LONDON, Aug. 30 -- Muslim militants arrested in an alleged plot to overthrow the Oman government have close ties with the moderate Muslim Brotherhood, the London Arabic daily al-Hayat newspaper said Tuesday. Unidentified Islamic Gulf sources told al-Hayat the arrests 'are an early warning from the authorities to Islamists that they can reach both influential leaders as well as active university students and professors.'
The Omani government issued a statement Monday saying security forces had arrested more than 200 suspects in an alleged plot to use violence destabilize the country. The Information Ministry said the network was 'linked organizationally and financially with foreign parties.' The statement did not say when the arrests were made and did not name the foreign countries allegedly involved in the plot. The arrests surprised the Islamic sources quoted by al-Hayat because those arrested were linked to the moderate Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was the leading Islamic movement across the Arab world in the 1950s and was banned by some governments because it advocated a replacement of secular law with law based on Islamic principles. The Brotherhood has since been overshadowed by more radical Islamic groups. The newspaper said those arrested included Sheikh Mohamed al-Ghazali, a respected 55-year old religious leader, and his two brothers. The brothers were released without charge but al-Ghazali was still being held, the newspaper said. Al-Hayat said arrests began in mid-June and have included Egyptian and Jordanian university professors. Sheikh al-Ghazali was arrested in a dramatic commando-style assault in which a helicopter landed near his luxurious palace with armed officers, the sources said. Al-Ghazali comes from an old and wealthy family from Oman's southern Dhofar province, the newspaper said. The crackdown is the third of its kind over the past three years, the newspaper said.