Saudi Arabia's Initiative For Combating Terrorism

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Saudi Arabia's Initiative for Combating Terrorism

Saudi Arabia's Initiative for Combating Terrorism


Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries where the fight against terrorism and extremism has yielded real success. This success cannot be explained only by the effectiveness of its security measures, but also by its softer approach in tackling radical ideologies. 1 Although religious fanaticism and extremism are as old as human society itself, they have reached unprecedented levels in the kingdom in recent years, resulting in loss of life and damage to property.'

After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia embarked on a very aggressive counterterrorism campaign: arresting thousands of people, questioning thousands of suspects, dismantling alQaeda cells and killing or capturing their leaders, seizing large caches of arms, extraditing suspects from other countries, and establishing joint task forces with global partners, including the United States.

The Riyadh compound bombing in May 2003, however, created a turning point in Saudi Arabia's fight against extremism. 3 Following that attack,' the Saudi government realised that existing security measures were insufficient and recognised the essential role of radical ideology in motivating terrorists and justifying terror. The Saudi government recrafted its strategy to take on the radical ideologies that foster violent extremism. As a leader in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia is committed to demonstrating serious determination and responsible leadership in eliminating the mentality of extremism and violence that perverts the Islamic religion.'


Both the West and moderates throughout the Arab world and Islam face a very real struggle against Is1amist extremism and terrorism. This is a struggle we cannot win alone. It can only be won by moderate Arabs and Muslims, and such allies are essential to any victory in the war on terrorism.

Islamist extremist movements represent a small fraction of Arabs and Muslims. They can, however, feed on broad resentment of cultural change and the impact of globalism throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds. There is deep anger over the Arab-Israeli conflict, and against the United States because it is perceived as Israel's ally. The Iraq War has compounded this anger, and it has led to high levels of popular resentment of the United States by the population of many of our friends in the region.

These trends are reflected all too clearly in the work of one of the most respected polling organisations in the United States. The Pew group reported, "In the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, anger toward the United States remains pervasive. Osama bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages in Pakistan (65%), Jordan (55%) and Morocco (45%). Even in Turkey, where Bin Laden is highly unpopular, as many as 31 % say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners" are justifiable.

If we are careless in our efforts, seek to impose them or use threats, we will aid the extremists. We will reinforce the impression that is already all too common that we are "crusaders" and "occupiers," and that we use reform as a tool to create our own puppet regimes and are not sincere ...
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