Results tagged “Saudi Arabia”
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Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Turkey said that although the grace period for returning jihadists expired on March 20, such fighters are still approaching Saudi embassies and asking for help in returning home. He also indicated they are still welcome to return, saying, "Our doors will always remain open for all Saudis coming from conflict regions or any other area." The majority are young and are coming from Syria, he said.
Al Qaeda strategist Faris al Zahrani, a.k.a. Abu Jandal al Azdi, was sentenced to death for charges including holding extremist views, killing Muslims and others, targeting security officials, and planning to overthrow Gulf monarchies. Zahrani, reportedly a top al Qaeda leader in Saudi Arabia, had defied rehabilitation efforts, vowing to continue terrorist activities if released. He was tried along with 15 members of his al Qaeda cell, who received prison terms ranging from one to 20 years.
A court sentenced 13 men to prison terms of up to 14 years for supporting terrorism, training at al Qaeda bases, and recruiting for jihad abroad. Among the nine Saudis, two Jordanians, an Egyptian, and a Syrian, some had financed terrorism in Iraq. Saudi officials decided to stop issuing tourist visas, in order to keep Saudi tourists inside the kingdom. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said that al Qaeda is using second-generation female members to entice young male and female recruits to the organization, by means of interactions in online forums and websites.
The Interior Ministry said it has designated the Muslim Brotherhood, the Al Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham as terrorist organizations. Saudi authorities are becoming concerned that jihadists will return from Syria and continue terrorist activities. Also designated were Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen and a Saudi Hezbollah group. Three men were sentenced to death for their roles in the 2003 al Qaeda suicide bombing of the al-Muhaya compound in Riyadh; two other men received 17-year sentences, but one was released due to ill health.
The Cabinet issued a statement calling on all foreign fighters to withdraw from Syria and said they should be subject to international prosecution for any war crimes committed there. It also condemned "terrorism in all its forms."
Responding to Russian criticism of the reported Saudi plan to provide MANPADs to Syrian rebels, the Foreign Ministry blamed Russian support of the Assad regime for the prolongation of the Syrian conflict. King Abdullah recently decreed that any citizen who fights abroad faces three to 20 years in prison, and anyone who incites others to fight abroad can get five to 30 years. While official estimates say no more than 3,000 Saudis are fighting in Syria, the actual number may be as high as 15,000.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking Pakistan's help in the provision of antiaircraft and antitank weapons for Syrian rebels. The Grand Mufti called on Saudi Arabians to donate to the Saudi National Campaign to Support Brothers in Syria. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the fund distributed over $114 million in support of displaced Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.
A court sentenced to death the leader of an al Qaeda cell that attacked foreigners in Yanbu in May 2004; two Americans, two Britons, and an Australian were killed in the attack. Ten other jihadists were given prison sentences of between three to 10 years.
A Saudi court convicted 15 of 22 men accused of providing support to al Qaeda, including fundraising, weapons training, sheltering known terrorists, fighting in theaters of jihad, and forging documents. They were sentenced to terms ranging from two to 15 years.
The Interior Minister said authorities will deport expatriates who engage in illegal fundraising, but praised legitimate channels such as the National Campaign to Support the Brothers in Syria. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice warned against celebrating the New Year.
Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and Hamood Abdulla Hamood, two ex-Guantanamo detainees who were suspected of membership in al Qaeda, were transferred to Saudi Arabia. Former intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal accused the US of being indecisive in the Middle East and failing to adequately support the Syrian rebels. A Saudi court sentenced Omar al Saeed, a political activist who has criticized the ruling family's human rights record, to 300 lashes and four years in jail for calling for a constitutional monarchy.
The Interior Ministry is expanding the kingdom's jihadist rehabilitation program, due to fears that jihadists in Syria will engage in terrorism when they return; three more rehab centers are planned in addition to the two already in operation. The number of Saudis fighting in Syria has been estimated at between 800 and 900. An Interior Ministry security official said that sheikhs who engage in argument with al Qaeda in the government's online theological forum often receive death threats.
Intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan said Saudi Arabia will make a "major shift" away from the US due to the US' policies towards Syria and Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the 2011 revolt in Bahrain. Former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama's Syrian policies "lamentable." US Secretary of State Kerry told Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that the US valued the kingdom's leadership and said it would have more influence if it accepted the seat on the UN Security Council. Saudi Arabia's UN envoy criticized Israel and the UN on the Palestinian situation.
The Foreign Minister said Egypt is fighting terrorism, and criticized Western condemnation of the Egyptian military government's crackdown on Islamists. He said Arab and Muslim nations will step in to help Egypt financially if Western countries cut aid in protest against the crackdown. King Abdullah has promised to stand by Egypt, and has condemned the Muslim Brotherhood.
Authorities disclosed the recent arrest of two men, a Chadian and a Yemeni, who are suspected of planning suicide attacks. The Interior Ministry said the men were part of a "deviant group abroad," a term it uses for al Qaeda, and claimed the ongoing investigation is related to the recent closure of US diplomatic facilities in the region.
A court sentenced Raif Badawi, who founded the 'Free Saudi Liberals' website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, to 600 lashes and seven years in prison for criticizing the religious police and allegedly advocating "religious liberalization." Authorities in Jazan seized weapons and ammunition smuggled into the country. A senior Saudi cleric recently urged the faithful in Mecca to support Syrian rebels "by all means."
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon warned that his country would deport anyone who financially supports Hezbollah. Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates said earlier this month they would start limiting transactions of Hezbollah members in the Gulf area.
The Interior Ministry announced that 166 convicted "extremists" have graduated from the government's rehabilitation program. Since its creation for years ago, the Saudi terrorism court has passed judgment on 2,145 defendants accused of supporting terrorism in the country; some 2,800 other such defendants are currently on trial.
Saudi Arabia will soon open a luxury rehabilitation center in Riyadh for al Qaeda militants. There is already a rehab center in Jeddah, and three more are in the works. A total of 2,336 al Qaeda operatives have gone through the rehab program so far; some have returned to jihad, including Said al Shihri, who later became deputy leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The religious program at the centers is ultra-conservative and similar to al Qaeda's ideology.