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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jeddah raids: two extremist cells disbanded

The Saudi security forces succeeded in disbanding two extremist cells in Jeddah early last week: one in Al-Ajwad district, the other in Al-Jamia district.

Latest reports from Jeddah suggest that special security units made successful raids against both cells and forced their members to surrender.

Security sources considered the raids a success as no one was killed or seriously injured. However, independent sources claim that two men of Al-Jamia cell died. They were rushed to hospital, but failed to survive their injuries. No other sources confirmed the story.

Available reports on both cells suggest that they were preparing to set up new cells in other neighborhood districts, notably near King Abdulaziz Airport, King Abdulaziz University, the Industrial District and the Seaport.

On the Al-Jamia cell, the same reports mention that it was lately watching Jeddah-Mecca main road. Two of its four members surrendered. The Saudi Police say they are Turki Al-Mutairi and Ghazi Al-Utaibi. Both were among seven prisoners who escaped from Riyadh’s Al-Malaz prison in July.

Note that Turki Al-Mutairi belongs to a family known to be close to the ruling Al-Saud family, but the extremists look to have gained some support among its members.

Sources close to the Saudi Interior Ministry say the raids in Jeddah took place as the Ministry was preparing to tighten security measures in Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Riyadh.

These sources add the arrested men had Kalashnikov rifles, hand grenades and anti-tank launchers. The security services believe the extremists smuggled these weapons from Iraq and Yemen into the Kingdom.
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