Iran-trained ‘terrorist cell’ dismantled in Saudi Arabia

Three of ten detained members received training in Iran by the IRGC in October 2017 on manufacturing explosives.
Tuesday 29/09/2020
A 2019 file photo shows members of the Saudi security forces taking part in a special parade in Mecca.  (AFP)
A 2019 file photo shows members of the Saudi security forces taking part in a special parade in Mecca. (AFP)

RIYADH--Saudi Arabia said it arrested 10 members of a “terrorist cell”, some of whom underwent military and explosives training at Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) camps in Iran.

Security authorities said that weapons and explosives stored at a house and a farm were seized, but did not say where the raid or the arrests last week were carried out.

“Competent authorities at the presidency thwarted a terrorist cell… whose elements received military and field training on how to make explosives, at the Revolutionary Guard’s sites in Iran,” the State Security Presidency said in a statement late Monday.

“Security investigations revealed the elements’ identities as well as two sites used by the elements to store weapons and explosives,” said the statement carried on official media.

It said that among the items seized were improvised explosive devices (IEDs), dozens of stun guns, kilos of gunpowder and a variety of rifles and pistols.

“The competent authorities are investigating all elements arrested to find out more information about their activities and the persons connected to them in the kingdom and abroad,” it said.

The statement issued by the Presidency of State Security said three of those detained had received training in Iran by the IRGC in October 2017 on manufacturing explosives.

The cell was broken up by security forces on Sept. 23, with weapons such as sniper rifles and pistols confiscated at two locations, the security agency said.

The statement said the identities of those detained have not been revealed because an investigation is still ongoing.

Relations between Riyadh and Tehran have been tense for several years as Iranian multiplied its hostile activities in the Gulf region, both directly and via proxies.

Tensions rose particularly since the Trump administration began reimposing sanctions on Iran that effectively block it from selling its oil internationally.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran following 2016 attacks by demonstrators on its missions in Iran.

Tensions escalated last year over a series of suspicious attacks on tankers and oil installations in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran of being behind attacks on Saudi oil targets, including a missile and drone strike on Aramco’s largest crude oil processing plant in the eastern part of the kingdom.

Yemeni Houthi militias claimed responsibility for that attack. A UN probe concluded the missiles were of Iranian origin.

The Saudis also accuse Iran of interfering in Yemen by backing the Houthis who ousted the internationally-recognised government from the capital in late 2014, prompting a Saudi-led Arab coalition to intervene militarily.

This month, neighbouring Bahrain revealed it broke up a plot by extremists backed by Iran earlier this year to launch attacks on diplomats and foreigners in the island nation home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.