RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi authorities have discovered a number of camps outside Saudi cities used for training militants to carry out terror operations, an Interior Ministry official said Thursday.
Two key militant figures killed in terror sweeps last year — Turki Nasser al-Dandani and Yosif Salih Fahd Ala'yeeri — commanded the camps, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. More camp leaders are being sought, the official said.
Al-Dandani and Ala'yeeri were on a list of 19 Al Qaeda operatives sought after the May 6 discovery of a Riyadh (search) weapons cache. The group was said to be taking orders directly from Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden and linked to the May 12 bombings in Riyadh that killed 26 victims.
Al-Dandani was named as the most important figure on the list and Ala'yeeri was allegedly carrying a letter written by bin Laden when he was killed.
The desert camps were set up to train militants to use weapons and self-defense techniques and also prepare them for terror operations, the official said. He did not specify the number of camps that were discovered.
The latest find is part of a widespread crackdown the Saudi government launched on Islamic militants and Al Qaeda cells following the May suicide bombings. Hundreds of suspects have been arrested, and the government has urged wanted persons to surrender.
On Nov. 8, another suicide attack on a Riyadh housing compound killed 17 people. Saudi officials have said their country may have been infiltrated by members of Al Qaeda.
Late Wednesday, Crown Prince Abdullah (search) reiterated the kingdom's opposition to extremism, saying "moderation is the right path."
In a televised speech to the nation, Abdullah called on Saudis to follow the "wise, moderate Islamic line," the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
"It's the method of the holy Quran and the Prophet," Abdullah said, according to the agency.