Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A Clear Generation Gap in Saudi Most Wanted List | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Abdullah Al Jebairi Al Shahri is seventeen years old, while Hussein Abdu Mohamed is entering his fifty-second year.

What do these two men have in common?

Their names are both on the Most Wanted list released by Saudi authorities a few days ago, and forwarded to Interpol [ensuring] that they will be pursued wherever they are [in the world].

There is a thirty-five year gap between the birth of Abdullah [Al Shahri] and Hussein [Mohamed]. Thirty-five years separates these two generations, so what are the reasons for the fiery youth [Al Shehri] and the middle-aged veteran [Mohamed] to be included on the same list?

What was noticeable with regards to the Saudi list of 85 suspected on charges of being involved in terrorist activities is the sheer variety of ages, backgrounds and appearance of those included on the list, not to mention their regions [of origin] which comprise Central, Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Saudi Arabia.

According to information, the current location of those listed ranges between Iran and Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of course Iraq which remains an attractive and romantic destination to these youth who are keen on death and martyrdom.

The information also reveals that some of those included on this list are very young, the youngest of whom is Abdullah Al Jebairi Al Shahri [age 17] who has joined his Uncle Yusuf Al Jebairi Al Shahri (aged 24) in Yemen. There are four members of the Saudi most wanted list currently believed to be in Yemen, including Yemeni Nasser Al Wahshi, who recently announced the creation of “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” a terrorist cell that he commands.

Included in the list are people like Baheij Al-Buheajy or Rayed Abdullah Salem Al Harbi who are only twenty years old; while others like Naif Mohamed Al Qahtani and Hamd Hussein Nasser Al Hussein are twenty-one years old. There are those who are twenty-two years of age like Hassan Ibrahim Hamd Al Shaban, and some who are twenty-three years of age like Abdullah Hassan Al Aseery. The most dangerous individual on the list is Abdullah El Qarawi, he leads Al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf, and has recruited a number of jihadists all over the world; he is twenty-six years old.

The list also includes a number of individuals in their thirties such as; Turki Mashawi Al Aseery, and Ahmed Abdullah Al Zahrani, who are both thirty-one years old. Jaber Jabran is thirty-four years of age, Khalid Ibrahim Al Aseery is aged thirty-seven years of age, Badr Al Oufi Al Harbi is aged thirty-eight, and Abdullah Abdul-Rahman Al Harbi is aged thirty-nine.

The ages [of most of those on the list] range from between 25 and 35 years old, this can be explained in the light of those that are currently twenty-five years old were seven-teen years old during the events of September 11 2001. It was this event that opened the eyes of the entire world to the problems of religious terrorism, and the battle with Salafist Jihadist ideology. It was natural for those that came of age during this time to take lessons from the events of 9/11, and be affected by the religious zeal [that was prevalent at this time] and which examines issues from the angle of right and wrong, and in the light of the crusades which is consistent with the vocabulary of Al Qaeda. They took all of this [ideology] and applied it in a deeper and firmer way which has affected all of those who came of age during this time.

But how can we understand the stories of those who were only 12 years old when 9/11 took place. Baheij Al-Buheajy (33 on the most wanted list) and Rayed Abdullah Salem Al Harbi (35 on the most wanted list) are both currently 20 years old, this means that they were only children aged twelve when the 9/11 bombings occurred.

But how could these children not be affected by the media and military war on terror, and by the massive campaign in Saudi Arabia against Al Qaeda and its ideology?

How else did they learn about Al Qaeda and its ideology over the previous five years?

Does this mean that there is a new generation of Al Qaeda soldiers, who were not affected by the media and military campaigns [against them], or by the Munasaha [rehabilitation program]; from where did they receive this culture of terrorism and fundamentalist militancy? And from who?

What is new is the sheer range of ages of those included in this most wanted list, and this is due to the arrival of the “children of 9/11” who are perhaps the most important and dangerous feature of this list.

As for the third generation [of terrorists] such as Al Shahri and Al Oufi who are in their thirties; they are perhaps becoming the new generation of Al Qaeda leaders.

One questions remains however, and that is the inclusion of a man in his fifties in this list of fiery youths. I am referring of course to Hussein Abdu Mohamed, the 52-year old Meccan native. We are informed that the reason for his inclusion in the list is that he fled from the authorities after a Somali worker he had officially vouched for was involved in a security case. And so is the inclusion of “Uncle Hussein” to this list just an exaggeration, or does his involvement go beyond mere fear of the security authorities?