JEDDAH: Saudi journalists here believe that they have been targeted by Al-Qaeda because of their support of the government and their opposition to the terrorist organization.
Journalists were responding a day after the Ministry of Interior announced it had arrested 149 Al-Qaeda militants over the last eight months – 124 Saudis and 25 foreigners. Over SR2.24 million was also seized. Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki told a news conference Friday that the suspects belonged to 19 Al-Qaeda cells and were planning to target government facilities, security officials and journalists in the Kingdom. He gave no names of targets.
Ahmed Al-Othaman, a Saudi journalist from Al-Hayat newspaper, said that the targeting of journalists, who support the work of the security authorities, was not surprising.
“The terrorists target innocent people.” He said the main role of journalists is to inform the public of Al-Qaeda’s criminal plans. “Thank God that our security [officials] were able to foil their attempts to attack politicians, security men and journalists,” he added.
Hussain Hazzazi, a journalist from Okaz Arabic newspaper, said the whole world sympathizes with people who have lost family members because of the attacks by Al-Qaeda. “The Saudi government has sponsored the families of martyrs psychologically and financially. I am very proud to write against those terrorists. Islam is a religion of humanity not terrorism,” he said.
Political analysts said that Al-Qaeda is targeting those who are working hard against the organization.
Dr. Ali Al-Tawti, a political analyst, said this is why the organization has in the past targeted Prince Naif, Second Deputy Premier, Interior Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee and Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, the Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs.
Dr. Waheed Hashim, a political analyst, said the targeting of specific people does not mean that Al-Qaeda has given up on its main strategy of damaging national security. He agreed, however, that those being targeted now are a major threat to Al-Qaeda’s survival in the Kingdom.
Hashim said the 19 cells were not connected because this was a security measure of Al-Qaeda. If one cell was discovered, the others could still go on operating.
He added that it now appears Al-Qaeda is struggling to gain entry into the Kingdom. The southern region seemed to be a key place of entry for them at the moment, he added.
– Saudi Gazette