88 extremists nabbed
Security forces recently arrested 88 extremists in different locations across the country, an official confirmed on Tuesday.
All of the suspects were Saudi, with the exception of three Yemenis, while the identity of one of the suspects has yet to be established, said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki in Riyadh on Tuesday. “Eight of the suspects were arrested last week and another man later turned himself in,” he said.
The suspects operated throughout 10 separate cells, including in the village of Tamir, where 13 Saudis had been based, and Makkah, where the three Yemenis had been operating. Six cells with 51 members operated in Makkah, Riyadh, the Eastern Province and Qassim.
Their activities had been monitored by security forces for months.
Some of these men were found to be in constant touch with terrorists stationed outside the Kingdom. One of the suspects had been tasked with writing Friday sermons for terrorists abroad. “One cell with five members was busted in the Asir province in the past two weeks,” said Al-Turki.
“These men also used to recruit Saudi youths to fight in conflict zones abroad,” he said.
Security forces also learned that some cells had been plotting to assassinate important social figures.
“A total of 59 of these suspects had been convicted and released after serving time for holding extremist views,” said Al-Turki.
“Many, nevertheless, went back to their old ways following their release from prison. Several had been attempting to travel abroad despite a travel ban, while others had simply resumed operations within the Kingdom.”
“They were arrested after having been convinced that their detention was essential to spare society from the plots they would have executed had they remained free.”
“The ongoing turmoil in neighboring countries has provided a breeding ground for extremists and advocates of dissident ideologies,” he said.
“Additional investigation is required to determine the precise nature of the crimes committed by each of the defendants. The arrests were made in line with a royal decree issued earlier this year blacklisting extremist religious or ideological groups. Some of these organizations had already been already blacklisted domestically, regionally or internationally.”
The royal decree year calls for imprisoning anyone involved in fighting abroad for three to 20 years. Suspects involved with any local or international terrorist organizations, either financially or by spreading extremist ideologies through speeches or written literature, will also be put away, according to the decree.
Turki denied that some of the workers at the rehab center were former extremists.