Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Advisory Committee in Saudi Arabia revealed that the activities of the formed court, which will follow up criminals involved in terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, would be similar to the State Security court. The committee’s activities will be under the framework of the Ministry of Justice and under the supervision of a number of prominent judges who are specialists in the field of security affairs. In his interview with Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, Dr. Mohamed Al-Nejeemy asserted that women are involved in spreading terrorism by encouraging their own sons to carry out terrorist attacks and to support extremist movements.
Q) Could you tell us about the latest efforts exerted by the Advisory Committee?
A) The Advisory committee, which comprises of a number of legislators, psychotherapists, security officials and social therapists, is determined in its efforts to offer advice. The efforts of the committee can be seen through the continuous positive results as extremists withdraw from this way of thinking. The committee holds a number of sessions with detainees. Over 5 weeks, the topics discussed within these sessions include loyalty, love for Muslims, jihad as well as learning about psychology. They are examined in the 6th week to test whether there has been a change in their ideologies.
Q) Tell us about the members of the Advisory committee.
A) The majority of members are fixed, yet there are a number of members who regret not being able to continue working as part of the committee as they have their own commitments. Those who lack ability are excluded by the committee.
Q) How many members are there in the Advisory Committee?
A) There are over 100 members.
Q) Some believe that a number of former extremists return to this way of thinking as soon as they are released from prison, indicating a lack of credibility to the Advisory committee. How do you evaluate this claim?
A) The truth is that none of those who have been released following meetings with the Advisory committee which was established two years ago have returned to the same line of extremist ideology. The Advisory committee has not detected this in any of the former detainees. The 40 terrorists who were arrested recently were released before the Advisory committee was even established.
Q) What are the practical methods used to change the ideology of detained extremists? How do you ensure that the detainees are genuine in their claims of transformation?
A) This is done through a number of methods. The advice offered by the Advisory Committee to individuals is constant and whoever is not genuine will be discovered by one of the numerous branches of the committee. The security section in the committee plays a significant role in monitoring extremists by looking at the way they deal with fellow convicts and officers. Through a range of aspects, the credibility of change in the thinking of detained extremists is examined.
Q) How do you deal with some extremists who refuse to receive preachers who they do not trust?
A) This used to happen in the beginning but currently, only a small number of these extremists refuse to deal with preachers, as the majority cooperates with the committee.
Q) There has been talk about preachers of the Advisory Committee sympathizing with detained extremists. To what extent is this true?
A) I have never heard this claim before. However, because some of the preachers are hasty and easily overwhelmed by emotions, this may lead them to believe what the young men say. Nevertheless, this does not mean that preachers support terrorist actions carried out by these convicts. The small number that does is immediately excluded from the committee.
Q) Some have suggested that detainees are isolated from each other so as not to have a negative impact on each other. Do you support this suggestion?
A) This suggestion has already been implemented by the Ministry of Interior Affairs. Extremists and other dangerous elements are secluded from the very beginning.
Q) How does the advisory committee deal with different extremists?
A) Those who were practically involved in terrorist activities are seen by a special committee of advisors who are more cautious in the security sense and ideologically.
Q) How many detainees considered as dangerous are being held in prisons?
A) I do not have an accurate number but the number of those categorized as dangerous is estimated at only 10%.
Q) How many detainees are there?
A) I cannot state a fixed number as the figure always changes as some are admitted and others released. However, I denounce all the exaggerated statements given by media, which estimates the number of detainees in the thousands. This is definitely untrue; the figure would not exceed two hundred.
Q) What has been the impact of extremist ideologies?
A) The most prominent impact has been the idea of denouncing others as infidels by those who return the battlefields in Chechnya and Afghanistan. Political circumstances are overwhelming in Islamic countries such as Palestine and Iraq and this deeply invokes anger amongst the youth. The problem arises when some strayed spectrums of society abuse these circumstances and exploit technology to serve their evil causes.
Q) What about summer camps and national curriculums?
A) Violation can take place anywhere, but I would like to assert that summer camps, education curricula, and Quran recitation classes are blameless for any deviation or extremism amongst the youth. What we had witnessed was that the deviation of the youth had taken place even before these young men joined any of these centers or classes. These young men do not recognize the curriculum or summer camps as such facilities are affiliated to the government. They are suspicious of the neutrality of these institutions. However, we have to assert that the state’s supervision is important and necessary. To demonstrate this point is the instruction of some extremists not to listen to the broadcasting of the Quran transmitted by the state.
Q) So violations have taken place in these areas.
A) Extremism is a fact that we have to acknowledge. Yet the percentage of violations in such locations is limited and low, and it is for that reason that we should not spread claims that violations have plagued these associations.
Q) What role have women played in this field?
A) Women play a major role in this field. Extremism, which is present amongst youth, is also visible amongst women. We have heard and witnessed women sympathizing with the youth. To counter this phenomenon, the ministry of Islamic affairs intends to qualify a number of female preachers.
We have to note that the ministry had accredited the establishment of a public authority to report directly to the minister of Islamic affairs. The task of this authority would not be limited to supervision but would also monitor.
Q) Could you tell us about the impact of extremist ideology of women upon detainees?
A) According to one of the detainees, he was completely unaware of extremist ideologies until his mother had convinced him to join (a group). His mother reiterated frequently that these terrorists were fighting in a holy war (Jihad) and that the country is in danger of being dominated by the west. He said that his mother asked him to take part in jihad. Nevertheless, the role of women in spreading extremist ideologies is still smaller than that of men.
Q) Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz declared the founding of a court that resembles the State Security Court. What can you tell us about this?
A) The court system in our country is civilian and not military and this is what distinguishes the kingdom of Saudi Arabia from other countries. Regarding the procedures that will take place after the trials of those involved in terrorist activities and according to Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Minister of Interior Affairs, a court that resembles that of the State Security court will be established. This means that specialist judges who work under the administration of the Ministry of Justice will be selected to convene the trials of those involved in bombings and terrorists attacks.
Q) How would this court be similar to the State Security Court?
A) The resemblance lies mainly in the method used to select judges who have strong experience in the field of security. The new court however, will include a court of appeal unlike the State Security court where the judges have military origins.
Q) Will the detainees be assigned lawyers?
A) Definitely. If the detainees have the financial ability to assign a lawyer themselves, then they will be allowed to select one to represent them. If they cannot afford a lawyer, the state will assign lawyers to represent them.
Q) Will you call for the holding of public trials for detainees involved in extremist activities?
A) Actually, I do not recommend this. This might harm a number of countries and figures, and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is concerned about international affairs. However, this issue is for the Ministry of Justice and the new court to decide.
Q) Was the Advisory Committee able to prove that some of the detainees were led on by a number of foreign countries?
A) There are rebellious objectors who live in European countries such as Britain and Holland who have denied the roles that they have played in Saudi Arabia. They had invoked anger amongst the youth through television and the internet.
Q) Are there any international interventions implied in terrorist attacks?
A) No clear intervention from foreign countries were proved. However, a fear that remains is that some espionage activities by intelligence units have taken place.
Q) Will more detainees be released in the near future?
A) I cannot say when or how many detainees will be released, however, I can confirm that a number of detainees who were not involved any terrorist attacks will be released.