RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi authorities have seized nearly 24 tons of explosives in anti-terrorism raids during the past six months, the Interior Ministry said.
The weapons seizure was announced in a statement aired late Monday. It was accompanied by television footage of alleged militants repenting of their crimes, part of a recent government campaign to try to discourage extremism in the kingdom.
In the footage, eight suspected militants said they were lured into extremism by fanatics, some of whom fought in Afghanistan (search).
One man thanked God for being captured "before I did any crime that would have harmed Muslims."
The eight, their faces blurred to hide their identities, spoke of "imported edicts" received via the Internet to attack the Saudi government and the monarchy.
They said they were also urged to attack Americans and "expel the infidels from the Arabian peninsula" -- a common call by extremists angry about the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia (search).
The suspects said they received weapons training in Saudi Arabia and were ordered to "blindly obey" their orders.
In a statement following the footage, the ministry called on parents "to protect their children from being manipulated by terror groups and used as tools to execute their destructive aims." It also vowed to stand up to terrorists.
The Saudi government has more publicly combatted support for extremists in the kingdom since bombings May 12 and Nov. 8 that targeted housing compounds for foreigners in Saudi Arabia. Saudi and U.S. officials have blamed Saudi exile Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search) terror network.
Since those blasts, authorities have detained hundreds of people in a crackdown on alleged militants and have urged wanted persons to surrender. Last month, three jailed extremist Muslim clerics renounced their calls for Islamic militants to attack non-Muslims, recanting in statements made on state-run TV.
The Interior Ministry said it had seized 23.8 tons of explosives, 301 rocket-propelled grenades with launchers, 431 hand grenades, 304 explosive belts, 674 capsules, 1,020 pistols, automatic rifles and other weapons, and more than 350,000 bullets.
A huge collection of communication devices, computers, watches and telephones used for explosions also were found, it said.
Besides the blasts at the housing compounds, Islamic extremists have been blamed for detonating four car bombs in Riyadh in 2003, killing 52 people including the assailants, and wounding more than 100 others.