The detainees include suspects in recent attacks on security patrols in Riyadh and suicide bombings in the Eastern Province.
The operatives had planned attacks on diplomatic missions and conducted a reconnaissance on one of them. They were also working to identify the houses of a number of security men in a plot to assassinate them. Security and government installations in Sharourah were also in their crosshairs.
The startling revelations were made at a Ministry of Interior press conference on Saturday.
“Security authorities have, over the past few weeks, worked to dismantle a network of cluster cells linked to Daesh. They were following a scheme managed from troubled spots abroad with the aim of inciting sectarian strife and chaos in the Kingdom,” said Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, the ministry’s spokesman.
He added that 431 people have been arrested so far. The foreigners in the cells are from Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Nigeria and Chad. Some of the operatives are yet to be identified, he pointed out.
The task of five members of a cell was to prepare suicide bombers while another five-member cell had the mission of manufacturing explosive belts.
Of the 431 arrested, 190 made up the four cells suspected to be behind Al-Qadeeh and Al-Anoud bombings in the Eastern Province.
“What combines these cells — not allowed to make direct contacts with each other due to security restrictions — is their ties with Daesh in terms of the adoption of thought, division of society and bloodshed and then exchanging roles to implement the plans and objectives dictated from abroad,” Al-Turki added.
The ministry accused those arrested of involvement in several attacks, including a suicide bombing in May that killed 22 people in the eastern village of Al-Qadeeh.
It also blamed them for the November shooting and killing of eight worshippers in the eastern village of Al-Ahsa, and the Al-Anoud Mosque attack in Dammam where a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up during Friday prayers, killing four.
Those arrested included suspects behind a number of militant websites used in recruitment, the ministry said.
The ministry said that authorities foiled attacks plotted during Ramadan, including a bombing at a mosque belonging to security forces in Riyadh and Shiite mosques in Eastern Province.
Among those detained are 144 people accused of supporting the network by “spreading the deviant ideology on the Internet and recruiting new members.”