Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that their security services have arrested 413 people accused of being members of Islamic State (IS) in the last 60 days, including seven Egyptians.
Nineteen nationalities were represented among the 413 people arrested, according to state-owned Al-Ahram. Qatar-based Al Jazeera added that Saudi authorities carried out the arrests without facing any armed resistance.
The majority of those detained were Saudi, with 322 out of the 413 people holding Saudi citizenships. Among the others arrested, 42 were Yemeni, seven Pakistani, seven Syrian, along with the seven Egyptians.
Al Jazeera quoted a security source stating that the suspects had been “communicating via social media networks” and “soliciting Saudi youth to join [the Islamic State].”
The security source also explained that Saudi authorities were able to locate the suspects through tracking websites, adding that security forces seized weapons and documents proving that the suspects were planning to join the Islamic State.
On July 18, Saudi Arabia announced that it had arrested 431 Islamic State members and prevented planned Islamic State attacks in the kingdom.
The Saudi Interior Ministry announced at the time that, “six successive suicide operations which targeted mosques in the Eastern province on every Friday timed with assassinations of security men were thwarted,” reported USA Today.
Saudi authorities have condemned the attacks and retaliated with a series of mass arrests, the latest of which took place on Saturday. The arrests are also open attempts by the state to curb the number of Saudis attempting to join the militant organization in Syria and Iraq.
Hundred of Islamic State members are Saudi, even though there is a government ban on joining the group. Some analysts feel that their numbers are fueled by anti-Shia sentiment, which is only exacerbated by the recent war Saudi-led war on Yemen against the Shia Houthi rebels, reported Al-Monitor.
There have been accusations that Saudi Arabia tacitly supports the Islamic State, sending both soldiers and money to the organization, a theory that points to the Shia threat to Saudi from Iran, and the kingdom’s support of the Islamic State in a proxy war against the regional power.
However, the Islamic State has publicly declared itself opposed to the kingdom with Abu Bakr Baghdadi calling for the downfall of the Saudi monarchy. Furthermore, recent analysis has argued that the targeting of Shia mosques is meant to cause sectarian strife within Saudi Arabia, a tactic that could attract more Saudis to join the group.
Saudi Arabia has officially denounced the Islamic state on numerous occasions and participated in the US-led coalition to bomb the militant group in Syria and Iraq.
A report by the Independent, however, revealed that while Saudi is orchestrating efforts to curb support of the Islamic State, it also treats detained members very well within its own prison system.