RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, (AFP) — A Saudi ex-Guantanamo detainee has urged Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen to renounce violence, saying they are tools of intelligence services of unnamed regional countries, Saudi media reported on Wednesday.
“I have seen things which others present now in Yemen have not seen,” former militant Mohammed al-Awfi told Saudi television Tuesday, according to a transcript on the Sabq.org news website.
“I have found there are those who … use the mujahid (holy fighter) as a political tool. We are, without doubt, targetted by countries in the region,” said Awfi.
Awfi, who turned himself over to Saudi authorities after first fleeing to Yemen to join Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), urged Al-Qaeda militants to “return to the right track.”
He said some intelligence services in the region shove Saudi youth to the front line of armed activities with the aim of sending political messages to Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi youths are used by regional countries” to serve those countries’ “political interests.”
He did not specify which countries he is referring to.
Awfi said Al-Qaeda militants are taken to isolated areas where they are given orders to carry out suicide attacks.
“The intelligence leads them and I have seem this myself,” Awfi added.
Awfi was detained in Afghanistan following the 2001 US invasion, and held in Guantanamo until 2007 when he was handed over to the Saudi government.
But after passing through the Saudi rehabilitation programme, he fled the country and joined Yemen-based AQAP.
He is one of 13 Guantanamo returnees who Saudi authorities say returned to militant activities after completing rehabilitation. A total of 123 Saudis have returned from Guantanamo.
He lives with the support and supervision of the Saudi interior ministry.