December 12th, 2013
04:26 PM ET

Women detained in Saudi Arabia for defying driving ban

Four women were detained by traffic police in two Saudi Arabian cities this week for defying the Kingdom's driving ban, according to all the women stopped.

In the Red Sea port city of Jeddah Thursday, two women, Sahar Naseef and Tamador Alyami, were stopped by police after being spotted in a car on one of the city's main thoroughfares.

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Filed under: Saudi Arabia
March 20th, 2013
02:29 PM ET

Saudi native charged with fighting for al Qaeda

A federal grand jury in New York has indicted a Saudi native on charges of joining al Qaeda in fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan and conspiring to bomb U.S. diplomatic facilities in Nigeria.

Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, also known as "Spin Ghul," was extradited from Italy to the United States in October.

The six-count indictment accuses him of, among other things, joining al Qaeda after arriving in Afghanistan in 2001, fighting U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, and traveling to Africa "with the intent to conduct attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Nigeria," according to the office of the U.S attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • New York • Nigeria • Saudi Arabia • Terrorism
March 18th, 2013
12:04 AM ET

Saudi cleric to government: Clean up act

ne of Saudi Arabia's most prominent and popular clerics has issued a stark warning to the Saudi government, saying it must take serious steps toward instituting reform, stamping out corruption and releasing political detainees "before violence is kindled"

In an open letter published online over the weekend, Salman Al-Oadah described a rising tide of anger in the deeply conservative kingdom, writing that "negative feelings have been accumulating for a long time" in Saudi Arabia.

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Filed under: Saudi Arabia • World
March 13th, 2013
02:15 AM ET

Death toll from SARS-like virus rises to 9

There has been another confirmed case of a mysterious new SARS-like virus.

The Saudi health ministry informed the World Health Organization that a 39-year-old man was hospitalized with the novel coronavirus on February 28 and died two days later.

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Filed under: Health • Saudi Arabia • Science
January 8th, 2013
03:14 PM ET

Saudi man disputes reports bride is 15

A 70-year-old man in Saudi Arabia who is the focus of outrage from human rights workers reportedly for marrying a 15-year-old girl says she's not a teenager, but a woman.

"She is not 15, as everybody claims," he told CNN on Tuesday. "She's 25 years old, and she's mature enough to make her own decisions. ... I was fooled by the girl's family."

The marriage came to light when the man complained to a local official after his new wife left him, saying the girl's family had taken her back and he'd been ripped off for a large dowry he paid.

In Saudi Arabia, there is no law that stipulates a minimum age for marriage, but human rights groups are objecting and promising to give her legal help if she is required to dispute the union in court.

November 5th, 2012
03:55 PM ET

New Saudi interior minister named, signaling possible generational shift

Saudi Arabia's king has named Prince Mohammed bin Nayef  as interior minister, making him the first in the next generation of the Saudi royal family to rise to such a powerful post.

King Abdullah issued the royal order ousting Interior Minister Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, who had been named to the position in June and is Prince Nayef's uncle, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.


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Filed under: Saudi Arabia • Terrorism
22 killed in fuel tanker explosion in Saudi Arabia
Rescue workers inspect the scene of Thursday's blast in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
November 1st, 2012
06:20 AM ET

22 killed in fuel tanker explosion in Saudi Arabia

[Updated at 1:51 p.m. ET] A fuel tanker rammed into a bridge and exploded into a ball of fire Thursday, killing 22 people and sending flames sweeping over the Saudi Arabia capital, state television reported.

In addition to the fatalities, at least 111 others were wounded, according to the report.


October 31st, 2012
10:26 AM ET

Celebratory gunfire at Saudi wedding sparks fire, killing 23

Wedding guests fired into the air in a celebration of the happy couple. Soon, 23 people were dead.

The shots at the event in Saudi Arabia struck an electrical pole, which then collapsed, sparking a fire, according to state media.


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Filed under: Saudi Arabia • World
Suspect in Saudi ambassador assassination plot pleads guilty
Mansour Arbabsiar says he conspired with members of the Iranian military to plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.
October 17th, 2012
01:04 PM ET

Suspect in Saudi ambassador assassination plot pleads guilty

Manssor Arbabsiar once denied that he participated in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Now he says he did.

Arbabsiar, a 57-year-old Iranian-American man from Texas, pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to recruit a Mexican drug cartel to bomb a Washington, D.C., restaurant while Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir dined there.

Arbabsiar, who was arrested in September 2011 after an undercover informant's tip to authorities, said in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday that he conspired with members of the Iranian military in the formulation of the plot. The admission comes nearly a year after he pleaded not guilty.

Federal authorities say Arbabsiar and cohorts hired someone they thought was a cartel contact to assassinate the ambassador, but the contact was an undercover government informant who kept in contact with Arbabsiar until there was enough evidence for his arrest, according to federal court documents.

Timeline: Alleged plot to kill Saudi ambassador

Arbabsiar is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year dismissed allegations that Iran was connected to the plot.

June 25th, 2012
02:37 AM ET

Saudi Arabia to let women compete in Olympics for first time

Saudi Arabia will let its female athletes compete in the Olympics for the first time, its embassy in London said.

Until now, Saudi Arabia was one of three countries that did not allow women to participate in the games.

The other two - Qatar and Brunei - also reversed course this year and said they will send athletes to the London games that begin July 27.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wishes to reaffirm its support for the sublime meanings reflected by Olympic Games and the cherished values of excellence, friendship and respect that they represent," the Saudi embassy in London said in a statement, announcing its decision.

The statement added that women who qualify for the games will be allowed to participate.

The decision is a rare concession for a kingdom where women are banned from driving.

They also cannot vote or hold public office, though that will change in 2015.

Women in Saudi Arabia also cannot marry, leave the country, go to school or open bank accounts without permission from a male guardian, who usually is the father or husband. Much of public life is segregated by gender.

When it came to sports, female athletes were barred from the Olympic games because they would be participating in front of a mixed-gender crowd.

The Saudi embassy did not say what prompted the kingdom to change its mind.

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Filed under: Olympics • Saudi Arabia • Sports • World
June 18th, 2012
11:01 AM ET

Saudi Arabia names new crown prince

Saudi Arabia named Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz to be crown prince Monday, the state news agency reported, putting him next in line to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom.

His appointment comes a day after burial services for Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, whose death was announced Saturday.

Salman, who was already defense minister, retains that post and becomes deputy prime minister as well, the Saudi Press Agency reported Monday, citing a royal order.

Nayef, a hard-line conservative credited with pushing back al Qaeda, also served as interior minister. He is being replaced by Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Press Agency said.

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Filed under: Saudi Arabia
May 8th, 2012
08:09 AM ET

Bomb plot shows new level of sophistication, lawmaker says

Investigators were studying an explosive device Tuesday that they say terrorists in Yemen crafted to slip past airport metal detectors and onto an airplane bound for the United States.

U.S. intelligence agents thwarted the plot two weeks ago after receiving a tip from Saudi Arabia, a source familiar with the operation said Tuesday. Authorities have said airline passengers were never in danger and that the would-be bomber no longer poses a threat.

Even so, the plot highlights the resolve of terrorists to attack the United States a year after the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden in a stunning raid inside Pakistan.

It also shows the lengths they will go to achieve that goal, adapting new technologies to try to evade security, as well as the difficulties that U.S. authorities face in trying to guard against attack, said Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

"This seems to be a new level of sophistication by al Qaeda," King told CNN's "Starting Point."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Saudi Arabia • Terrorism • World • Yemen
April 27th, 2012
06:25 PM ET

Overheard on How should we handle widows, daughters of bin Laden?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Fourteen members of Osama bin Laden's family were deported to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan on Friday, less than a week ahead of the first anniversary of his death at the hands of U.S. commandos. Our readers are debating whether this was the appropriate action, and whether those associated with bin Laden should be adversely affected in turn.

Deported bin Laden widows, daughters go to Saudi Arabia

Some said they felt the bin Laden family is being treated too kindly. This was the most-liked comment.

cooldude2011: "The article says bin Laden and family lived in Pakistan for eight years with the help of Pakistanis who arranged 'everything' for them. Pakistan provides an 'all-inclusive' resort-like package deal to all kinds of terrorists as long as they pay them."

Then there were those who said others should not pay a price for bin Laden's issues.

Bobby62: "So what? These women are not responsible for bin Laden's actions. Being married to him was a big enough punishment as far as I am concerned."

But then, there are different definitions of punishment. FULL POST

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Filed under: Overheard on • Pakistan • Saudi Arabia • World
April 26th, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Bin Laden's formerly detained relatives leaving Pakistan

All family members of Osama bin Laden who had been detained are leaving Pakistan for Saudi Arabia on Thursday night, said an attorney for some of the family members.

A judge had ordered earlier this month that the terrorist mastermind's three widows and two daughters be deported after serving their sentence for living illegally in Pakistan.

The relatives were in Pakistani custody since U.S. Navy SEALs raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad and killed the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.

April 18th, 2012
12:58 AM ET

Bin Laden widows, daughters face deportation from Pakistan

Osama bin Laden's three widows and two daughters could be deported from Pakistan on Wednesday after their period of house detention expired overnight.

A Pakistani judge ordered earlier this month that the five women be deported back to their countries of citizenship after serving their sentence for living illegally in Pakistan.

The 45-day detention period ended Tuesday night, said Aamir Khalil, the widows' lawyer. But he said he had no information on when they would be deported.

The widows - identified by U.S. and Pakistani officials as Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar - have been in Pakistani custody since U.S. Navy SEALs raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad and killed the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.

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Filed under: Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Saudi Arabia • Yemen
Gotta Watch: Extreme sand and dust storms
CNN iReporter Mujahid Latif captured images of this storm in Saudi Arabia.
April 16th, 2012
06:03 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Extreme sand and dust storms

Hold on tight as you watch these videos! Photographers had to battle strong sand and dust storms to capture these eye-popping clips.  Our first "Gotta Watch" video was captured by iReporter Mujahid Latif as he watched a wall of sand blow through Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

This meteorological phenomenon impacted a wedding in Arizona, too. See how the couple reacted when their wedding ceremony was suddenly covered in dust.

And a CNN reporter got a taste of one of these storms while shooting on location in Iraq. See him covered in dust as he tries to report from Camp Adder.

You've "Gotta Watch" these videos and more!


Massive sandstorm outside Riyadh

iReporter Mujahid Latif witnesses a sandstorm outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Couple marries amid dust storm

An Arizona wedding ceremony is interrupted when a massive haboob sweeps dust all over the couple and their guests.


Reporter caught in Iraqi sandstorm

CNN's Fred Pleitgen finds himself in a nasty sandstorm as he shoots for BackStory.


Dust storm creates visibility issues

A dust storm makes its way across Arizona, reducing visibility to almost zero and causing headaches for motorists.

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Filed under: Arizona • Gotta Watch • iReport • Saudi Arabia • U.S. • Weather • World
January 12th, 2012
12:22 AM ET

Australian man sentenced to prison, lashes in Saudi Arabia headed home

An Australian man sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in prison after his conviction on blasphemy charges in Saudi Arabia has been pardoned and is headed home, officials said Thursday.

Mansor Almaribe was arrested and convicted in November in the city of Medina.

"Saudi Arabian authorities have granted Mr AlMaribe a pardon from his prison sentence, and his corporal punishment was also greatly reduced and administered in a way that did not cause physical harm," the Australian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not elaborate on how the lashing was carried out.

It's unclear what the 45-year-old Shia Muslim from Victoria state said or did to get arrested, but Australia had appealed for leniency after his sentence.

Australian officials said they were told Almaribe made comments "insulting to prophet Mohammed's relatives."

"I don't think my dad would even survive 50 lashes not 500," his son said last month. "He goes to the doctor every week for checks ups. He has knee injuries and back injuries from a car accident and he also has diabetes and high blood pressure."

The family spent weeks searching for the Iraqi-born father of five after he went missing in early November while performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Blasphemy is punishable by up to a death sentence under the strict Muslim law in Saudi Arabia.

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Filed under: Australia • Saudi Arabia • World
December 8th, 2011
04:44 AM ET

Family is puzzled by man's arrest, sentencing in Saudi Arabia

The family of an Australian man, convicted of blasphemy by a Saudi Arabian court, wonders what it is he could have said that earned him a sentence of 500 lashes and a year in prison.

Mansor Almaribe's son said the pair only had a 90-second phone conversation since his arrest last month.

"He could not speak freely because authorities were around him but he said the charges are very stupid and 'They charged me for something I have not done," his son, Issam, said.

Almaribe was found guilty of blasphemy after he was arrested last month in Medina while on a pilgrimage, Australian officials said.

It's unclear what the 45-year-old Shia Muslim from Victoria state said or did to get arrested.

"I don't think my dad would even survive 50 lashes not 500," the son said. "He goes to the doctor every week for checks ups. He has knee injuries and back injuries from a car accident and he also has diabetes and high blood pressure."

The family spent weeks searching for the Iraqi born father of five after he went missing in early November while performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

"When we found out what happened, it was the worst thing I ever pictured in my life," Almaribe said. "My mother cried the whole night and my baby brother cried because he saw my mom crying. It was the worst night ever imaginable."

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Filed under: Saudi Arabia • U.S. • World
November 23rd, 2011
08:39 AM ET

Embassy: Yemeni president in Saudi Arabia to sign deal

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday to attend a signing ceremony for a Gulf Cooperation Council proposal aimed at ending Yemen's months-long political crisis, a Yemeni official said.

Once Saleh signs the agreement, executive powers will be transferred to Vice President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi "effective immediately," Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for Yemen's embassy in Washington, said in a statement.

"This monumental agreement will hopefully bring an end to the 10-month long turmoil in the homeland," Albasha said.

Saleh will remain permanently in Saudi Arabia after he signs the deal, a presidential source said.

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Filed under: Arab unrest: developments • Saudi Arabia • World • Yemen
November 12th, 2011
04:13 PM ET

Bahrain arrests five suspects in alleged terror plot

Bahraini authorities discovered "a terror cell" and have arrested five people for allegedly planning attacks against government and diplomatic buildings as well as unidentified individuals, officials said Saturday.

The discovery of the alleged plot began when Qatari security authorities arrested four Bahrainis who entered Qatar from neighboring Saudi Arabia, said a Bahrain Ministry of Interior spokesman.

The suspects were carrying documents and a laptop "containing sensitive security information and details about some places and vital establishments in Bahrain, as well as airline bookings to Syria," the spokesman's statement said. The suspects were also carrying a "significant" amount of U.S. dollars and Iranian toman, the spokesman said.

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Filed under: Bahrain • Iran • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Syria • Terrorism
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