Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been stirring sectarian strife in Saudi Arabia by inciting young radicals to attack government buildings and security forces, Saudi officials told Al-Mashareq.
A number of Shia youth in Saudi custody confirm they have received military training from the IRGC and Hizbullah at camps in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, said Col. Jamal al-Nukhaifi of the Saudi police.
"Hizbullah is deeply involved in the recruitment and training of its operatives in the kingdom," he told Al-Mashareq.
In an April 28th attack carried out by Hizbullah elements in Saudi Arabia, security officer Abdullah bin Aqil bin Muheel al-Dalbahi was shot dead in the town of Saihat in the Eastern Province's Qatif district, al-Nukhaifi said.
The gunmen kidnapped another officer, Hashem al-Zahrani, who was later killed.
In December, a group of masked gunmen kidnapped Mohammed al-Jirani, a Shia judge known for his moderate views, whose fate remains unknown.
Clashes are ongoing in the Qatif district between security officers and gunmen in Almosara area of the town of Awamiya, where authorities say Shia militants are hiding.
"It was discovered that subversive groups were hiding in the area," al-Nukhaifi said. "The militants took fortified positions among civilians and opened fire on security officers, killing and wounding a number of them."
Security forces are handling the situation with utmost caution to protect the lives of civilians who have been prevented from leaving by the gunmen, he said.
"Unfortunately, many young Saudi Shia have fallen into the trap set up by the IRGC," said Sheikh Hashem Almujhed, a Shia cleric from al-Ahsa region.
The IRGC incites them against the kingdom and its security officers by portraying police and army personnel in a negative light, and suggesting it is a religious duty to attack them via all means, he told Al-Mashareq.
The IRGC behaves in the kingdom as it does elsewhere, he said, portraying itself as the "defender of the oppressed in the Shia community".
The perpetrators of these attacks have targeted not only the kingdom's security forces, Almujhed noted, but also Shias who disagree with their views.
He said he has personally received many threats because of his moderate positions.
Saudi Arabia suffers from two types of terrorism, said Fadel al-Hindi, a supervisor at King Abdulaziz University Centre for Social and Humanities Research.
"The first is well known, and its source is takfiri groups such as al-Qaeda and the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS), while the source of the second type is the sectarian strife stirred up by IRGC cells," he told Al-Mashareq.
"Members of both groups declare takfir against the ruler and rely on terrorism with direct attacks, both by firing on civilians and security personnel and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)," al-Hindi said.
Saudi authorities and community dialogue leaders have been working alongside leaders in the Shia community to find a solution to this dilemma, he added.