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Middle East
Saudis arrest 149 terror suspects
Authorities have arrested 124 Saudis and 25 foreigners, who were planning attacks on government and security officials.
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2010 05:20 GMT

Foreign-linked cells in Saudi Arabia were involved in collecting more than $0.5m to support al-Qaeda [REUTERS]

Saudi Arabia has arrested 149 suspects linked to al-Qaeda, who were planning attacks on government and security officials, as well as on journalists.

"During the past eight months ... 124 Saudis and the other 25 foreigners - have been arrested," General Mansur al-Turki, interior ministry spokesman, told reporters on Friday.

Al-Turki said the cells had links with al-Qaeda groups in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

The foreigners arrested included Africans and South Asians, and one woman was among the suspects, he said.

Their activities were spread across 19 cells in the early stages of formation that were dismantled by Saudi authorities.

Documents and weapons to carry out the attacks were also uncovered, the interior ministry said, adding that the kingdom has contacted Interpol for the arrest of others linked to the plans.

"Another chapter"

Al-Turki has told Al Jazeera that the recent crackdown is part of a "continuation effort" against al-Qaeda.

"I see it as a continuation effort. It is not an isolated incident or special case. This is another chapter of the war that Saudi Arabia has launched against terrorist cells belonging to al-Qaeda."

He also said the arrests came amid a Saudi public movement against the group.  

"They (Al Qaeda) are a fraction of the society that is being fought and targeted by the masses. It is no longer an elitist effort by the government.

"This is a popular effort by all Saudis. You will not meet many Saudis who will be sympathetic with or supportive of them in public or private anymore," Turki said.

The arrests announced on Friday follow one of the country's largest crackdowns on al-Qaeda earlier this year.

In March, the kingdom arrested 113 al-Qaeda members including alleged suicide bombers who it said had been planning attacks on energy facilities in the world's top oil-exporting country.

On October 5, al-Qaeda operatives threatened to launch fresh attacks on Saudi royal family members in a video message posted on the Internet to mark a 2009 aborted bombing that had targeted the interior minister.

Source:
Al Jazeera & agencies
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