islamic state isis cell in riyadh
Middle East Saudi Arabia

Saudis Claim to Bust ISIS Cell in Riyadh

Riyadh (GPA) – Saudi authorities say the terror cell was plotting to attack government facilities in the capital.

Two men died, and five others were injured yesterday as Saudi authorities carried out simultaneous raids in three separate locations. According to Riyadh, the group the targets of the raids were Daesh militants planning to launch an attack on the Saudi Ministry of Defense.

A relatively new government agency known as the Presidency of State Security carried out the raids. Authorities developed this new agency to handle counterterrorism and Saudi domestic security.

This agency has already been working non-stop, as evidenced by their other operation this week to arrest 46 individuals. The arrests, which took place Wednesday, involved such “terrorism” as “spreading dissent” and “stirring tribal division.”

Related: Saudi Arabia Arrests Dozens In Sweeping Social Media Crackdown

The first of the three sites targeted in the raids included an alleged Daesh bomb factory in the eastern Riyadh neighborhood of Al Rimal. The facility produced materials that the Saudis claim militants would use in a suicide attack on the MoD. One of the men who died was in this raid and blew himself up once he realized he couldn’t escape.

The second raid took place in the Nimar neighborhood, west of Riyadh. This raid ended with one militant barricaded in an apartment dying in a shootout with Saudi authorities. The final raid was of a stable in the south Riyadh suburb of Al-Ha’ir, where the members of the Daesh cell apparently had their meetings.

According to the statement from the Saudis, the raids are being considered a success and produced a cache of supplies including “Containers of distilled water, inflammable liquids and heavy iron molds used to assemble explosives.”

Related: Latest Saudi Arrests: Activists, Judges Are Targeted

Photo by Omar Chatriwala

As with all Saudi statements, however, there is always something outrageous claims made. This incidents absurd complaint was that, among those arrested, 2 are Yemeni nationals that Riyadh accuses of being Houthi fighters.

This is obviously false since the Houthis are a Shia group (currently fighting Al Qaeda in Yemen) and Daesh are Sunni extremists that are more aligned with the beliefs of Wahhabism. While authorities may have caught Yemenis in these latest raids, they cannot belong to both groups. It doesn’t work like that.

Should these militants turn out connected to Daesh however, this would follow the recent trend of Salafist and Wahhabi jihadists targeting Saudi Arabia. Despite sharing so many views on Islamic law, the Saudis do still cooperate with the US (and now Israel). Saudi Arabia might historically rank low on the list of priorities for Daesh, but as they lose ground in every other region of the Middle East, Riyadh shouldn’t be surprised if more of their chickens come home to roost.


Also published on Medium.