Counter-Terrorism: Suicidal Sons of the Desert


January 7, 2008: Saudi Arabia continues its aggressive and effective campaign against Islamic terrorism within the kingdom. Over 500 terrorist suspects were arrested during 2007, most of them just before their planned terrorist attacks could be carried out (thus making it possible to catch most members of each terrorist cell). While the Saudis put many suspected terrorists through re-education courses (which, surprisingly, often work) and set them loose, some 1,700 are still in custody.

The Saudis have come under a lot of criticism for not cracking down on Saudi Islamic radicals who leave the country to commit mayhem elsewhere. Iraq is a favorite destination. Nearly half of the al Qaeda foreign fighters in Iraq have been Saudi. Iraqi courts have already tried 160 Saudis on terrorism charges, and several hundred are sitting in Iraqi jails (while their families desperately, and sometimes successfully, try to get them out. A large enough bribe will often do it.) The Saudis point out that they can't restrict the foreign travels of their citizens without some firm proof that the kids are going off to blow themselves up in Iraq. Of course, the Saudis also realize that Iraq is an excellent way to deal with young men who are determined to die for the cause, and would rather not take some of their neighbors with them. The few al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia, although largely aimed at foreigners, managed to kill a lot of Saudis. That trashed most of the support al Qaeda had in the kingdom. Worse, it made more Saudis willing to inform on Islamic radicals. The tip lines have been ringing ever since, and al Qaeda operations consistently compromised.

However, with the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, violence minded Saudi religious fanatics will have to find somewhere else to play. Some Saudis have been showing up in Pakistan and North Africa, but not in the numbers that used to head off to Iraq. Either the lads lost heart, or are directing their murderous impulses towards their homeland.


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