A Saudi newspaper is reporting that nine Americans have been detained in Saudi Arabia on terrorism charges. US officials say they're still working to verify the report, but at this stage don't believe it to be true.
The English-language "Saudi Gazette" newspaper reported Sunday that Saudi authorities arrested the US nationals among 33 "terror" suspects rounded up over the past week.
Citing an unidentified source, the paper said the arrests also included 14 Saudis, three Yemenis, two Syrians, an Indonesian, a Filipino, an Emirati, a Kazakhstan national and a Palestinian.
Later in the day, however, US officials told Reuters news agency that they could not confirm any Americans were among the 33 in custody. One source said both US and Saudi authorities were still running names through databases.
"The Department of State takes its obligation to assist US citizens abroad seriously. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment," one official told news agency AFP.
The Gazette did not say whether any of the suspects were believed to be linked to the "Islamic State" (IS), which was declared a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia in 2014. The militant group has claimed responsibility for a string of recent deadly attacks against security forces and Shiites in the kingdom.
On Friday, four people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in the Eastern Province's al-Ahsa district. IS didn't claim responsibility for that incident, but supporters of IS in Saudi Arabia have said they were behind two previous bombings and two mass shootings at Shiite mosques. In August, a mosque used by Sunni security services in the southern city of Abha was also bombed. Fifteen people died in the attack, which was later claimed by IS.
In its report, the Gazette said some 532 IS suspects accused of plotting attacks are currently being questioned. They were arrested in pre-emptive raids across the country.
The kingdom offers hefty rewards to anyone who thwarts an attack or helps in the arrest of suspects.
nm/gsw (AFP, Reuters)