London Asharq Al-Awsat- According to a report by the Washington based Center for Strategic and International Studies Saudi Nationals involved in the insurgency in Iraq, make up the smallest number of foreign fighters active there.
The study, which Asharq Al-Awsat obtained a copy of points out that the vast majority of foreign fighters are not former terrorists but were actually radicalized by the Iraq war itself. The same study found the majority of the Saudi fighters were inspired to go to Iraq by images that they saw on Arab satellite news channels.
According to CSIS, as of august 2005, 352 Saudis are believed to have entered Iraq. Out of that figure, 150 are thought to be active, whereas 72 are recognized from Al-Qaeda lists of active militants in Iraq, with a further74 presumed to be in detention, with the remaining 56 presumed dead.
The study estimated the largest foreign contingent was made up of 600 Algerian fighters, Followed by 550 Syrians, 500 Yemenis, 450 Sudanese, 400 Egyptians, 350 Saudis, and 150 fighters from other countries who have had crossed into Iraq to fight.
The study also points out that the majority of "Saudi Militants in Iraq were motivated revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by a non-Arab country". This coupled with the images on satellite television and the internet became the catalyst for the Saudi insurgents, with many citing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and images of Guantanamo Bay as chief motivators.
Another factor highlighted are the fatwas issued by religious scholars in Saudi Arabia, particularly a November, 2004 fatwa issued by twenty-six Saudi Imams. The report details the Saudi government”s efforts in combating militant Clergy including, crackdowns on non-sanctioned Imams, new laws prohibiting the issuing of Fatwas from clerics who are not associated with the state sponsored Senior Council of Ulema, which the report reveals has put a stop to such fatwas being issued.
Regarding the speculation on the number of Saudi nationals participating in the insurgency in Iraq Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Mansour al-Turki told Asharq Al-Awsat "there is no accurate information available concerning the number of Saudis fighting in Iraq since that did not enter the country by official means, but some media elements have over exaggerated the figure"