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Saudi arrests 88 suspects in alleged al-Qaida cell

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - A top Saudi security official said Tuesday that police had arrested 88 men suspected of being part of an al-Qaida cell that was plotting attacks inside and outside of the kingdom.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki did not give any details about the alleged plots, but said 59 of men arrested had previously served prison sentences for similar offenses.

Al-Turki said that Saudi security forces monitored the group for months and learned about their plans. He said the arrests were made over the past several days and that Saudi forces "are serious in tracking down" anyone who joins a terrorist group.

"It is unfortunate that some of those who had completed their sentences and were released by court orders returned to their previous ways," al-Turki told reporters.

The police said that three of the men are Yemeni nationals, one is still being identified and the rest are Saudis.

The announcement comes amid the advance of the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria, which has prompted Saudi Arabia to take harsher measures against sympathizers who could threaten the kingdom's stability. The kingdom made it illegal this year for its citizens to fight as militants abroad and for anyone to incite youth to fight in foreign countries.

Over the weekend, Saudi King Abdullah warned that extremists could attack Europe and the U.S. if there is not a strong international response to terrorism. His remarks were believed to be in reference to the Islamic State group's offensive.

Saudi security officials began battling al-Qaida militants around a decade ago when extremists launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. Saudi officials responded with a massive crackdown that saw many flee to neighboring Yemen. In the time since, the kingdom has not seen any massive attacks, though it has imprisoned suspected militants and sentenced others to death.

On Monday, a court in the capital, Riyadh, ordered 17 people to serve sentences ranging from just under three years to 26 years in prison. The group was allegedly part of a 67-member cell whose members either fought in Iraq, facilitated travel for militants to fight there or helped finance terrorism. All have 30 days to appeal their sentences.

Also on Monday, the same court sentenced a Saudi preacher to five years in prison for allegedly praising and supporting the Islamic State group and al-Qaida during a recent sermon. The Saudi-run Arab News reported that the preacher also called for attacks on Egypt's security forces and on Saudis to release a female al-Qaida operative.

The defendant was banned from delivering sermons and from traveling abroad for five years after his release from prison. His lawyers plan to appeal.

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mzladysmiling September 02 2014 at 2:01 PM

Thank you Saudi ...
We all need to fight terrorism until there is no more....
How our world has changed in the last 20 years...
And not for the better.... ;(

Flag Reply +9 rate up
sutt202 September 02 2014 at 3:28 PM

Not to worry. Saudi has a way of dealing with terrorist. And it's not politically correct. Only in the Western world do we kiss their butts.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
rpthe1 sutt202 September 02 2014 at 5:50 PM

Really? They released them after short term in jail.

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BLONDIE & GRUMPY sutt202 September 02 2014 at 6:39 PM

rpthe1; someday you will get the opportunity to travel to Saudi and learn how their prison system works; your family is responsible for your well being while you are in prison, as well as, they don't have to give you Colour Television with all channels, nor worry about your medical problems... Its not a pleasant enviornment!

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1 reply
MIKEY'S SCREEN BLONDIE & GRUMPY September 02 2014 at 10:03 PM

Good!

Do the crime, get jail time.

I don't understand how our prison system can cater to all these liberal morons by providing TV's, workout rooms, libraries, and the sorts when you are in serving HARD TIME for a crime YOU COMMITTED

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buddwhyzr September 02 2014 at 4:30 PM

It's about time Saudi Arabia got off the sidelines. They now know the US is FURIOUS after the ISIS beheadings and the intel community is buzzing in the area like bees.

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2 replies
Frank Barr buddwhyzr September 02 2014 at 4:34 PM

They could care less about our inept government, its that there own ways have come home to knock on there door ,and they don't like it

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Richard buddwhyzr September 03 2014 at 4:08 AM

And what action did Saudi take against Saudi Bin Laden for his terrorism against Saudi allies the West and the US? Saudi has little concern about Islamic terrorism outside its own borders.

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Frank Barr September 02 2014 at 4:29 PM

What will happen to them there will make our water boarding look like a Disney land ride, if the Saudis did something you know its getting out of control

Flag Reply +3 rate up
jwosr98 September 02 2014 at 3:19 PM

When I first read the headline I thought they found the ones in DC

Flag Reply +3 rate up
hislonv September 02 2014 at 2:27 PM

Off with their heads...

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Michael Perugini hislonv September 02 2014 at 2:47 PM

Its about time they stop what they created.

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kimmer0310 September 02 2014 at 3:05 PM

Good for Saudi.
Hopefully their leaders won't release them.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
smashingmonkey kimmer0310 September 02 2014 at 4:37 PM

They won't. Suspected terrorists will be imprisoned and possibly killed, . . whether guilty or not. It is the Saudi way. And, sadly, it has become the American way.

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1 reply
bchbum63 smashingmonkey September 02 2014 at 6:20 PM

Not recently it hasn't.

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marianicole62 September 02 2014 at 10:53 PM

Well they should be doing something. After all, it is there teachings and not cracking down on this Wahhabi Movement that created Al-Quaida and ISIS. They've known all along that these idiot Imams are preaching this garbage! There is only one way to get rid of this nonsense - they have to be killed. I just wish our leader would take this a little more seriously before it reaches our own country!!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
barryaclarke September 03 2014 at 12:15 AM

I'll wager the Saudi's will treat those arrested for the second time on terrorist charges different than how the US would treat them. Maybe hanging them in a public square by the neck until dead?.............

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Doug September 03 2014 at 1:09 AM

Gotta give Saudi Arabia one credit. Justice is swift over there. King Abdullah was the king Obama bowed to. Obama has to be responsive like the king he bowed to, but is frozen, and scared to take action against ISIS other than a token force to guard the embassy in Iraq. Obama let ISIS grow and now this is what he gets. Obama’s lib inclinations are stopping him from doing the right thing.

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1 reply
hugh4u2 Doug September 03 2014 at 11:05 AM

what a load of bull ,,,,,,,,,, you don't know anything the ssaudi's are bush family good good buddy's

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