Saturday, November 27, 2010

"The Kingdom" busts accused terrorists - and 60,000 beggars

Saudi Arabia claims that over the past eight months, they have arrested dozens of "Al Qa'ida" militants planning terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and other misdeeds. Caryle Murphy reports in Saudi Arabia arrests 149 Al Qaeda militants GlobalPost 11/26/2010:

Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested 149 alleged Al Qaeda activists organized into 19 different cells – many of them linked to Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch, one of the terrorist movement’s most aggressive affiliates, security officials said Friday. ...

"The majority had links with Al Qaeda in Yemen," Interior Ministry Spokesman Gen. Mansour al Turki told reporters. In most cases, he added, the organization recruited Saudis who "were supposed to carry out plots designed by Al Qaeda in Yemen to be executed inside Saudi Arabia." ...

The arrests sent a dual message. On the one hand, they demonstrate the continuing appeal of Al Qaeda's extremist ideology for some Saudis, as well as the determination of Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, to strike inside the kingdom.

On the other hand, the arrests suggest that Saudi security forces are managing to detect militant activities before they become fully operational.
It's hard to know what connection if any these claimed Al Qa'ida members have with Bin Laden's original organization.

These 149 arrests apparently include 100 from last March. See Foiled 'terror' plots in 2010 Aljazeera English 11/27/2010.

Juan Cole adds:

Aljazeera Arabic is reporting that some intended to hit petroleum facilities but Saudi officials are downplaying that charge. (Oil investors are nervous creatures and Riyadh doesn’t want a spike in petroleum futures that would accelerate even further the rush to build wind turbines in the West.

I found it amusing that the Aljazeera Arabic report says that the suspects were accused by Saudi officials of spreading hate speech and encouraging the denunciation of other Muslims as infidels. In the 18th century, the Wahhabi school of Islam was denounced by the urbane Ottoman sultans in Istanbul on precisely these grounds. But Wahhabism is changing, and trying to escape the shadow of al-Qaeda. For one thing, Wahhabis have had a more than two century-old alliance with the Saudi dynasty, whereas al-Qaeda wants to overthrow it.
See also Abdul Nabi Shaheen, Saudi forces hailed for foiling attacks Gulf News 11/28/2010;

Also in Saudi Arabian news: Saudi Arabia police round up 60,000 beggars Gulf News 11/25/2010.

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