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Saudi arrests 431 ISIS-linked suspects

Among the arrested were Saudi nationals and suspects from nine other nationalities, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia arrested 431 people as part of a crackdown on a cluster of cells linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, the kingdom’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) said.

Authorities also thwarted seven mosque attacks that had been planned by the suspects in the capital Riyadh as well as the Eastern Province, MOI Spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al Turki said in a press conference carried by Al Arabiya News Channel.

Among the arrested were Saudi nationals and suspects from nine other nationalities, he said adding that the cluster of cells was divided by tasks and target, he told reporters.

In one cell, made of five members, their task was to prep suicide bombers while another five-member cell had the mission to manufacture explosive belts.

Of the 431 arrested, 190 made up the four cells suspected to behind the Al-Qadeeh and Al-Unoud mosques’ bombings which claimed the lives of dozens of worshippers in May.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the May explosion at a mosque in al-Qadeeh village east of the kingdom during Friday prayers, which killed 20 people. The bombing in al-Qadeeh in Qatif province also targeted Shiites to stir sectarian strife in the country.

In late May, another Shiite mosque called al-Anoud was also targeted when four people were killed in the Eastern Province’s capital Dammam.

Also, 97 others suspected to be behind al-Dalwa incident were among those detained. In late 2014, gunmen killed eight people in the Shiite village of Dalwa, in the Ahsa region of the Eastern Province, at the end of the Shiite holiday of Ashura.

The ministry, meanwhile, said it found an arms workshop in the home of Ali Mohammed Al-Ateeq, one of the suspects arrested.

ISIS controls swathes of neighboring Iraq and Syria, and has claimed widespread abuses including the beheading of foreign hostages.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors last year joined a U.S.-led military coalition bombing ISIS in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation in the kingdom.