Saudi Arabia Arrests Two Alleged Terror Cells

Saudi police carries out raids on two alleged terror cells, amid heightened security ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Ben Ariel ,


Saudi police carried out raids on two alleged terror cells, officials said Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The raids raised security concerns as thousands of visitors continue arriving in the kingdom in advance of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Security forces surrounded the eastern Riyadh neighborhood of Mounsiya on Tuesday night after receiving tips about suspicious behavior by two men living in the area, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

The suspects were identified as Saudi brothers Ahmed Saeed Jaber al-Zahrani, 21, and Mohammed Saeed Jaber al-Zahrani, 19. They fired guns and threw grenades as authorities evacuated nearby homes and confiscated a large sum of cash, guns and computer equipment from the home.

In a simultaneous raid in the central Saudi village of Dhurma, another group of terror suspects escaped police and was still being pursued on Wednesday, the ministry said.

An unknown number of men fled the scene in a pickup truck with Omani license plates, after exchanging fire with police.

A workshop for explosive-making was at the scene, the ministry said, and an explosive belt dismantled by police.

The raids are the latest in an ongoing crackdown by Saudi Arabia against homegrown extremists in the kingdom, after the Sunni extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a recent series of bombings at Shiite mosques across the eastern part of the country, including one at the beginning of August.

The jihadist group is known to be actively working to recruit young Saudi operatives who can carry out attacks on their home soil.

Authorities said in July that they arrested 431 suspects connected to Islamic State, their largest raid to date, and that they had foiled a number of plans for suicide attacks in Riyadh and the east, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The September 22 start of the Hajj pilgrimage comes amid safety and security concerns following a crane collapse last Friday at Mecca’s Grand Mosque which left 107 dead and 238 injured.

Saudi Arabia later suspended the Binladin Group to which the crane that collapsed belonged.

Binladin Group was founded in 1931 by the father of Osama bin Laden, the infamous late terror leader of Al-Qaeda. Osama's brother, Bakr, runs the Binladin Group.