Briton, American arrested in Saudi Arabia
Saudi security forces have detained two expatriates for questioning. The two continue to be held in a jail in Jeddah for as yet unspecified reasons, Arab News reported Saturday.
David Heaton, a British national and convert to Islam, and Abdullatif Ibrahim Bilal, a US national, were taken into custody for questioning last Thursday.
“We confirm that David Heaton is currently being detained,” Barry Peach, a spokesman for the British Embassy, told Arab News.
“The embassy has requested a counselor to assist Heaton and has been in touch with his next of kin, but up to now we have no details as to why he’s being detained,” he added.
Abdullatif Ibrahim Bilal’s father said his son was picked up on Thursday, but “I have no idea why. I got in touch with the US Embassy and they acknowledged that he has been detained but they didn’t know why.” “I just want to know why he was picked up. I know he didn’t do anything,” he added.
The two men were detained immediately after completing a scuba diving course during the month of Ramadan. Both were teachers.
Colleagues described Heaton as intense in his views.
Bilal is described as “very personable”. “But he is also a great conspiracy theorist, an intelligent guy who rarely strayed away from the subject of the US,” a teaching colleague said.
Bilal is a brother of Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal and Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, who were among the defendants in the so-called “Portland cell” case in the US.
Last September, both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to provide services to the Taliban, and conspiracy to possess and discharge firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence.
Ahmed Bilal faces 10 to 14 years in prison, and his brother faces eight to 14 years. They are both scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 9.