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Middle East Amp North Africa
Saudis link attack on Shia to Isis
From the Financial Times of Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:35:40 GMT

Saudi Arabia says suspected militants who attacked Shia worshippers earlier this month were linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as Isis, in the first acknowledgment of a domestic attack by the Sunni jihadi group.

The official news agency named four Saudis arrested on suspicion of carrying out the apparently sectarian attack that killed seven and wounded 13 in al-Dalwa in the kingdom’s oil-rich eastern province.

The cell, which is said to have taken orders from Isis, was part of a broader network of 77 nationals and foreign residents, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Most of the attackers had already served sentences in Saudi Arabia for previous extremist-related activities, the report said.

Their links to Isis, discovered during the security forces’ investigation into the apparently sectarian attack, underline fears that the extremist Sunni jihadi ideals of Isis would spill over into the kingdom.

US ally Saudi Arabia has joined Washington’s coalition of Arab states supporting attacks on Isis in Syria and Iraq.

Since Isis swept through Iraq from Syria, concerns have grown about an overspill of violence into the strategically important Gulf kingdom.

Thousands of Saudis have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the ranks of militants, encouraged by clerics who foment sentiment against non-Sunnis. The government is cracking down on these elements but observers fear that the kingdom’s puritanical strain of Islam shares elements of Isis’ extremist ideas, including anti-Shia sentiment.

Saudi Arabia managed to quell a violent al-Qaeda insurgency a decade ago, when attacks on foreigners became commonplace.

A Danish man was shot as he left work in Riyadh on Sunday, SPA reported.

The US has since placed restrictions on its diplomatic personnel in the capital at a time when expatriates in the kingdom say they are increasingly concerned for their safety.

The attack on the Shia worshippers came after a gunman opened fire on two US citizens working for a defence company in Riyadh last month, leaving one of them dead. Officials said the attack was the result of a disgruntled employee who had no links to extremists.

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