Saudi Arabia thwarts stadium terror plot linked to Islamic State

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia authorities announced Sunday it had broken up two terrorism plots linked to the Islamic State — one to bomb a soccer match and another targeting police officers.

The King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, called the “Luminous Jewel,” opened in 2014 at a cost of $500 million and can hold at least 60,000 spectators. Photo by Sp-knight/Wikimedia Commons

Four men were suspected of plotting to detonate a bomb at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium during or after a World Cup qualifier match on Oct. 11 against United Arab Emirates in the coastal city of Jeddah, according to the Saudi Interior Ministry.

The four suspects, two Pakistanis, a Syrian and a Sudanese citizen, were arrested one day before the 60,000 people attended the soccer match.

General Bassam Attiyah revealed at a news conference a device near the stadium was found.

“Another equally horrifying scenario would have occurred had the device exploded whilst the spectators were exiting the stadium,” he said.

The vehicle had the capacity to carry an estimated 400kg of explosives and the blast’s explosion radius would have reached up to 1,100 meters, covering almost 800,000 square meters.

“Daesh wants any operation that could result in the highest number of victims,” said interior ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, using the Arabic acronym of the militant group.

Last November in France, three suicide militants bombed a French stadium in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, part of other attacks the same day. Four people were killed in the stadium attack, including the three bombers.

The separate plot foiled in Saudi Arabia was against police officers in the Shaqra district north of the capital Riyadh, the ministry said. Security forces arrested four Saudis who had received orders from an Islamic State leader in Syria, officials said.

Authorities say they have arrested hundreds of militants in the past two years and more than 60 people have been killed in attacks in Saudi Arabia.

The attacks from the Sunni extremist group have involved mosques for the Shiite minority, as well as security personnel.

By Allen Cone