Saudi Arabia has said that it has uncovered an al-Qaeda group that has been plotting to assassinate officials and attack government and foreign targets.
The cell is made up of 62 members, including 59 Saudi fighters, a Yemeni, a Pakistani and a Palestinian, Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the country’s Interior Ministry, said during a televised briefing on Tuesday.
An investigation into social media postings “led security forces after months of hard work to pinpoint suspicious activities that unveiled a terrorist organisation through which the elements of al-Qaeda in Yemen were communicating with their counterpart elements in Syria in coordination with a number of misguided [people] at home in various provinces of the kingdom”, al-Turki said.
Saudi Arabia was hit by a string of al-Qaeda-led attacks between 2003 to 2006 in which fighters targeted residential compounds for foreigners and Saudi government facilities, killing dozens of people.
The kingdom responded by arresting thousands of suspected fighters and launching a media campaign to discredit the groups’s ideology with the backing of influential Muslim leaders.
The courts have sentenced thousands of Saudi citizens to prison for similar offences over the past decade.
And in early April of this year, a Saudi court sentenced Faris al-Zahrani, a top al-Qaeda leader, to death for his role in the violence that erupted in the kingdom in 2003.