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US Seeking Details from Saudi Arabia on Reports of American Detainees

  • Lou Lorscheider

The U.S. State Department says it is seeking details from the government of Saudi Arabia about reports that nine Americans have been detained in the kingdom as terror suspects.

Spokesman John Kirby, speaking Monday, said U.S. officials have seen Saudi media reports of the detentions, and that diplomats are in contact with authorities in Riyadh. He also said he is not aware of "any specific notifications [of the detentions] through official channels." He told reporters he could not verify "the actual truth of these reports."

A Saudi newspaper said Sunday that nine American citizens and 24 others have been detained as terror suspects during the past week. The Saudi Gazette said the detainees also included 14 Saudis, three Yemenis, two Syrians, an Indonesian, a Philippine national and three others.

A Saudi website run by the kingdom's foreign ministry showed on Monday a list of 5,158 suspects currently in detention, including eight Americans. It does not identify the Americans by name or gender, and says four of them were detained January 25. It says four other Americans were arrested in November and December, and that all eight are "under investigation." A ninth American is shown convicted of an unidentified crime in 2007, and the website says the conviction is "subject to appeal."

Sunday's Saudi news report did not say whether any of the Americans is suspected of links to Islamic State extremists, who have claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against Saudi security forces and minority Shi'ites in recent months.

On Friday, a suicide bomber attacked a Shi'ite mosque in Eastern Province, killing four people before worshippers disarmed and tied up an accomplice who had fired on them.

Islamic State, a radical Sunni group that considers Shi'ites heretics, has not claimed that attack.

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