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Saudi Arabia’s Senior Ulema Council Criminalizes Terrorism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Kingdom’s Senior Ulema Council has resolved one of the most important and controversial dossiers by descriptively defining “terrorism” and criminalizing its financing. The Council considered its criminalization of terrorism applicable to all terrorist actions to which the countries of the world are subjected and not just Saudi Arabia.

The council’s decision stipulates the “criminalization of the financing of terrorism” and it stressed its dangers, considering the financer “a partner” in crime, as the Shariaa texts make it clear. The Shariaa fatwa reached by the Senior Ulema Council is considered “important and unprecedented” as it criminalizes terrorism and refers to “fighting and criminalizing terrorism in all its forms and kinds, including its financing” according to the text of the decision that sources have reported to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The decision did not include a specific penalty for the financers of terrorism and left it to the judiciary to determine the penalty under Shariaa law.

The Senior Ulema Council’s decision included a definition of terrorism which was confined to descriptions, saying that these include “targeting public resources, spreading corruption, hijacking planes, and bombing buildings.” It stressed that the opinion it has concluded concerning the definition of terrorism and the criminalization of its action and financing does not concern Saudi Arabia alone but includes the Muslim countries and other countries of the world.

It becomes clear from the ulema’s decision that it excluded charity work from the responsibility for backing and financing terrorism while making individuals involved in exploiting charity work responsible. It exempted charitable work which targets the poor and the building of hospitals and schools on the basis that these are charitable functions under Islamic Shariaa.

By making this decision, the Senior Ulema Council has reached a definition which criminalizes all the terrorist actions by Al-Qaeda organization in Saudi territories since 12 May 2003. The 9/11 events when 19 Al-Qaeda members hijacked three civilian planes are considered “criminal” according to the Saudi ulema’s decision.

The council held an extraordinary secret meeting since last Saturday which the secretariat general called for to discuss the issue of “criminalizing terrorism.” It concluded its meetings and deliberations by sunset on Monday and reached the historic decision about the terrorism phenomenon and the criminalization of its financing in all its forms and kinds.