Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Major General Mansur al-Turki, the Saudi Interior Ministry’s security spokesman, has disclosed that the plans of the terrorist cell which intended to target oil and security installations in the Eastern Province had reached advanced stages and sought the help of elements from Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa to carry out these attacks.
He reported that the arrests of all 701 terrorist elements which Saudi Arabia announced yesterday were carried out without any worthwhile resistance and said: “We were able to arrest them before they could carry out any action which might drag us into armed confrontations with them.” He attributed the absence of any confrontations during the security operations that led to the arrest of hundreds of Al-Qaeda organization elements inside his country to two main reasons. The first is the “professionalism with which the security organs dealt with them” and the second is the “success of the security men in reaching the terrorist elements before the readiness stage which directly precedes implementation.” Maj. Gen. Al-Turki underlined his country’s determination to combat terrorism which he said “is a quest that has not stopped since the May 2003 events and until the issuance of today’s (yesterday) statement.” He referred to the Saudi Interior Ministry’s announcement that one group arrested had direct connection with the elements with which Saudi security engaged before five years when they formed a (financial and logistical) support cell for the terrorism. He said this group was known to the security organs and was brought down during the series of arrests of the past six months.
The security official talked about the big role played by the country’s society “which helped foil the terrorists’ plans” and said “every security action is essentially based on a single piece of information. The citizens had naturally a big role in providing it.”
The official spokesman went on to say that the five cells which were recently arrested were in contact with the Al-Qaeda organization leaders and added that the organization’s members inside and outside Saudi Arabia were in constant contact to revive the terrorist operations inside Saudi Arabia. He revealed that the fifth cell whose members were recruited outside Saudi Arabia and who were arrested in the Eastern Province among the 520 individuals whose arrest was disclosed by the Saudi security authorities yesterday was targeting prominent oil and industrial installations in the Eastern Province.
He added that the cell’s task was to target the country’s vital installations and said: “This cell’s members were planning to target prominent economic installations.” While Maj. Gen. Al-Turki did not specifically name these installations, he pointed out that most of the sensitive oil installations were included in this cell’s plans. He pointed out that “the investigations also revealed that the targeting of security positions and security men inside the Eastern Province was among this cell’s tasks” and stressed that the cell’s leaders benefited from the pilgrimage and visits to the holy places facilities to bring the cell members into the country.
It recruited its members outside Saudi Arabia. He then said that the “main task of the arrested cells was to revive the terrorist activity inside Saudi Arabia” and noted that a booklet entitled “Ruling the Wilderness” seized with these cells’ members painted a picture of the situation in which the country would be after carrying out a series of terrorist operations and creating some kind of chaos in the country. He pointed out that the organization’s terrorist abilities were totally destroyed during the past stage and it was unable to carry out any terrorist operation inside Saudi Arabia for some time and this made these cells rebuilt the terror infrastructure inside Saudi society, resume terrorist activity, and create a troubled situation to help them implement the plans from abroad under which they operate.
Al-Turki did not disclose in his statements to Asharq Al-Awsat the type of weapons seized with the organization’s cells or the number of Saudis or non-citizens in this operation and said “181 were released because there was no material evidence that they had links with Al-Qaeda and stressed the interior ministry might re-arrest any of them if it obtains new evidence of their involvement on terrorist activity or ideology that adopts Al-Qaeda’s course inside the country. He added that the security successes announced were the result of a security effort carried out over the past six months.