Helicopter Surveillance To Check Border Infiltration

RIYADH, 19 November 2005 — Saudi Arabia is planning to institute helicopter mounted border controls along the country’s frontier with Iraq. They will help check infiltration by illegal immigrants and the smuggling of arms and narcotics along the 830-kilometer border.

More than 50,000 illegal immigrants including criminals are arrested every month while they try to cross into Saudi Arabia from Iraq, Yemen and other countries bordering the Kingdom.

“Aerial surveillance using military planes or helicopters will help to monitor the border more effectively and restore order in the border regions,” said Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Anazi, commander of the Saudi Border Guards. He could not say when the aircraft would be deployed but he confirmed plans are being finalized.

More than 600 Iraqis were arrested over the last six months when they tried to sneak into the Kingdom. The absence of adequate security measures on the Iraqi side of the border emboldened the infiltrators, Saudi officials said.

Al-Anazi contradicted reports about continuing infiltration of Saudis into Iraq, saying the border guards have not detained any Saudi trying to get into Iraqi territory to the day.

“The reports are unfounded and baseless,” said Al-Anazi. He said measures taken by the Saudi government including the installation of heat sensitive cameras along the border areas helped to bring down the number of infiltrators.

Of late, the Kingdom has intensified patrols along its border with neighboring countries foiling attempts to smuggle huge quantities of arms, explosives and narcotics into the Kingdom.

The government has constituted a special force of border guard personnel to boost its capability to fight organized crime and illegal movement across the borders.

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