Saudi Arabia claims it foiled ”mega-terror” attacks
Saudi security forces have arrested 172 suspected militants, some of whom had trained abroad as pilots so they could fly aircraft in attacks on the kingdom's oil fields, the Interior Ministry said Friday. A spokesman said all that remained in the plot "was to set the zero hour."
According to the AP, the ministry issued a statement saying the detainees were planning to carry out suicide atttacks against "public figures, oil facilities, refineries ... and military zones."
"They had reached an advance stage of readiness and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki told the Associated Press. "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."
The ministry's statement said some detainees had been "sent to other countries to study flying in preparation for using them to carry out terrorist attacks inside the kingdom."
The militants also planned to storm Saudi prisons to free the inmates, the statement said. More than $5.3 million was seized in the operation, one of the largest sweeps against terror cells in the kingdoms.
The Saudi statement said some of the military targets were outside the kingdom. Al-Turki said the arrests occurred "at various and successive times."
The Saudi state TV channel Al-Ekhbariah broadcast footage of large weapons cache discovered buried in the desert. The arms included bricks of plastic explosives, ammunition cartridges, handguns and rifles wrapped in plastic sheeting.