Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Saudi Arabia’s Special Emergency Force [SEF] has conducted counter-terrorism and anti-piracy military training, which aims to deter Al Qaeda terrorist operations and maritime piracy. The training focused upon methods of regaining control of hijacked airplanes or oil tankers, in military exercises dubbed “Sawlet al-Haq” [the Attack of Truth], which were attended by Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Naif.
This is the fourth time that the SEF has carried out anti-terrorism and anti-piracy training operations. The SEF leadership described the training operation as being “tactical [military] exercises” to raise the combat capabilities of the SEF troops.
The SEF is a counter-terrorism Special Forces unit of the Saudi Arabian General Security force and has played a prominent role in counter-terrorist operations in Saudi Arabia, particularly since the Riyadh Compound Bombings on 12 May 2003.
During the fourth “Sawlet al-Haq” training exercise, SEF forces practiced dealing with a number of scenarios, including regaining control of a hijacked oil tanker, dealing with terrorists who have taken refuge in a residential neighborhood, as well as methods of liberating a hijacked airplane from terrorists.
SEF officers stressed that their troops had “received extensive training” on how to produce capable and effective cadres who can cope with and adapt to any military situation.
The SEF also trained using military helicopters, training in various methods of utilizing helicopters during their military operations. The SEF training exercises utilized live ammunition, and one training scenario was based upon a terrorist attack that targeted the SEF headquarters 7 years ago.
One of the SEF missions in Saudi Arabia is to oversee the transfer of prisoners to court. The SEF leadership consider “attempts to free prisoners and enable them to escape” to be a possibility and something that must be trained for, particularly as thousands of Saudi citizens have been implicated in Al Qaeda operations since 2003.
The SEF trained in how to deal with prisoner transfers, how to control the situation on the ground in the event that there is an attempt to break out a prisoner. SEF protocol sees security troops respond on the ground, with an SEF helicopter being called in to secure the prisoner.
Members of the SEF are permitted to use specialized weaponry, and SEF officials have confirmed that their troops are extremely well-trained in all weaponry.
The fourth Sawlet al-Haq training exercises also focused on how to clear a residential district where terrorists are hiding, as well as scenarios where Al Qaeda terrorists are using human shields.
The SEF are also responsible for dealing with terrorists who have sought refuge in residential neighborhoods due to their high level of training, and their ability to land forces on residential rooftops utilizing military helicopters, thereby sparing the human population any collateral damage from the two sides exchanging fire.
The SEF leadership also said that their troops are prepared and ready to deal with any maritime piracy in Saudi Arabian territorial waters.
During the “Sawlet al-Haq” military training exercises, SEF troops also practiced how to conduct a raid on a hijacked oil tanker, which saw a helicopter land troops on the tanker, along with troops sneaking onboard by sea. The SEF troops trained how to deal with pirates, particularly if they were equipped with RPG weaponry, and how to regain control of the tanker and free hostages.
SEF troops also received training in methods of regaining control of a hijacked airplane, particularly as there has been a long history of terrorists hijacking airplanes since 1947.
SEF troops are well-trained in coping in different physical environments, and SEF troops demonstrated their skills in dealing with poisonous snakes, scorpions, and even crocodiles, in front of Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Naif and senior Interior Ministry figures.
Director of Public Security in Saudi Arabia, General Saeed Bin Abdullah al-Qahtani, described the SEF as being “a humanitarian force” adding that this force “deals with any injustice” citing its deployment during the Hajj pilgrimage as well as any emergency circumstances in the country.
In a speech given during the “Sawlet al-Haq” military training exercise, Al-Qahtani also stressed Saudi Arabia’s respect for the sovereignty of its neighbors, stressing that it would not interfere in their internal affairs, saying “we are not a country of enmity or intervention. We respect our neighbors…and do not interfere in their affairs, and we do not allow anybody to interfere in our [internal] affairs.”
SEF commander Brigadier General Khalid al-Harbi also gave a speech saying “security training is one of the most important strategic pillars being pursued by Saudi Arabia.” He added that “the decision-makers believe that quality of training and the implementation of the best and most up-to-date security training programs is linked to improving security performance.”
Brigadier General al-Harbi added “therefore this requires reading the situation and projecting future events before they happen.” He said “we have begun to do this, which has resulted in the traditional security training being replaced with more sophisticated and specialized training exercises” in a reference to the “Sawlet al-Haq” training exercises.