RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has broken up a “major terrorist network” linked to Al Qaeda groups in Syria, Iraq and Yemen that was plotting attacks against government installations and foreign interests, authorities said.
The Interior Ministry said security forces had arrested 62 suspected members of the group, including three foreigners and 35 Saudis who had previously been detained on terrorist-related allegations and freed.
Members of the organisation have “links with extremist elements in Syria and Yemen,” the ministry said. Authorities were still hunting for 44.
The ministry spokesman, Major-General Mansour Al Turki, told reporters in the capital that the Saudi organisation had made direct contact with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an Al Qaeda-linked jihadi group fighting the Syrian government and other rebel groups.
The group had been targeting Saudi “government and foreign interests” and had planned “large-scale assassinations,” he said.
The arrests had been facilitated by “suspicious activities on social networks” — which are assumed to be closely monitored by Saudi intelligence.
“Elements of Al Qaeda in Yemen were communicating with their counterparts in Syria in coordination with misguided [people] at home in various provinces of the kingdom,” Al Turki added.
Security forces also dismantled a factory used to make explosives and electronic detonators and seized about SR1m (£156,000). The suspects had been involved in smuggling people and weapons across the southern Saudi border.
Saudis are officially banned from “participation in, calling for, or incitement to fighting in conflict zones in other countries” as well as calling for demonstrations or taking part in them.