Saudi Arabia has detained 135 people on terrorism charges that include going abroad to fight with banned groups or being directly linked to them, authorities told local media.
Out of those detained, 109 are Saudi citizens while the remaining 26 hail from Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Bahrain, and Iraq.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Al-Turki said that 40 suspects were arrested for participating in fights across conflict stricken areas and joining extremist organisations. They were also booked with charges such as receiving training on using weapons and returning to the Kingdom to carry out “subversive activities”.
Meanwhile 54 were detained for having connections with extremist organisations and are accused of supporting such groups by financing them, helping recruit members, spreading their propaganda and by making explosives.
About 17 of those detained were charged with conducing riot activities and opening fire on security officers in the Al-Awamiya region. They also possessed weapons and planned to conduct activities to “disrupt security” as they were trying to send people abroad to train, General Al Turki said.
Saudi Arabia has been seeing a rising number of attacks on its minority groups and occasionally expats, as authorities fear a growing support in the country for Islamist terror groups.
On November, seven members from the Kingdom’s minority Shi’ite group were shot dead in the Eastern province of Al Ahsa in an attack that is believed to have been ordered by Islamic State.
A US national and a Danish man were also shot dead in Riyadh in November but authorities have said that the gunmen in both cases did not have any extremist ties.
Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the US, is increasingly under the radar of radical militant groups such as Islamic State and Al Nusra Front.
In a bid to counter terrorist acts, the Kingdom has formulated strict laws that ban its citizens from going abroad to fight while detaining many who have returned from fighting with militant groups abroad.