The last year has seen a major crackdown on alleged Islamic militants in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to numbers released by the country's Interior Ministry. The figures suggest that militant groups continue to be active despite recent comments quoted in The Washington Post by General Michael Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, suggesting a "near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia."
Arab News, a Saudi English-language daily, reports that a number of those arrested were in direct contact with the top Al Qaeda leadership.
Islamic militants have long targeted Saudi Arabia for its ties with Western powers and the corruption of its rulers, flush with oil money. The Associated Press highlights Al Qaeda's campaign against Saudi Arabia:
But commentators say Saudi Arabia has fueled the problem by supporting the strict Wahhabi doctrine and, in the past, actively supporting those traveling abroad to fight for Islam. Indeed, the kingdom has long been home to a majority of the foreign fighters entering Iraq, reports The Guardian.
Terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia was largely quelled by a major crackdown in 2003 following several attacks that were blamed on Al Qaeda. However, a report in Time magazine suggests that the group remains stronger than imagined.
Human rights groups continue, however, to express doubts regarding the legitimacy of Saudi detentions, accusing the country of arbitrary arrests and torture. In a comment piece published by the Guardian Unlimited, Christoph Wilcke, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, wrote: