Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has arrested two suspected al Qaeda members who may have been plotting against Western embassies in the Middle East, the interior ministry has announced.
The two men, a Yemeni and a Chadian national had contacts with the Yemeni branch of the terror network, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula , according to ministry spokesman General Mansour al Turki.
The Chadian suspect had been expelled from Saudi Arabia but he returned with a passport issued by another country, Turki added.
"The two suspects may have been implicated in the threats against Western embassies in the region," he said.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen by Washington as the most active branch of the jihadist network.
It was formed in January 2009 as a merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of al Qaeda and is led by Nasser al Wuhayshi.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal citing an anonymous US official, Wuhayshi masterminded the plot.
If confirmed, the idea that Zawahiri played a passive role in the plot will lend weight to US President Barack Obama`s claim that so-called "core al Qaeda" is on the ropes.
But it will also feed fears that regional al Qaeda franchises, such as Wuhayshi`s AQAP, are becoming major threats in their own right.
According to Yemeni officials, his group planned to storm a Western-run oil terminal and seize a port city.
US officials have not said what they think the targets were, but they closed 19 embassies and diplomatic missions in the Muslim world until at least the end of the week.
Yemeni officials believe they have foiled the plot, and there have been several reported US drone strikes this week.
The latest trio of strikes yesterday killed 12 al Qaeda militants, according to Yemeni military official sources.