Saudis capture 100 Al Qaida suspects

Monday, July 28, 2003

ABU DHABI The number of suspected Al Qaida insurgents detained in Saudi Arabia has risen to 240.

Saudi officials said more than 100 Al Qaida suspects were arrested over the last two weeks. They said they included the detention of 16 suspects accused of stockpiling a huge weapons cache and planning attacks on oil facilities in the Eastern Province.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz said the lion's share of the Al Qaida detainees are Saudi nationals. All of the 16, whose arrests were announced on July 22, were Saudis.

"We cannot deny the existence of danger in any city in the kingdom," Prince Nayef said.

Officials said Saudi authorities are searching for scores of other suspects in central and eastern Saudi Arabia. They said this includes those connected to the May 12 suicide attacks against Western compounds in Riyad in which 35 people were killed.

The capture of the arsenal last week was regarded as the biggest achievement in the current counter-insurgency campaign. Officials said the weapons were smuggled from neighboring Iraq and Yemen. They included rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, night-vision goggles, bulletproof vests, surveillance cameras, detonators as well as 20 tons of chemicals required for the assembly of bombs.

"The quantities caught in possession of the terrorists could not have been smuggled in in one operation," an unidentified border guard official told the Saudi daily Al Watan. "They were collected over a period of time."

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