Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Saudi Interior Ministry has revealed new information about the 19 Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist cells dismantled by the Saudi authorities since the beginning of 2010, resulting in the arrest of 149 terrorist suspects. Riyadh previously revealed that 124 of the 149 terrorist suspects arrested by the Saudi security forces are Saudi citizens, although at least three of the 19 cells were led by non-Saudi nationals. The Saudi Interior Ministry has today, and for the first time, revealed some background information about the 124 Saudi Arabian terrorist suspects to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki informed Asharq Al-Awsat that 75 percent of the 124 Saudi terrorist suspects arrested are under the age of thirty, and that 85 percent of them have no education beyond high school. Major General al-Turki also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the literacy rate of the 124 arrested Saudi nationals stands at above 85 percent; with 45 percent having attained a high school diploma, whilst 40 percent did not complete their secondary school education.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General al-Turki was speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of a lecture that he was delivering to the King Saud University in Riyadh on the methods of recruitment and radicalization employed by Al Qaeda, as part of the university’s Scientific Conference.
The lecture given by Major General al-Turki was entitled “The Deviant Group: Their Methodology of Recruitment.” In this lecture, al-Turki spoke about how some young people’s misconception of the nature of Islam and lack of understanding about jihad can be exploited by extremist groups to recruit new members.
In his lecture, Major General Mansour al-Turki, told the students that “we must be aware of the relationship between extremist ideology and terrorism. It is an interesting relationship, with each aspect [extremism and terrorist] influencing and reinforcing the other. This all depends upon the surrounding circumstances. You may argue that extremist ideology produces the motivation to perform a terrorist act, yet that same act may be the motivation to produce an extremist ideology, [in order] to justify committing such a crime to themselves and to others. Extremist ideology cannot be considered the sole reason behind terrorism.”
Major General al-Turki also said that one of the most prominent ways that Muslim individuals fall prey to the influences of extremist ideology and such groups is because they have a void in their lives which they wish to fill. He stressed that this void or lack of direction is the fundamental character trait that permits youth to fall prey to extremist ideology.
The Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman also said that commitment to one’s religion also plays a part in this. He said “over-commitment to religion leads to fanaticism and people viewing the world in a way that is devoid of logic and compassion. It makes no sense at all that the actions of a suicide bomber should lead to the deaths of innocent children; men and women. This has nothing to do with Islam…it gives the international community a bad impression of Islam and Muslim youth.”
Al-Turki added “We, as parents and teachers, must be involved in the education of our sons and daughters, and ensure that they have the correct understanding of the concept of Jihad in Islamic, and that Islam forbids suicide…we must not leave the door open to others who exploit the enthusiasm of youth to support Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and others, who provide the youth with the wrong definition of Jihad.”
Major General Mansour al-Turki stressed the importance of spreading the meaning of moderation in religious observance amongst young people, as the Prophet said “be moderate in your religions deeds and do what is within your ability.”