The Saudi government announced Tuesday that they arrested 93 suspects tied to an Islamic State group who stated their plans were multi-pronged attacks on our U.S. Embassy in Riyadh as well as security forces and residential compounds where other foreigners live.
The list acquired by Saudi forces is reminiscent of the attacks launched by al-Qaeda from 2004 – 2007 which killed dozens and threatened the stability of one of the world’s most important oil-producers in the world. The country’s Interior Minister spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki the Associated Press that they are much better prepared to fight back against these Islamic State groups now as they continue to provide assistance in the U.S. led coalition bombings of the group in Iraq and Syria.
He stated that there have been five IS-related attacks across the kingdom in recent months resulting in 15 civilian and security personnel deaths, although they have largely ignored the threats from these groups to “take up arms” against their government and attack the Shiite minority in their kingdom.
“We do have a number of people who do respond to such calls and do try to carry out such terrorist organizations’ orders, but these people do not represent the Saudi population, do not represent the 20 million Saudis,” he remarked in a previous AP interview a few days before the announcement of the arrests.
He said the raids included a small cell of about 65 people who were arrested in March, whose plans were to target residential compounds and prisons. Allegedly their plans were aimed at creating sectarian strife within the kingdom, yet all but two who were arrested were Saudi citizens.
They also disrupted a plot for a suicide bomber to attack the U.S. Embassy, after an informant contacted them about the mid-March plan, noting that two Syrians and a Saudi citizen were arrested. The timing of the alleged embassy attack coincides with the U.S. decision to halt all consular services starting March 15th at which time diplomatic missions in Jiddah and Dhahran would be suspended for a week due to security fears.
The Saudi government has now increased security in and around shopping center and oil installations in response to on-going threats to those type of locations. Al-Turki also stated that another group of nine Saudis, one of them a woman, were arrested for attempting to use social media to perpetrate an assassination attempt on a military officer.
They have also managed to foil the attempts of a IS group calling itself “Soldiers of the Land of the Two Holy mosques” who intended to desolate areas in the central ultra conservative region of al-Qassim. They had built explosives and were testing the bombs as well as engaging in firearms training.
Through concerted effort with coalition forces on the ground in their country, they have managed to foil the attempts of several IS groups over the last few months, including the capture of Al-Enezi, a known terrorist that was found about 100 km east of Riyadh after the announcement of a $267,000 reward had been offered for information leading to his arrest.
There have been many civilian and security personnel killed since January as ongoing efforts to limit the impact of the IS based groups continues (at least 12 have been noted), although a total of seven known IS related suspects have also died since their efforts began.