Shortly after it was announced that members of an Al Qaeda cell had been found in a mountain cave on the Saudi-Yemeni border and arrested, I attended a gathering with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz in which he spoke about various administrative and development issues and expressed important views and opinions on these issues.
There was something very important about Prince Naif’s comments on terrorism and its challenges; it was the confident tone of his voice and his choice of words. Today, Saudi Arabia, through its battle against terrorism and the exceptional manner with which it has dealt with this issue, has become an ideological and security reference because of the way it has dealt with this cancerous threat. At the heart of this battle against terrorism is role of the Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, Prince Mohammed Bin Naif.
I was at a conference where international security issues were being discussed and extremism and terrorism were among the topics on the agenda. On the sidelines of the meeting, I spoke to a retired British senior security official and during our conversation he expressed his admiration for Prince Mohammed Bin Naif’s methodology in dealing with the unprecedented challenge of terrorism and the way that he has distinguished between the security confrontation, on the one hand, and ideological confrontation on the other, both of which have been provided with material, institutional and human support. Prince Mohammed Bin Naif has built bridges of trust between him and the executive cadres in the Ministry of Interior, and with the public and the media sector as well. He established a solid approach for public participation in security affairs. Consequently, Saudi society interacted with the martyred members of security forces who died as they combated terror. This approach became what we now call a case study for others to benefit from. Today, this approach is being studied carefully by numerous security apparatus around the world.
Dealing with terrorism, which the Saudi security forces are doing today, is no ordinary challenge. When an army’s forces are being deployed to face an enemy on its borders, they are aware of the kind of danger they are facing and can deal with this enemy. However, in the case of terrorism, it is an unknown and mysterious enemy that requires intelligence-gathering and having adequate security on the ground as well as monitoring the web, which is teeming with all sorts of dangerous ideas.
There is a kind of “happiness” amongst Saudis over the important and remarkable results that have been achieved thus far and this cannot be overlooked or denied. This feeling of happiness is gradually being translated into a sense of pride and dignity with respect to the performance and methodology of security cadres. Some people even compared these successes to the victories of the Saudi national football team and the celebrations that followed such feats. Therefore, these security achievements have contributed to raising spirits in a tangible manner and strengthening the sense of belonging amongst the people.
The counter-terrorism unit in the Saudi Ministry of Interior has transformed into a model of effective management and efficiency in achieving results. It is a success story that deserves to be told and documented on a large scale owing to its great significance in demonstrating capability, leadership, teamwork and the struggle for achieving bigger and more important goals.
New generations of Saudi youth need to take a close look at this significant and remarkable experience because it could be one of the most powerful driving forces behind strengthening the sense of belonging.
The country is in dire need of raising the patriotic spirit in the face of gloom, ignorance and isolation. The arrest of the terrorist cell on the Saudi-Yemeni borders is another remarkable achievement that can be credited to the Saudi security forces. It is hoped, and required, that there is more awareness of- and participation in- such achievements so that such benefits can prevail.