ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi authorities have arrested clerics accused
of being part of an Al Qaida cell that sent suicide bombers to attack
Western compounds in Riyad on May 12.
One of the suspects captured was identified as Ali Abdul Rahman Al
Ghamdi, believed to be the mastermind of the Riyad bombings and regarded as
a leading Al Qaida agent. Western diplomatic sources said the Al Qaida cell
in Saudi Arabia planned to carry out attacks in Europe and the United
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef
Bin Abdul Aziz said 11 fugitives, including three clerics and preachers, were detained
in the Saudi city of Medina in connection with insurgency attacks.
Meanwhile, the Saudi kingdom, besieged by threats from Al Qaida, has
established an elite security force battalion.
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz laid the foundation stone for
the headquarters of the second special security battalion earlier this
month. The headquarters is located in Mecca in the western portion of the
Prince Nayef said the detained clerics and preachers include Ali Fahd Al Khudair,
Ahmed Hamoud Mufreh Al Khaledi and Nasir Ahmed Al Fuhaid "who claim they are
muftis and sheiks. But they are far from it and they don't have any
Nayef said Saudi security agencies have identified six of the nine
suicide bombers in the May 12 attacks. The interior minister told a news
conference on Wednesday that four of those suicide bombers were members of a
19-member cell announced by authorities on May 6.
Officials said the security battalion contains 1,073 soldiers and 67 officers.
They said the battalion has been equipped with helicopters and other
platforms and was trained in special operations.
The special security battalion will be part of the National Guard, which
is headed by Abdullah. The crown prince said he hoped to develop the
National Guard along lines similar to that of the special security
"The National Guard units, along with other branches of the armed
forces, are the bulwark of the country and its hope for the future, and with
help and our hard work we will realize to what we have aspired," Abdullah
"There are very likely others out there planning parallel activities,
perhaps not even in direct communication with each other," U.S. ambassador
to Riyad, Robert Jordan, said. "So our concern about the threat level goes
far beyond the ability of one or two who may have escaped the attack of May
12 to carry out something else."