DUBAI Saudi Arabia has broken up four Islamic State cells suspected of providing shelter to wanted militants and recruiting fighters, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, according to Saudi state television.
Automatic weapons were seized from the four cells, which comprised 15 Saudis, two Yemenis and a Sudanese man, the ministry's statement said. Security forces also seized more than 2 million riyals ($530,000) in cash.
Among those helped to hide by the cells, which operated in the capital Riyadh and in eastern and northern regions, was Taye' al-Say'ari, one of two suspected Islamist militants killed in a security operation in Riyadh last month.
"Cell members were (also) active in ... choosing and conducting surveillance of targets and passing information to the organisation abroad, promoting the deviant group and recruiting members for the organisation and inciting them to fight in areas of struggle," the statement said.
Local Saudi affiliates of Islamic State, which is based in Iraq and Syria, have carried out several deadly shootings and bombings in the conservative kingdom, the world's top oil exporter. Many have targeted security personnel and Shi'ite Muslim mosques. Saudi Arabia says it has arrested hundreds of IS members.
The Sunni Muslim Islamist group is bitterly hostile to the Gulf Arab monarchies, which suspect it of trying to stoke Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian confrontation to destabilise and ultimately topple their governments.
($1 = 3.7504 riyals)
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)