Saudis, citing oil attack plans, arrest 172

Saudi Arabia's ministry of interior Apr. 27 announced the arrest of 172 Islamic militants it said were plotting to attack the country's oil installations.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 27 -- Saudi Arabia's ministry of interior Apr. 27 announced the arrest of 172 Islamic militants it said were plotting to attack the country's oil installations.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki said the militants had reached an advanced stage of readiness. He said that, apart from setting the exact time, the militants had the personnel, money, arms, and all the necessary elements for terror attacks.

The ministry, in a statement read on state television, said police seized weapons and more than 20 million riyals ($7 million) in cash from seven armed cells.

"Some had begun training on the use of weapons, and some were sent to other countries to study aviation in preparation to use them to carry out terrorist operations inside the kingdom," the statement said.

"One of their main targets was to carry out suicide attacks against public figures and oil installations and to target military bases inside and outside (the country)," it added.

Regarding the latest arrests, al-Turki said: "It is obvious that the deviant group is still trying to revive its criminal activities in the kingdom."

Last year, Saudi officials said a terrorist attack failed to disrupt operation of Saudi Arabia's 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 2004, Saudi Arabian officials pledged better security in the country after a terrorist attack at its oil and petrochemical hub of Yanbu on the Red Sea left 6 dead and up to 33 wounded (OGJ Online, May 3, 2004).

In 2003, Islamist militants swearing allegiance to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization launched a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-allied Saudi monarchy in 2003, carrying out suicide bomb attacks on foreigners and government installations, including the oil industry (OGJ, May 19, 2003, Newsletter).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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