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17 Years for Supporting Terrorism - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In an important step on the path toward combating terrorism, a Saudi court sentenced a Saudi national convicted of inciting terrorism to seven years in prison, and sentenced another to 10 years in prison for financing acts of terrorism. Finally, the picture has become clear to everyone after years of controversy over responsibility for crimes committed under religious and political labels. The punishment for such crimes has now become heavy, and individuals are now incarcerated if they deliver speeches or write articles inciting terrorism, or alleged jihad, or donate funds to terror organizations. In the past, punishment was limited to actual perpetrators and terrorists who committed crimes. Most of the militants of Al-Qaeda were in fact victims of inciters and financiers while these and the rest of individuals in the chain of terror crimes were far from being held to account.

For over 10 years, we have urged and recommended the eradication of inciters and the pursuit of funding organizations and other facades which were active in the field and which acted openly under religious, political, and jihadist slogans. When the fire reached our cities in 2003 and terrorists targeted residential complexes with their explosives, the picture became somewhat clearer. And even though fighting terrorism became official policy, the view of terrorists remained confused in the minds of the majority of people. The fall of many terrorist cells revealed a great deal of information confirming what we had been saying. Many of the calls for donations were not innocent. They were organized and a link in a long chain of terrorist crimes committed under religious and humanitarian disguise. They raised sincere calls and pictures but their purposes were far from what appeared to ordinary observers.

Everyone can now see that the security agencies have succeeded in cornering and cleansing the country of terrorists. Terrorism militants have been forced to flee abroad and financiers have been forced to go underground. In the past, they used to openly collect donations for their secret organizations in the name of Muslim orphans, widows, the poor, and the destitute. Although terrorist groups fled abroad and financiers and collectors of funds have resorted to secrecy, incitement to terror has, regrettably, continued up to this day. The frequency of acts of terror has dwindled and the inciters now resort to less blunt language. And although they take advantage of times of crisis to incite terrorism, regrettably, incitement to terrorism continues to exist up to this day in non-conventional media outlets.

The sentencing of a terrorism-inciter to seven years in prison is a significant step, but it is more important to publicize this punishment in order to combat terror crimes which have spread in the uncontrolled media outlets and multiple forums. The task of monitoring hundreds of websites, mosque pulpits, videotapes, and cd’s, which incite violence and encourage fighting, is almost impossible. However, the fact that these acts are now regarded as crimes, and that they are being publicized as such, is at this stage enough to deter inciters who believe that terror crimes are only limited to those who carry explosives and who are involved in direct killing.

The Islamic countries have lost tens of thousands of youths who believed the propaganda of inciters and joined the fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia unaware of the nature of these organizations and their goals. Those who were lured by jihadist slogans were victims of this jihadist propaganda. If this propaganda is stopped, the large-scale of acts of terrorism we currently witness will end. Although terrorism has been defeated, it has not completely stopped. The capture of a terrorist in Yanbu last week is a case in point. Beyond the Saudi borders and the Yemeni hills are tens of terrorists, if not hundreds, are awaiting an opportunity to commit crimes.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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