Guns in the Sand: Saudi Terror Plot Unearthed
The accused terrorists had hidden a cache of weapons beneath the esert sand in a long-term bid to attack a Saudi oil installation.
Saudi security forces have arrested scores of suspects in a terror plot involving attacks on senior officials and government oil, military and security installations, a Saudi intelligence official said Friday.
The official said that the nine months-long terror sweep netted 172 militants -- members of cells that make up the al Qaeda network the Saudis have been tracking for years.
Some of those arrested had trained abroad as pilots so they could fly aircraft in attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil fields, the Interior Ministry said Friday, according to The Associated Press.
The operation was launched with intelligence gleaned from the interrogations of suspects arrested in the unsuccessful February 2006 strike on an oil processing facility in the desert kingdom, an official told CNN.
That intelligence official said some of those arrested in the latest roundup had flight manuals, but "they have no real flight training capabilities."
The Interior Ministry did not say the militants would fly aircraft into oil refineries, but it said in a statement that some detainees had been "sent to other countries to study flying in preparation for using them to carry out terrorist attacks inside the kingdom," according to AP.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki told AP in a phone call, "They had reached an advance stage of readiness and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks.