RIYADH, (AFP) — Saudi Arabia’s interior minister said his country had foiled 230 planned terror attacks in recent years, with only 10 actually being carried out, local press reported on Monday.
“Saudi Arabia is tackling terrorism with all its might and authorities have so far been successful in foiling 230 of the 240 terrorist attempts,” the Saudi Gazette quoted Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz as saying late on Sunday.
Naif, who is also second deputy prime minister did not specify the timeframe for the foiled attacks, but according to an interior ministry official, the number covers the period from 2003 to the present.
Speaking at the opening of The Saudi Moderate Approach conference at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Naif said extremism and terrorism were contrary to Islamic texts and traditions, the reports said.
“Terrorism has harmed our country and because of it we lost many of our sons,” Naif said, according to Al-Riyadh daily.
“We have approached it in a moderate way such as giving advice to those who have extremist thoughts to bring them back to their senses,” he said.
“This has contributed, thanks to God, in reducing the damage of terrorism and losses in life and property.”
In 2003 Al-Qaeda launched a series of attacks and assassinations inside Saudi Arabia that left more than 150 people dead, including attackers, over a three year period.
Answering a question about women involved in extremist groups, Naif suggested the cases were very few and that the women were being exploited by male extremists.
“Women are an important part of our society, and they have their rights and obligations,” he said, according to Al-Watan daily.
However, “we will not put the blame on her, because (extremism) takes place more among men than women. If it happens, then she was manipulated… these are very limited cases,” he added.
Earlier this year a woman was arrested as a central figure in an Al-Qaeda cell inside the country, giving rise to worries that Saudi women were being recruited into the group in significant numbers.
The woman, Heila al-Qusayer, was the widow of a Saudi Al-Qaeda activist killed six years earlier by the authorities.
The Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya described Qusayer, one of 113 suspects whose arrests were announced on March 24, as “the most dangerous woman” in Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.