By Sabria S. Jawhar, Rob L. Wagner and P.K. Abdul Ghafour
9 August 2013
JEDDAH: Two terror suspects — a Yemeni and a Chadian — were in custody late Thursday on suspicion of planning to launch a suicide attack in the region, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Mansour Al-Turki.
The arrests took place during the last 10 days of Ramadan. The plot was foiled as the United States closed its embassies and consulates in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, citing security threats. The embassy and the consulate in Saudi Arabia were expected to remain closed for at least one week.
Al-Turki told Arab News Thursday night that the Chadian had been deported from Saudi Arabia, but returned with a passport under a different nationality.
“They were in contact with deviant groups outside Saudi Arabia and exchanging information regarding operations in the region,” Al-Turki said.
Al-Turki said the arrests stemmed from a “local” operation, but he noted that intelligence was passed on to other countries.
The arrests occurred after Saudi security personnel monitored messages described as inciting hatred through social media. The two men were in contact with Al-Qaeda suspects abroad through social media sites such as Abu Al-Fida, Hasbawi, Muawiya Al-Madani, Rasasa Fi Qesasihi and Abul Fida Al-Doqali, according to one security official who requested anonymity.
Investigators also seized militant-related materials, including data on computers, communication devices and mobile telephones.
“They used these sites to exchange information to carry out imminent suicide attacks in the region,” the security official said. “This has been confirmed from their preliminary confessions.”
Intelligence officials and US military are closely scrutinizing the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda after monitoring chatter that included a message from the terrorist organization’s chief, Ayman Al-Zawahri, to attack Yemen targets. Earlier this week, Yemen reported it foiled a plot to capture gas and oil facilities and seize two southern ports.
Al-Turki pointed to King Abdullah’s contribution of $100 million to jump-start an international counterterrorism center to demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s commitment to rooting out militants.
“This happened as part of Saudi Arabia’s keenness in obtaining information regarding terrorists and extending cooperation to the international community,” Al-Turki said.