Saudis have intercepted 100,000 infiltrators this year

Monday, October 11, 2004

ABU DHABI Saudi authorities have intercepted at least 100,000 infiltrators from Iraq and Jordan during 2004, Saudi security sources said. The insurgents included a range of North African nationals.

The security sources said the effort was meant to prevent insurgents from crossing the borders with Iraq and Yemen. They said Al Qaida has used both countries for the smuggling of weapons and insurgents into the kingdom.

"Saudi Arabian border forces have turned back tens of thousands of infiltrators from Iraq this year," Saudi ambassador to Bahrain, Abdullah Bin Ibrahim Al Quwaiz, said.

Saudi Arabia has also been used as a way-station for Al Qaida to enter other Gulf Cooperation Council states, the sources said. They said Al Qaida and its aligned groups have entered Saudi Arabia from Iraq on their way to Kuwait.

Al Quwaiz said most of the infiltration to and from Saudi Arabia was comprised of Saudi nationals. The ambassador said the infiltrators also included Chadians, Moroccans, Somalis and Yemenis.

On Sept. 28, Saudi authorities reported detaining a ship loaded with weapons off the coast of the southern kingdom at Jazan. Officials said the ship included 543 AK-47 Kalashnikov rifles and large quantities of ammunition and was heading from Yemen to Sudan.

At the same time, the sources said Saudi forces were on heightened alert along the southern border with Yemen. They said Saudi security forces had been warned of an Al Qaida attempt to smuggle two vehicles loaded with weapons and explosives from Yemen. Yemen was said to be cooperating in the Saudi effort.

The Saudi ambassador said Al Qaida has stayed clear of Saudi military and security targets because of improved protection. He said Saudi Arabia has expanded instruction and training in counter-terrorism to military and security forces.

"Some universities and security and military colleges are now teaching specialized courses on how to combat terrorism," he said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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