London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal stressed the importance of an international approach to fighting terrorism in a keynote address at a counterterrorism conference in London. The two-day conference, titled “Transnational Terrorism: A Global Approach,” was organized by Britain’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in cooperation with the Saudi Embassy in London.
Because extremism is a global crime that does not differentiate among religion, creed or color, combating it requires international cooperation, Prince Saud said.
“In Saudi Arabia, we strongly believe that international cooperation is crucial for fighting terrorism,” he stated. “Bilateral and multilateral cooperation among security and intelligence services must be the backbone of efforts to combat terrorism. The sharing and exchanging of information is necessary to deter and prevent terrorist acts, and to stay ahead of our mutual enemy at all times.”
Saudi Arabia and its people are united in fighting terrorists, Prince Saud said. In the past three years, the Kingdom has endured more than 25 terrorist attacks that have resulted in the deaths of nearly 144 citizens, security personnel and foreign nationals, while injuring more than 500 people. Over 52 terrorist operations were foiled, 120 terrorists killed and 17 wounded, and more than 800 terrorist suspects have been arrested. Al Qaeda cells have been broken up, arms caches seized, and new financial regulations introduced to crack down on terrorist financing.
While Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism efforts have been extensive, an international effort is required because of terrorism’s global intent.
“Due to the unique position of Saudi Arabia in the Islamic World as the cradle of Islam, we have a moral responsibility to defend our religion against those who would subvert and usurp it,” Prince Saud said. “We have accomplished a great deal. But, in spite of those gains, our national efforts alone are not enough. International cooperation is a must.”
As part of that international cooperation, the prince called for extremists who condone, support, incite or legitimize terrorism to be held accountable for their criminal actions, and for people who abuse the Internet and other means of communication in order to incite terrorism to be punished.
Combating terrorism also requires preventing terrorists from exploiting legitimate causes and desperate conditions in order to foster hatred and recruit followers, Prince Saud said. An example is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is breeding anger and has an enormous potential for encouraging violence. The conflict must be addressed and justly resolved in the interests of a peaceful world, he warned.
Prince Saud also said that nations must not allow cultural or religious misunderstandings to get in the way of combating terrorism. “We face a common threat that goes far beyond today’s terrorist leaders and terrorist organizations. We can defeat that threat, but only if we unite, and create new bonds of understanding between our different religions and cultures,” Prince Saud said.
“The world is in the midst of a hard, tough, and long fight. In the process of conducting it, we should not allow fear to drive us into isolation, or close the door on the human-to-human contact that is so essential for understanding and interchange between cultures,” he concluded.