A day after the Islamic State appears to have staged its first ever military-style attack on Saudi Arabia, the group pledged to destroy two Saudi Arabian prisons that house jihadi detainees. The escalation comes four days after Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, including 43 that the government claims were al Qaeda militants.
VICE News Perhaps fearing that its imprisoned fighters would be executed en-masse next, IS is setting its sights on the Saudi prison system. “The Islamic State always seeks to free prisoners,” the group said in an article posted online on Tuesday. “[THis] will not happen except with the eradication of the rule of tyrants, and then destroying their prisons and razing them to the ground.”
The message explicitly singled out the al-Ha’ir and Tarfiya prisons where the bulk of al Qaeda and Islamic State supporters are reportedly detained. That message and the escalation of attacks indicate that IS may be ramping up its efforts against Saudi Arabia.
In November, 2014 IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced that the group had established a Saudi affiliate, though it controlled no territory within the Kingdom and had yet to take responsibility for any actions there. Saudi Arabia backs groups in Syria that fight against IS, and the the Kingdom’s control of the Muslims holy sites inside the Arabian peninsula has long been considered unacceptable to both the Islamic State and its jihadi rival al Qaeda.
The group claimed responsibility for its first attack inside the kingdom in May, 2015, killing dozens of Shi’ite worshipers at a mosque in Qadeeh. Over the summer, Saudi Arabia cracked down on allegedmembers of the group, arresting 431 individuals it said had some links to IS.
In August, IS struck again, this time hitting a mosque in Abha, by the Yemeni border. Another self-declared Islamic State province billing itself “Wiliyat Hijaz” carried out the strike, which killed 16 worshippers. And throughout the fall, IS took responsibility for a series of smaller mosque bombings across the country.
IB Times ISIS dealt a blow in Saudi Arabia as cluster of terrorist cells planning imminent attacks were broken up in July. In August, IS struck again, this time hitting a mosque in Abha, by the Yemeni border. Another self-declared Islamic State province billing itself “Wiliyat Hijaz” carried out the strike, which killed 16 worshippers. And throughout the fall, IS took responsibility for a series of smaller mosque bombings across the country.
At least four terrorist cells were identified by Saudi authorities, including one charged with making suicide-bombing belts and another detailed to survey a unnamed foreign diplomatic mission. The extremist group and other militant organizations have long viewed the Saudi ruling family as both illegitimate and pro-Western.