Saudi police arrest Qatar pilgrim on 'terror charges'

Saudi police arrest Qatar pilgrim on 'terror charges' ahead of Hajj

2 min read
05 July, 2018
Saudi authorities have arrested a Qatari man as he performed pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site amid a year-old diplomatic spat between Doha and its Gulf neighbours.
Thousands of Qatari pilgrims are expected to miss Hajj for the second consecutive year [Getty]

Saudi authorities have arrested a Qatari man as he performed pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site amid a year-old blockade against Doha led by its Gulf neighbours.

Qatari newspaper al-Sharq  reported on Thursday that Saudi security services detained the man at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on terror charges.

"Information indicates that the Qatari man was on his way to perform the lesser Umrah pilgrimage when he was arrested by Saudi authorities under mysterious circumstances," the report said.

"He now stands accused of terrorism," added.

The semi-official outlet warned Qataris against travelling to Mecca for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage out of fear they could be targeted by authorities.

Saudi news website al-Watan  reported on Wednesday that a Qatari man had been arrested during Ramadan and put on a state terror list.

It added that he was the second Qatari to have been arrested for "terrorism".

The unnamed man is the fourth Qatari to be arrested in Saudi Arabia since the outbreak of the Gulf crisis, which pits a Saudi-led bloc against Doha.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain broke off relations with Doha in June last year, accusing the gas-rich emirate of fostering close links with Iran and supporting Islamist extremists.

Qatar categorically denies the charges.

Thousands of Qatari pilgrims are expected to miss Hajj for the second consecutive year because of tough conditions from Saudi Arabia.

Qatari pilgrims are unable to fly directly from Doha to Jeddah, nor travel by road via the Saudi border, due to the Saudi-led land, air, and sea blockade in place.

Riyadh has long been accused of using the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is the most revered site in Islam, as a tool to exert political pressure or punish its opponents.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims who are able to must perform it at least once in their lives.