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Shock of The Seven Hundred - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We are under no illusion that Al-Qaeda has been destroyed. The question that keeps cropping up is: When, where and how will it strike again?

The worst of Al-Qaeda came to light with the arrest of 700 suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia in the past six months. We realize that Al-Qaeda will repeatedly seek to attack important sites and will recruit whoever it finds along the way, but such a figure is terrifying in every sense of the word.

Such large-scale recruitment reflects the determination of Al-Qaeda to execute a sensational operation that will shake the world. Targeting oil installations would suffice, affecting the entire world and granting Al-Qaeda publicity on par with that of the September 11th attacks.

Year after year, Saudi security proved its ability to ensnare Al-Qaeda’s recruits and uncover its operations. This rendered Saudi security the best in the field and proved its exceptionality in penetrating the organization that has targeted the Kingdom since the 1990s.

However, terrorism persists despite the talk of curtailment of Al-Qaeda activity and the consecutive losses befalling. Successfully acquiring 700 recruits confirms the vitality of Al-Qaeda and the feasibility of terrorist thought, recruitment, financing and activity.

As long as there are propitious grounds for producing terrorists, terrorism and terrorist attempts will not cease. Despite what has been done, said, and tried over the past few years, we find that we are unable to eradicate terrorism. Combating it requires fighting its ideology and pursuing its sympathizers and sources. This entails significantly more political courage than we see today.

Recall that the work of terrorists has become easier as governments find combating them more difficult. There are three reasons for this: First, technology to send and receive information expands every day, horizontally as well as vertically. Second, increased oil revenues have created abundant financial resources. Third, conspiring regimes in the region are competing to finance and facilitate terrorist networks to nudge the groups in hostile directions that feed their national agendas.

However, the most basic steps include improving educational curricula and quality of teachers, developing charities, summer camps and media associations, and placing restrictions on those who advocate extremism.

We are at war with terrorism. It is imperative that we confront the problem radically instead of merely trimming the sides. All these activities can be postponed to the end of the war, for the extremist organizations and their sympathizers try to penetrate them and use them, and as we have seen, they have succeeded more than once and in more than one place.

Al-Qaeda masterminds enjoy guaranteed results in today’s naïve and relaxed environment. The atmosphere allows them to successfully execute their most important recruitment tool: penetrating minds. 700 detainees! The number proves that the security body is alert, and that Al-Qaeda finds those who seek it.

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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