ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi Arabia has arrested more than 200 suspected Al
Qaida insurgents since the May 12 suicide strikes in Riyad.
Saudi officials said the crackdown reflects a strategic decision by the
kingdom to eliminate the Al Qaida presence. They said the May 12 suicide
strikes attributed to Al Qaida were the Saudi equivalent to the Al Qaida
strikes on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.
The crackdown has been led by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin
Abdul Aziz, the officials said. They said Nayef has used special operations
forces trained by the United States to detect and track suspected insurgents
in what the officials termed a flexible and rolling plan.
In the 100-day period since May 12, officials said, authorities have
arrested 204 suspected insurgents, Middle East Newsline reported. They said 17 insurgents and nine
security officers have been killed in operations. Another 26 security
officers were injured in shootouts.
Authorities have also seized 21 tons of explosives and 300 rifles and
pistols. In addition, authorities seized 220 grenades and $283,000 in
The key goal of the crackdown, officials said, was to capture a
19-member Al Qaida
command believed to be operating an insurgency network in the kingdom. So
far, 12 of the 19 insurgents have been arrested.
The security plan has taken into account different operations for a
areas believed to contain Al Qaida strongholds. Officials said security
forces raided strongholds in Riyad, Mecca, the northern governate of Jawf
and the eastern region of Qassim.
Officials said the Al Qaida insurgency cell was established and
sustained by about $15 million over the last year. They said Saudi
authorities have obtained new information on funding from Al Qaida from
regional and Western sources.
On Tuesday, a U.S. government delegation was expected to arrive in Riyad
to open a permanent presence in the kingdom that would monitor insurgency
funding. The delegation would include agents from the FBI and Internal
Revenue Service. Officials said the two countries would establish a joint
task force led by Saudi Arabia.