Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The recent visit by the Saudi fact-finding commission entrusted by the Saudi Human Rights Commission to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, has determined that 140 Saudi nationals are detained in those countries. Their crimes range from criminal cases to those related to terrorism.
Information divulged by Saudi nationals in the ranks of Fatah al Islam fighters in Lebanon to the members of the Saudi delegation revealed that Syrian and Iraqi groups and organizations supported them and pushed them to join the ranks of the [Fatah al Islam] movement to fight against the Lebanese army.
The official spokesman of the government’s Human Rights Commission, Dr. Zuhayr al Harithi, told Asharq al Awsat that fellow Saudi citizens who are implicated in the battles between Fatah al Islam elements and the Lebanese army were the victims of terrorist and smuggling “businesses”.
It became clear to the Saudi fact-finding commission that visited the Saudi detainees in Lebanon that they were sold to a Lebanese group at the price of $3,000 US per person. Al Harithi revealed that there are no more than 8 Saudi detainees in Lebanon, most of whom are under 20 years of age. They were recruited by Syrian and Iraqi groups to fight in the Nahr al Bared battles. However, it has become clear that one of the Saudis implicated has strong links with the al Qaeda organization according to the Lebanese authorities.
According to a statement issued by the [Saudi] government’s Human Rights Commission recently, the majority of the Saudis detained by the Lebanese authorities have been told that the situation in Nahr al Bared was a real basis for Jihad, but the confessions that were made to the Saudi fact-finding commission reflected its conviction that what is happening there is merely the settling of scores between warring sides. Al Harithi stressed that the comments made by the Saudis detained in Lebanon “confirm the fact that there are groups which finance, recruit and use Saudi youths in entrapment operations.”
The Lebanese authorities highlighted the possibility of handing over Saudi detainees who had not committed any crimes punishable by law to Saudi Arabia, while the authorities there stressed that the measures that aim to hand over the infiltrators will be finalized through coordination between the relevant parties in the two countries.
The government’s human rights delegation aimed to understand the conditions of Saudi prisoners in Lebanese and Jordanian prisons with regards to their numbers and cases, the sentences they received and whether they are benefiting from their legal rights.
Zuhayr al Harithi drew attention to the fact that the 25 bodies which allegedly belong to Saudi nationals was not in fact the case. Al Harithi told Asharq al Awsat that the [Human Rights] Commission delegation, which viewed the bodies, revealed that some of them had Lebanese and Iranian features. He said, “Perhaps two or three of them are Saudis. However, this matter can only be confirmed after DNA tests.”
A number of Saudi families whose sons are missing in Lebanon have rushed to view the bodies. The fact-finding commission, which met some Saudi families in Lebanon, stressed the need for carrying out DNA tests, the results of which should be handed over to the Saudi embassy in Beirut to carry out the identification process with the security services, considering the difficulty of identifying the bodies because of their disfigurement or severe burns.
Regarding the Saudi delegation’s visit to Jordan, the number of the Saudi detainees in Jordanian prisons is no more than 73 nationals, who are accused of involvement in criminal cases. The sentences given to Saudis detained in the Jordanian Sawaqah and Juwaydah prisons range between two and 15 years, while their ages range between 20 and 45-years-old. It is worth noting that the Saudi prisoner Fahd al Fuhayki received a royal pardon and had the death sentence against him reduced to life imprisonment.
The delegation cited al Fuhayki’s plea to the officials to transfer him to Saudi Arabia to carry out his sentence there. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, covered the costs of treatment for one Saudi prisoner in Jordan when he learnt that he was suffering from cancer. Coordination took place with the Saudi embassy in Amman to this effect, and the operation is due to take place shortly.
The delegation visited Syria last week to familiarize itself with the case of Saudi infiltrators who were arrested in Syria to ensure that they would be handed over to Saudi Arabia as soon as the preliminary investigations are completed.
Al Harithi stated that Saudi nationals, who tried to infiltrate Iraq and Lebanon via Syria, are not necessarily members of the al Qaeda organization. However, he added, “they may be influenced by al Qaeda’s radical thinking. They are not structurally related to it but they identify with it from an ideological point of view.” There are approximately 59 Saudi detainees in Syria, 29 of whom are implicated in criminal cases. The others were planning to infiltrate via Saudi territory.