Four people, including two would-be suicide bombers, were arrested, reports SPA
Saudi Arabia thwarts ISIL plot to attack defence ministry
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it thwarted an ISIL plot to attack two offices of the defence ministry in Riyadh.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency said that the authorities arrested two would-be suicide bombers, identified as Ahmad Yaser Al Kaldi and Ammar Ali Muhammad, before they reached the ministry’s offices.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the two men were Yemeni and their names differed from those on their identity cards, which were seized from them,” said the report.
SPA said that the authorities also arrested two Saudis, whose relation with the two suspects and intentions were still not known.
Their names were not disclosed because “it is in the interest of the investigation not to do so at this point in time”, added the report.
The Saudi authorities seized two explosive belts, each weighing seven kilogrammes, nine home-made grenades, firearms and other weapons, reported SPA, adding that a house in the Al Rimal neighbourhood was raided.
“It was used by the suicide bombers and for training on how to use explosive belts,” the report said, adding that updates of the ongoing investigation with the suspects will be announced at a later time.
Separately, the state-run agency said that the authorities uncovered a spy ring made up of “Saudis and foreigners”, who wanted to “stir up sedition and prejudice national unity”.
“They worked for the benefit of foreign parties against the security of the kingdom and its interests,” SPA said.
Saudi Arabia battled an Al Qaeda insurgency for years and has more recently faced attacks from a local branch of ISIL.
In June, a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Grand Mosque in Makkah as police disrupted a plot to target the holiest site in Islam. Police said that the bomber detonated his explosives after a shoot-out at a house in Ajyad Al Masafi, injuring six foreign pilgrims and five members of the security forces.
The Saudi authorities have arrested more than 40 people for alleged extremist links since July last year, when a suicide bombing near the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina killed four members of its security forces. The same day, separate suicide bomb attacks targeted a mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia and near the US consulate in Jeddah.
Also last year, ISIL militants reportedly plotted to a bomb a UAE-Saudi Arabia football match. Two Pakistanis, a Syrian and a Sudanese national were arrested over the plot to attack Al Jawhara stadium, said the Saudi interior ministry.
The ministry said that another cell planned to kill police officers in the Shaqra district north of the capital Riyadh, adding that security forces arrested four Saudis who had received instructions from an ISIL leader in Syria.
In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition — which includes the UAE — intervened in the war in 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to restore his power in Sanaa after the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital.
The Houthis and loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh continue to government Sanaa and other areas in the north and west of the country.