RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, (AP) – Saudi security officials have arrested eight Saudi men suspected of involvement in the February killing of four French nationals, an Interior Ministry statement said Wednesday.
The French, three men and one teenage boy, lived in Saudi Arabia and were reported to have lost their way while on a road leading to the holy city of Medina on the day of the shooting.
“The eight suspects were proven to be directly involved with the killers and to have cooperated with them,” the Saudi statement said. They were arrested in Medina, it added, but did not give the date of the arrests.
The statement also said an investigation revealed that Waleed bin Mutlaq al-Radadi — among the kingdom’s most wanted terrorists — was the mastermind and one of the triggermen in the shooting. Al-Radadi was killed on April 6 in a gunbattle with Saudi forces.
The investigation, the statement said, showed Al-Radadi was linked to a “deviant group,” a term used by Saudi officials in reference to the al-Qaeda network, and “took part in their activities and moved between their hideouts.”
The statement said al-Radadi was with a second suspect, identified as Majid bin Rashid al-Harbi, when they first saw the French asking for directions by the roadside. Al-Radadi then invited a third suspect, Abdullah bin Sayer al-Mohammadi, to join in the shooting. A fourth, Nasser al-Balawi, joined them later.
Al-Harbi, al-Mohammadi and al-Balawi are still at large.
Since the Frenchmen’s murders, police have said they have arrested several suspects linked to the case. It was unclear how many suspects in all are now in detention.