Saudi media are reporting that nine Americans were among the 33 terror suspects arrested in the Kingdom over the past week, a week that ended with another suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in the Sunni-ruled country.
According to AFP, in addition to the nine Americans, the counter-terrorist roundup included “14 Saudis, three Yemenis, two Syrians, an Indonesian, a Filipino, an Emirati, a Kazakhstan national and a Palestinian.”
Sunday brought a further announcement from the Saudi Interior Ministry that nine more suspects are sought in a suicide bombing case from August, an attack on a mosque used by security forces that killed at least 15 people. The Interior Ministry revealed that one of the suspects already under arrest was a member of the Saudi special forces.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, but has not yet claimed the Friday attack, which killed four people. The attack was captured on video, and the bomber’s accomplice was taken prisoner after the crowd violently subdued him, so the source of the attack will most likely be established soon. AFP notes that ISIS usually takes credit for attacks on Shiite mosques, as the Sunni terror group considers Shiites to be “heretics.”
It is not yet clear how many of the suspects arrested in the Saudis’ terrorist roundup authorities suspect of having ISIS links. Reportedly, 532 ISIS suspects are already in custody and awaiting trial.
Authorities have released little information about the Americans allegedly detained by Saudi police. AFP quotes a U.S. State Department official, speaking anonymously, who said his department is “aware of reports alleging that several US citizens were detained in Saudi Arabia,” and “takes its obligation to assist US citizens abroad seriously.” The official said privacy considerations prohibited further comment at that time.
Reuters also reports that U.S. officials would not confirm that the Saudis arrested any Americans, while the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia did not respond to a request for comment.
Pakistan’s The Nation reports the Saudis are bringing their oil wealth to bear as a weapon against terrorists, offering a reward of one million riyals (equivalent to about $266,000 in U.S. currency) for information leading to the arrest of a terror suspect, and 7 million riyals (a little over $1,866,000 in U.S. currency) to those who actively assist in thwarting a terrorist attack.