Saudi Arabia has arrested 431 people with suspected links to the ISIL and in the process thwarted a wave of suicide bombings that were to target mosques and security forces, the interior ministry announced on Saturday.
Authorities have “managed over the past few weeks to destroy an organization made of a cluster of cells, which is linked to the terrorist ISIL organization”, the interior ministry said.
“The number arrested to date is 431, most of them [Saudi] citizens, in addition to participants from other nationalities … six successive suicide operations which targeted mosques in the Eastern province on every Friday timed with assassinations of security men were thwarted,” a statement posted on the official SPA news agency said.
“Terrorist plots to target a diplomatic mission, security and government facilities in Sharurah province and the assassination of security men were thwarted,” the statement said.
Those arrested include people suspected of involvement in several attacks, including a suicide bombing in May that killed 22 people in the eastern village of al-Qudeeh, the deadliest militant assault in the kingdom in more than a decade. Some of the detained are also suspected of having links to the November killing of eight worshippers in the eastern Saudi village of al-Ahsa and for another attack in late May, when a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew herself up in the parking lot of a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers, killing four.
Those behind a number of militant websites used in recruiting have also been arrested, the ministry said.
The announcement came days after a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint near the kingdom’s highest security prison on Thursday, killing the driver and wounding two security officials in an attack claimed by ISIL.