Saudi Arabia Says Oil-Attack Plot Disrupted, Hundreds Arrested
By VOA News
25 June 2008
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry says authorities have disrupted terrorist attack plans targeting the kingdom's oil industry and arrested more than 700 militants in a yearlong series of raids aimed at al-Qaida members and supporters.
An official statement broadcast Wednesday from Riyadh says security forces rounded up 701 suspects over the past year. Some were released later, but Saudi authorities say 520 people, including militants from north Africa, Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq, are still in custody.
The Saudi statement says terrorists were planning car-bomb explosions and attacks on security forces in a campaign to cripple the kingdom's oil industry. Few details were released, but Saudi television showed a cache of weapons recovered from a desert hiding place.
Authorities say security forces seized arms, ammunition and cash and also recovered a message from Osama bin Laden's top deputy in al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, encouraging terrorist recruits in Saudi Arabia and promising to send more fighters to join them from abroad.
The recorded message was seized during the arrest of a leader of an al-Qaida cell in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province.
The Interior Ministry said separate groups of militants were assigned to attack targets in the Red Sea port of Yanbu and other locations.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be in hiding in South Asia. The kingdom has been an attack target for al-Qaida, which Saudi authorities refer to as "the deviant ideology," since 2003. During that time hundreds of people - both Saudi nationals and foreigners, most of them oil-industry workers - have been killed.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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