Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Saudi Arabia Warns Against Its Own
By Tariq Alhomayed
This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 11/01/2011
Some people continue to excel at denying the existence of problems, such as that some of our own have become affiliated with Al Qaeda and embroiled in terrorist crimes. However at the same time as this, Riyadh has publicly announced, during a press conference, that it is pursuing a list of 47 most wanted terrorist suspects who are believed to be residing abroad, describing these Saudi nationals as being "very dangerous." Saudi Arabia provided this information to "all countries via Interpol, so that they can be fully aware of the danger posed by these individuals" according to the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry spokesman.
The Interior Ministry announcement of this list of 47 most wanted terrorist suspects confirms that Saudi security has reached a stage of extreme development with regards to its professionalism and confidence. This is also evidence that the Saudi security apparatus have reached an important conviction, which is that transparency and clarity are among the best tools in confronting Al Qaeda; this is because the battle is one of public opinion, an internal conflict, rather than foreign propaganda.
There has not been a lot of national or international interest in news about terrorist plots being thwarted, or terrorist networks being dismantled, particularly when this news lack sufficient details such as names and pictures, and in fact such news is instead viewed as being nothing more than attempted propaganda. The best example here is when Iran recently announced that it had arrested Al Qaeda affiliates in its country and nobody paid any attention to this news, particularly as this news was revealed after information was leaked indicating that Tehran had released a number of Al Qaeda commanders who were residing there. It is [also] customary for states to warn one another and share information with regards to combating terrorism, for Al Qaeda does not operate without external coordination, and a senior security official informed me that "our intelligence officers say that Al Qaeda does not operate without external communication."
While it is true that in some cases the security agencies must withhold certain information [from the public] to protect an investigation or operation, however this is something that should not last for too long, especially as Al Qaeda is proficient at media propaganda. This [media propaganda] is impossible to address except through transparency, which is something that the Saudi security apparatus realized very early on. Therefore, the Saudi Arabian announcement of this list of 47 most wanted terrorist suspects, and Riyadh warning all other countries of the danger posed by these individuals, is evidence of the professionalism of Saudi Arabian security, and proof of their leaderships' dependability. The Saudi security apparatus has a long reach today in combating terrorism, and we can recall that Saudi security was responsible for uncovering the Yemeni Parcel Bomb plot, which targeted cargo planes, warning some European countries of this, including France, as subsequently revealed by officials there.
When Saudi Arabia issues a public warning against some of its own sons, it is informing its citizens of the reality of the situation, and proving its responsibility and dependability to the world at large, doing its duty and warning everybody in a very clear manner. This also prevents those who want to falsely implicate Saudi Arabia with every terrorist act for no other reason than to harm Saudi Arabia's good name, particularly as Al Qaeda has utilized all nationalities in its wicked battle. Here we must also stress that the battle against Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia is not merely a security battle, but also a battle to dismantle the seeds of this ideology; it is an ideological battle on all levels, and there must be a revision of many things which feed Saudi Arabian culture.