Saudis foil Al Qaeda terrorist plots, arrest 208

Saudi Arabia said it has pre-empted a terrorist attack on its oil facilities in the eastern region of the country with the arrest of eight suspects said to be linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 29 -- Saudi Arabia said it has pre-empted a terrorist attack on its oil facilities in the eastern region of the country with the arrest of eight suspects said to be linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

An Interior Ministry statement said the eight were part of a terrorist cell led by a non-Saudi man, who also was arrested. It said the arrest of the eight pre-empted an imminent attack on an (unnamed) oil installation.

The ministry said the men were arrested as part of a security sweep that netted some 208 suspects either for plotting various terrorist activities in the country or supporting the Al Qaeda network.

One group of 18 suspects, led by an alleged expert in launching missiles, was arrested separately. "They were planning to smuggle eight missiles into the kingdom to carry out terrorist operations," the ministry said.

In August, Saudi Arabia announced plans to establish a 35,000-person strong special force to protect its oil facilities due to the increasing threats against them by the Al Qaeda network.

In April, Saudi authorities conducted a sweep that netted 172 alleged militants, including pilots authorities said were trained for attacks on oil refineries using civilian airplanes (OGJ Online, Apr. 27, 2007).

There have been several terrorist attacks on the country's facilities in recent years linked to the Al Qaeda network.

In February 2006, Saudi officials confirmed that a terrorist attack failed to disrupt operation of the Abqaiq crude oil processing facility, which handles as much as two thirds of the country's production and most of its exports from the Persian Gulf (OGJ Online, Feb. 24, 2006).

In May 2004, Saudi Arabian officials pledged better security in the country after a terrorist attack at its oil and petrochemical hub at Yanbu on the Red Sea, which left 6 dead and as many as 33 wounded (OGJ Online, May 03, 2004).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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