Saudi Authorities Arrest 40 Al Qaeda Suspects

Saudi authorities arrested 40 suspected members of Al Qaeda — including some allegedly involved in last month's attempted bombing of a key oil complex — and seized a large cache of weapons and explosives, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday.

The agency, quoting an unidentified Interior Ministry official, said security forces carried out simultaneous operations in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and Qassim in the north and Asir in the south.

The agency did not say when the arrests were made.

Authorities said 19 of those arrested were suspected of financing terrorist attacks and disseminating "disinformation on the Internet," the official said. They included Saudis and "residents," the official said without elaborating on the others' nationalities.

Eight people connected to the Feb. 24 attack on the Abqaiq complex, the world's largest oil processing facility, also were arrested, he said. Attackers in two explosives-laden vehicles tried to ram through the facility's gates but were stopped by guards, who opened fire on them, detonating the vehicles.

Thirteen others influenced by "deviant thoughts" and active in collecting funds to finance suspicious activities also were arrested, the report said.

Police seized grenades, rifles and ammunition in the raids, he said.

Also, a Saudi daily newspaper reported that authorities seized two explosives-laden vehicles in Abqaiq. The Riyadh daily said the two vehicles had the logo of Aramco, the Saudi oil company, on them.

Officials were not available to comment on the report.

Al Qaeda militants launched a campaign of violence three years ago in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of group leader Usama bin Laden.

Saudi security forces have largely had Al Qaeda militants on the run for the past year, arresting hundreds of suspects.