Counter-Terrorism: Hurting Them In The Homeland


October 7, 2007: Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States are getting more serious about shutting down, or at least hurting, terrorist operations in their midst. Increasingly this year, senior Saudi clerics have been preaching vigorously against "foreign interests" that seduce young Saudis into becoming terrorists. Most of the suicide bombers identified in Iraq turn out to be from Saudi Arabia. The sermons now heard at major mosques and on television are aimed at parents of teenagers, parents who too often look the other way as their sons are persuaded by al Qaeda recruiters (often local clergy who have been radicalized) to go off and join the jihad in Iraq. Some of the parents then turn around and blame the government for letting this happen.

The smaller Gulf states, like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have cracked down on the smuggling of weapons, military equipment and cash to terrorists in the region, and worldwide. These coastal states have been freewheeling traders for centuries, so it was with some reluctance that the local governments moved against the groups who were supplying Islamic terrorist groups. There are a lot of people, a large minority of the total population in the Gulf, that backs Islamic terrorism, and is willing to at least give money. Keeping all this cash from reaching terrorists is impossible, but reducing the flow considerably is doable. The investigations into the terrorist fund raising is also uncovering corruption among the fund raisers. This is nothing new, as many captured al Qaeda documents mention problems with stealing and diverting organization assets for personal use. Giving this sort of thing publicity reduces the popular appeal of the radical groups.


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