Saudi-Arabia har rullet opp sju terrorceller som var klar til å bruke fly for å angripe mål, sette inn selvmordsbombere og befri fanger. Oljeinstallasjoner, offisielle personer og mål i utlandet nevnes.
Opprullingen av så mange personer som hadde kommet så langt i planleggingen, er et stort prestisjetap for myndighetene, som liker å hevde at trusselen er eliminert. Det tyder på at det vokser frem nye terrorceller på hjemlig grunn.
Noen av de arresterte skal ha tatt flyinstruksjon i utlandet, og ikke alle er saudi-arabere.
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia announced Friday that an anti-terrorism sweep netted 172 Islamic extremists and stopped plans to mount air attacks on the kingdom’s oil refineries, break militants out of jail and send suicide attackers to kill government officials.
An official said the plotters had completed preparations for their attacks, and all that remained to put the plot in motion «was to set the zero hour.»
It was one of the biggest roundups since Saudi leaders began cracking down on religious extremists four years ago after militants attacked foreigners and others involved in the country’s oil industry seeking to topple the monarchy for its alliance with the U.S.
But while the monthslong police operation provided a high-profile victory for the royal family, the large number of people arrested highlighted the extremism threat in the world’s leading oil exporter.
The Interior Ministry said the plotters were organized into seven cells and planned to stage suicide attacks on «public figures, oil facilities, refineries … and military zones,» including some outside the kingdom. It did not identify any of the targets.
The militants also planned to storm Saudi prisons to free jailed militants, the ministry’s statement said.
«They had reached an advance stage of readiness, and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks,» the ministry’s spokesman, Brig. Mansour al-Turki, told The Associated Press in a phone call. «They had the personnel, the money, the arms. Almost all the elements for terror attacks were complete except for setting the zero hour for the attacks.»