Saudi Claim of Foiling Alleged Terror Plot Dismissed

Saudi Claim of Foiling Alleged Terror Plot DismissedSaudi Claim of Foiling Alleged Terror Plot Dismissed

An Interior Ministry official rejected a claim Monday by Saudi Arabia that last Friday it arrested three members of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps from a boat wanting to carry out a “terrorist operation”, saying those captured were local fishermen sailing on normal fishing boats.

Majid Aqababaei, the ministry’s director general for border affairs, told ILNA on Monday that there is no evidence the three were military officers or carried weapons.

“Three fishermen from the [southern] Bushehr Province have been taken into custody by the Saudi coastguard. There are no signs these people were military personnel. They were workers fishing in simple boats.”

Aqababaei said the captured boat was accompanying another vessel that Iran said on Saturday was fired at by Saudi coast guards, leaving one dead.  

The boat that was targeted returned to Bushehr hours later, but the other was captured by the Saudis.

“Our two boats were near [Saudi waters] but we are not certain whether they entered Saudi waters. However, it has happened several times in the past that our boats or Saudi boats strayed into foreign territorial waters due to high waves and lack of GPS [navigation] systems.”

 Conflicting Accounts

His narrative contradicted the Saudi account on Monday that it had captured three IRGC members aboard an explosive-laden boat heading to a Saudi oil platform located off the kingdom’s eastern shores to conduct a “terrorist act”.

A statement by Saudi Interior Ministry said the three arrested were “being questioned by the Saudi authorities.”

“This was one of the three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces [on Friday] ... the other two escaped,” the statement said.

This is while on Sunday, Saudi Arabia said its forces had fired warning shots when three small boats entered Saudi territorial waters and headed at high speed toward an oil platform.

It said “weapons” were seized from a captured boat, but made no mention of arrests.

Aqababaei said documents proving Iran’s claim have been handed over to the Interior Ministry and it is following up othe case through indirect diplomatic channels.

“Due to the fact that Tehran and Riyadh have no diplomatic ties, the issue is being pursued though the United Nations and [other] international organizations.”

Riyadh severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in early 2016, using as an excuse attacks on its diplomatic premises in Tehran and Mashhad by protesters angered over the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr Baqer al-Nimr.

The latest incident comes at a time of already heightened tensions between the two regional powers.

Earlier this month, Riyadh and some allies cut ties with Qatar, citing, among other things, its friendship with Iran.


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