Two Saudis and six Yemenis were arrested and two other Saudis are being sought, said Sunday the spokesman for the Interior Ministry. The suspects were preparing attacks against Saudi security forces, foreign and public targets in the kingdom, the ministry said.
Between 2003 and 2006, the Saudi authorities carried out operations against Al Qaeda elements who launched attacks against oil installations and foreign targets. Hundreds of people were arrested as part of this campaign, which has reportedly eradicated the local branch of Al-Qaeda. The network, however, remained active in neighboring Yemen, where the Saudi and Yemeni branches merged in 2009 under the name of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
According to the Saudi Ministry, the authorities followed for months "suspects related to a foreign and deviant organization" – a term used for Al-Qaeda in the kingdom. The investigation revealed that preparations for attacks had reached "an advanced stage" and that the suspects had "prepared and tested explosives outside Riyadh." One member of the cell has been "burned and had his fingers amputated" by working on bombs, the ministry said.
The arrest of a Saudi who proved to be the leader of the Riyadh cell led to the arrest of the six Yemenis. Their confessions were then led to the dismantling of another cell in Jeddah, the second largest city of the kingdom, the ministry said. In a mosque located in the capital, police found "chemicals used to make explosives, mobile phones connected to remote control detonators, according to the statement.
The last attack by Al-Qaeda in the kingdom reported in August 2009, when a suicide bomber has targeted the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Mohammed bin Nayef.
In recent years, Saudi authorities have regularly announced the arrest of suspects being linked to al Qaeda. In April 2011, a judicial source had indicated that 5080 terrorist suspects were being tried or were tried before a special court.