'Terror' suspects arrested in Saudi

The Saudi Interior Ministry has announced the capture of several “terror” suspects as well as the seizure of caches of arms and munitions in Riyadh and Jeddah.

    Crown Prince Abd al-Aziz issued a stern warning to "terrorist criminals"

    A ministry spokesman, quoted by the official SPA news agency, did not mention the exact number of suspects arrested.

    “Certain people wanted in the hunt have been caught and a manhunt has been launched to arrest those still on the run,” the spokesman said.

    Large amounts of arms, include C4 plastic explosives, bombs, machineguns, bullets and products used to make bombs and explosives were seized.

    Warning

    Saudi Deputy Premier Crown Prince, Abd Allah bin Abd al-Aziz, warned that a “handful of terrorists and criminals wanted to destroy relations between Muslims and others by distorting the image of Islam”, the Saudi Gazette reported on Monday.

    Abd al-Aziz said the “tiny group” needed to be combated.  “The natural abode of a Muslim is not in dark caves or terrorist hideouts,” he said.

    Saudi Arabia has come under intense US pressure to clamp down on Islamists after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

    Pressure

    Internally, the monarchy has also received pressure for political reforms to take place.

    Last month, a group of more than 300 Saudis, including women, called on their crown prince to implement social and political reforms.

    A group of 300 Saudis, mainly intellectuals, in a petition to the crown prince, has called for reforms

    “It is necessary to begin a process of radical and overall reforms,” said 305 signatories of a petition sent to Crown Prince Abd Allah bin Abd al-Aziz last week entitled For the Defence of the Homeland.
     
    The signatories, who included intellectuals, academics and businessmen, condemned “terrorism in all its forms”, but said “the delay in adopting radical reforms and the absence of popular consultation in decision-making are among the leading causes behind the dangerous change the country has seen."
     
    In January this year, a similar petition was sent to the crown prince.
     
    In it, more than 100 Saudi intellectuals called for a separation of powers, an elected parliament instead of the current appointed Shura (Consultative) Council, and the creation of civil society institutions that would promote a culture of tolerance and dialogue.

    Elections

    Two weeks ago, the Saudi cabinet announced its intention to hold its first election.

    The decision also coincided with the opening of the first human rights conference in Riyadh.

    "The council of ministers decided to widen participation of citizens in running local affairs through elections by activating municipal councils, with half the members of each council being elected," the state news agency SPA said.

    However, London-based Saudi dissident Dr Muhammad al-Massari, speaking to Aljazeera.net, dismissed the announcement as "window dressing". "If we can be assured that the elections will be clean and fair some regions might benefit", he said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.