A Saudi Arabian woman has been arrested for her role in recruiting three of her sons for the Islamic State and running a terrorist cell with plans to attack targets in the Kingdom.
Saudi officials arrested Khulood al-Rukaibi, also known as “Umm Mohammed” or Mother of Mohammed, Sept. 18 along with 17 others for terrorism-related crimes. The Saudi Interior Ministry discovered that Rukaibi was the mastermind behind an ISIS cell planning to carry out terrorist attacks against various targets in Saudi Arabia.
Rukaibi, who is in her late forties and has little more than a primary school education, is a family matriarch, a strange and unique occurrence in a country traditionally male dominated. Her husband is reportedly weak when it came to being “the man of the house.” Together, the couple had six children, four boys and two daughters.
An investigation by al-Arabiya found that one of Rukaibi’s sons was already fighting for ISIS in Syria. Hamad and Nassar, two of Rukaibi’s other sons, were recruited to take part in terrorist attacks within Saudi Arabia.
The Interior Ministry shut down three ISIS cells in total. The groups were reportedly finalizing preparations, having chosen a several targets including citizens, religious scholars, Saudi security personnel, religious sites and government facilities.
Despite its hard-line religious culture, Saudi Arabia has frequently been the target of ISIS terrorist attacks. One of the most dastardly attacks included an attack on the tomb of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The attack was a direct affront to the Saudi King, who bears the title “Protector of the two Holy Cities,” a reference to the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina.
“If [the royal family] can’t protect those places — and people traveling to those cities from across Islam — it calls in to question the fitness of their ruling power and its legitimacy,” a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told NBC News after the July attack. ISIS believes that the Saudi royal family is illegitimate, and therefore considers the Kingdom an enemy of the caliphate.
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