Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Youth and Terrorism…When Will it End? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A few days ago a group of Saudi Arabian youths were arrested in Pakistan on their way to joining up with Al Qaeda. Television screens showed images of the youths who were dressed shabbily and who stated their names and their cities of origin in Saudi Arabia.

And today we are facing questions that have been asked since the events of 9/11; who is responsible for pushing our youth into destruction? Who is responsible for defaming the reputation of the Saudi citizen? Who is stoking the fire [of extremism] inside Saudi Arabia?

I say – with conviction – that the Saudi Arabian government has made, and continues to make significant effort [to combat terrorism]; this has resulted in Saudi Arabia becoming a security model with international credentials in the fight against terrorism.

But is this enough?

The answer is no. The ideological war in Saudi Arabia [against extremism] continues to be fought but below the expected level, even though the Saudi media is fiercely in opposition to extremism and the extremists, and there is a social aversion to Al Qaeda, the takfiris, and those who support them. But despite this we continue to witness the destruction of our youth.

One of the Saudi youths arrested in Pakistan was recognized on television by his family, and his brother informed the Saudi Arabian Al-Watan newspaper that they had lost contact with him 9 months ago. After investigating the matter the family learnt that he had left Saudi Arabia by road for a Gulf state, and from there he traveled to Iran, eventually ending up in Pakistan.

A few days ago an article by our colleague Maad Fayed appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat on Sousa prison in which he revealed that there are around 48 Saudi nationals being detained in Iraqi Kurdistan, and that the authorities have revealed that they entered Iraq via Syria.

Should we then blame the Iranians, the Syrians, or others?

I do not think so.

We should first blame ourselves, and question why there is no ideological effort [to combat extremism] with regards to education and religious figures. The most important thing is to protect our youth and keep them away from this danger.

It is true that there are countries that exploit our youth, providing them with forged passports [to travel], and there are also countries that finance them, this is something that those in the know are certain of. However this is one thing, uprooting the sources that incite [extremism] inside Saudi Arabia is something else entirely.

The most important thing is to track down these instigators in Saudi Arabia, and undertake ideological effort that equals the security effort [to combat this]. This should be along the lines of the national dialogue that has been taking place in Saudi Arabia over the past few years, its main theme being merely to discuss the causes behind extremism, and the corruption of our youth.

A dialogue not for review, fame, or exchange, but an all-inclusive dialogue that does not specify one group against another, or one ideology against another. We must talk openly about the reasons behind our youth’s destruction, using studies and figures. All of this effort should not be in vain, especially the effort seen in Saudi Arabia over the past 5 years which has witnessed a large and useful change on all levels, not to mention the huge security efforts that were and are being made [to combat terrorism].

However, let us be honest with each other, the religious and ideological efforts in Saudi Arabia must be doubled in order to protect the youth from the evil [people] that seek to incite them, as well as to protect the youth from themselves, and above and before all of this, to protect Saudi Arabia. That is the most important thing.