Riyadh thwarts IS plans of attacking Shia mosques, arrests 431 suspects

July 18, 2015

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Network members were engaged in a plot with the aim of sowing sectarian sedition and spreading chaos, the ministry said. —AFP/File
Network members were engaged in a plot with the aim of sowing sectarian sedition and spreading chaos, the ministry said. —AFP/File

RIYADH: Saudi authorities announced on Saturday that they have broken up an organisation linked to the Islamic State group and have so far arrested 431 of its members, mostly Saudis.

Authorities have “managed over the past few weeks to destroy an organisation made of a cluster of cells, which is linked to the terrorist Daesh organisation,” the interior ministry said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Network members were engaged in a “plot managed from areas of unrest abroad, with the aim of sowing sectarian sedition and spreading chaos,” the ministry said.

The cells were involved in several attacks and plots, including the deadly suicide bombings that hit Shiite mosques in the kingdom's Eastern Province, it said.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The interior ministry has said Saudi Arabia would “hunt down anyone involved in this terrorist crime carried out by people seeking to undermine national unity".

Saudi police have made a string of arrests in recent months of extremists suspected of plotting attacks aimed at stirring sectarian unrest in the Eastern Province.

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

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours last year joined a US-led military coalition bombing IS in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation in the kingdom.