Saudi Arabia revealed today that it had arrested a total of 701 suspected terrorists with ties to al Qaeda this year, reports the Associated Press.
The statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said the militants had planned a car bomb attack against one of the kingdom's oil installations. They belonged to "cells" which planned to revive "criminal activities" in the kingdom, and their leaders were based outside the country, it said.
Of the total arrested, 520 still remain in prison, while 181 have been released as no evidence was found linking them to the terrorist network.
One man arrested supposedly carried a message from al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The police say al-Zawahiri's message exhorted the man to fundraise for terrorist activities and spoke of reinforcements "who will arrive from Iraq, Afghanistan and north Africa to target oil installations and fight security forces."
This hasn't been the first mass arrest of suspected terrorists by the Saudi regime.
Last year, Saudi Arabia reported another large anti-terrorism sweep when it arrested 172 jihadists who planned air attacks on oil refineries, prison breaks of militants, and the use of suicide bombers to kill government officials, according to MSNBC.
Despite its official adherence to a strict form of Islam known as Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia has been labeled an apostate regime by its native son Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.
The hostilities boiled over in 1990 when Bin Laden offered his Afghan Arabs—those Arabs that fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s—to help the Saudi Arabian army defend against Iraqi aggression during the Gulf War. The Saudi regime denied his request and instead relied on U.S. protection, cementing Bin Laden's hatred for both the Saudi regime and the United States.