Saudi Arabia said Monday (September 19th) it has smashed three cells linked to the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) which had planned to attack military facilities and other targets, AFP reported.
The Saudi interior ministry announced the arrest of 16 men and one woman, most of whom were Saudis, with one Yemeni, an Egyptian and a Palestinian among the detainees.
"Months-long efforts culminated in the foiling of a terrorist plot that was to be carried out by a network made up of three cluster cells connected to ISIL," the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
"They targeted security officials and security, economic and military establishments and citizens in different locations," the ministry said.
"The cells of this network have been active in the preparation and processing of explosive belts and explosive devices to be used in their criminal operations, providing logistical support such as shelter to wanted people, and providing them with money, weapons and means of transport inside the kingdom," the ministry said.
The cells were also "monitoring targeted sites, providing electronic and media support for the organisation, and communicating with its leaders abroad in all their activities", it said.
Saudi officials said four terror plots had successfully been thwarted, and that preliminary investigations reveal the would-be attackers had been involved in a string of previous crimes.
During the operation, security forces seized highly explosive devices including sticky bombs, explosive belts ready for detonation, metal pipes used as explosive devices, automatic weapons, silencers and live ammunition, as well as more than 600,000 Saudi riyals ($160,000), the SPA said.