Dubai: Saudi Arabia said on Monday it has uncovered a Daesh-linked terrorist network that was involved in past attacks in the kingdom and was planning future attacks against citizens, scholars, security men and security, military and economic facilities in different locations.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al Turki said in a press conference Monday that 17 suspects — among them one Saudi woman — were arrested in the months-long sweep.
Eleven of the group are Saudi citizens, while the others are three Yemenis, two Egyptians and a Palestinian.
The cells in the network had allegedly been active in the preparation and processing of explosive belts and explosive devices to be used in their operations, providing logistical support such as shelter to wanted people, and providing them with money, weapons and means of transport inside the kingdom.
Other activities the group is accused of include monitoring targeted sites, providing electronic and media support for the organisation, and communicating with its leaders abroad in all activities.
Authorities said the suspects have also been linked to other crimes that have occurred in the past.
Four of the operations thwarted were in advanced stages of preparation.
One attack would have targeted an employee of the Ministry of Defence in Riyadh in February with a car bomb. Another would have targeted students training in public security by placing an explosive device at the gate, to be detonated remotely, also in February.
The third thwarted plot involved the delivery of two suicide vests, also in February.
The fourth operation was a suicide attack planned for January on religious sites in Al Ahsa province, home to a large number of Shiites, as well as military sites belonging to the National Guard.
The suspected terrorists had sent the coordinates of the sites to Daesh operatives abroad for selection, officials said.
The cell was also tasked with monitoring the Imam Redha Shiite mosque, which was attacked in January, killing four people.
Preliminary investigations revealed the involvement of the network in a number of crimes.
One case involved the harbouring, ahead of the act, the perpetrators who bombed Imam Redha mosque — an Egyptian and the Saudi suicide bomber — providing them with two suicide vests and training them on how to wear these vests. The suspects also secured automatic weapons for the attacks, and transferred them to Al Ahsa province to perform the operation.
Another case involved the blowing up of a car belonging to personnel of ground forces in the Aziziyah neighbourhood of Riyadh in February with the use of an explosive device.
A third involved monitoring a security checkpoint on the road to Al Ha’ir in Riyadh which was targeted on the night of Eid Al Fitr by a suicide bomber.
And a fourth involved the participation in a failed attempt to blow up the oil pipeline north of “Labkhah and Hoitah” in Dawadmi, carried out by a suspect who was killed on May 5.
A fifth operation involved a suspect who had coordinated with the Yemeni killer of retired Brigadier Ahmad Al Asiri before the attack.
A sixth operation involved suspects monitoring scholars and security centres to be targeted by terrorist operations that did not exceed stages of preparation.
The security operations resulted in the seizure of highly explosive devices including sticky bombs weighing 19,620kg, explosive belts ready for detonation, weighing 7,520kg, metal pipes used as explosive devices, automatic weapons, silencers, live ammunition and a sum of money exceeding 600,000 Saudi Riyals.
“The Ministry of Interior confirmed that the enemies of the Kingdom are targeting its faith, security and people, and still seeking various ways and means to achieve their goals, but Allah Almighty with His grace foiled their attempts, and this country will continue to be immune against all plots.” reported the state news agency SPA.
— with inputs from agencies