 19 terrorist cells were part of 3 larger terrorist networks; whilst the 9 remaining cells were operating independently of one another. Sources also indicate that 9 or 10 of the terrorist plots were “on the verge of implementation” and that Saudi Arabia’s security services intercepted these plots as they were reaching their final stages.
The first terrorist network consisted of 4 different cells comprising a total of 41 members; one of these cells was planning to carry out operations that target security officials and installations, whilst another cell was targeting security officers.
The second terrorist network was made up 3 different cells comprising a total of 24 members; these cells had a number of objectives including carrying out terrorist operations targeting security figures and military sites, as well as publicizing Al Qaeda ideology and raising funds.
The third terrorist network was made up of 2 different cells comprising 16 members; this network aimed to carry out terrorist operations targeting security figures.
As for the remaining 9 terrorist cells comprising 79 members, these operated independently of one another. 3 of these cells had direct links with the Al Qaeda organizations, and specialized in manufacturing explosives and providing training in bomb-making, as well as providing explosives which was to be used to target security officials and military sites.
In total, 11 of the recently dismantled cells included non-Saudi nationals.
Terrorist Cell No 2 was made up of 6 members, 3 of whom were non-Saudi nations. Its mission was to coordinate and facilitate the travel of deceived recruits to troubled regions.
Terrorist Cell No 3 was made up of one non-Saudi national, believed to be the Emir of the group, and 7 Saudi nationals. Its mission was to spread Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia ideology and help finance the organization.
Terrorist Cell No 9 was made up of a total of 14 members, only 1 of whom was a non-Saudi national, and who is believed to be the Emir of the group. Its mission was to recruit new fighters and coordinate and facilitate their travel abroad, as well as spreading Al Qaeda ideology in Saudi Arabia and provide financing.
Terrorist Cell No 10 was made up of both Saudi and non-Saudi nationals, although sources are not clear on their number. Its mission was to carry out terrorist plots against Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus.
Terrorist Cell No 11 was made up of 4 non-Saudi nationals and 1 Saudi national. Its mission was to obtain financing for Al Qaeda activities.
Terrorist Cell No 12 was made up of 6 non-Saudi nationals, and was the only cell that was completely made up of non-Saudi nationals. This cell had a direct link to the Al Qaeda organization abroad.
Terrorist Cell No 14 was made up of 6 Saudi nationals and 1 non-Saudi national. Its mission was to carry out operations targeting Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus, as well manufacture explosives and facilitate the travel of deceived recruits to troubled regions. This cell also had a direct link to the Al Qaeda organization abroad.
Terrorist Cell No 14 was made up of 18 Saudi nationals and 3 non-Saudi nationals. This cell was tasked with recruiting and financing. It also coordinated and facilitated the travel of deceived recruits abroad and had a direct link to Al Qaeda.
Terrorist Cell No 16 was made up 12 Saudi nationals and 1 non-Saudi national. Its mission was to recruit fighters, provide training with regards to manufacturing explosives, help finance Al Qaeda activity, and coordinate and facilitate the travel of deceived recruits to troubled regions abroad.
Terrorist Cell No 18 was made up of 4 Saudi nationals and 2 non-Saudi nationals. Its mission was to carry out a terrorist plot to assassinate certain figures, as well as coordinate and facilitate the travel of deceived recruits to troubled regions abroad and help finance Al Qaeda activity.
Terrorist Cell No19 was made up of 3 Saudi nationals and 1 non-Saudi national. Its mission was to carry out terrorist attacks targeting government institutions, provide weapons and bomb-making training, in addition to help coordinate and facilitate the travel of deceived recruits to troubled regions abroad and help finance Al Qaeda activity.