Saudis arrest Al Qaida combatants headed for Iraq

Monday, October 13, 2003

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia has made its first arrest of suspected Al Qaida insurgents recruited to fight in Iraq.

Saudi security sources said Saudi border forces arrested four Islamic combatants who were trying to cross into Iraq. The sources said this was the first detention of suspected Al Qaida agents recruited to fight in Iraq since the U.S.-led war against the Saddam Hussein regime in March.

The London-based Al Hayat daily reported on Monday that the four agents were arrested the previous day in Arar along the northern Saudi border. The newspaper said the suspected insurgents, who had been traveling in a vehicle, were found in possession of semi-automatic weapons, grenades and explosives.

The weapons were confiscated and the occupants of the vehicle were arrested, Middle East Newsline reported.

U.S. officials said thousands of Islamic insurgents were making their way into Iraq to join the Sunni insurgency against the coalition. The officials said some of the insurgents were coming directly from Saudi Arabia while others went through southern Jordan.

But for months Saudi authorities said did not have enough troops to control the northern border. Officials said Riyad has been in contact with Muslim allied nations for reinforcements.

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