Tag Archive | "terrorism"

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Three Saudis Convicted of Terrorism Offences Jailed

Posted on 20 April 2011 by hashimilion

Lebanon Military Court

 

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awwad Asiri said that he recently submitted an official letter to the President of the Court of Cassation in Beirut, Said Mirza, requesting the transfer of saudi nationals convicted of planning terrorist attacks in Lebanon.

Yesterday, the Military Court in Beirut sentenced 16 people convicted of terrorism offences, including 3 Saudis and a woman. The Saudi ambassador to Lebanon requested the transfer of the saudi prisoners back to their homeland because Saudi Arabia and Lebanon enjoy a special relationship, which would allow the prisoners to meet with their loved ones.

The Military Court also sentenced the Saudi national Muhammed Salih Al Suwaid and  Fahad Al Ghamis to one year in prison. The Court also sentenced in absentia the saudi national Abdul Rahman Al-Yahya to life imprisonment.

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Libya’s Only a Part of Mideast Equation

Posted on 18 April 2011 by hashimilion

What’s more important than Libya? At least four other countries.

The outcome of the unfinished revolution in Egypt will affect the prospects for democracy across the region. The outcome in Yemen, where Al Qaeda’s most dangerous branch is headquartered, is important to the struggle against terrorism. A change in Syria, Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world, would upend the balance of power on Israel’s northern borders.

And then there’s the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, where troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim countries have intervened to quell a Shiite Muslim uprising. It might seem odd to include a power struggle in a quasi-country of half a million citizens on a list of major strategic issues, but the crisis in Bahrain qualifies.

About two-thirds of Bahrainis are Shiite, but Sunni Muslims hold almost all the power. After Shiite groups staged increasingly violent demonstrations to demand more democracy, the government cracked down — and when the Bahraini police faltered, Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries stepped in with troops.

Opposition groups say more than 400 activists have been arrested; the Bahraini government has refused to disclose the number of arrests. Human Rights Watch has charged that at least seven detainees have died in custody and that some may have been tortured.

Last week, the government announced that it was outlawing the largest — and most moderate — Shiite political party, but then backpedaled after an international outcry.

Why does all this matter? Because Bahrain isn’t the only Arab state on the gulf with a sizable Shiite population. Iraq has a Shiite majority and a Shiite-dominated government. Saudi Arabia is ruled by Sunnis, but it has a significant Shiite minority in its oil-rich eastern province. In all three countries, Shiite Muslims have historically been treated as an oppressed underclass — but now, watching other Arabs win more rights, they’re demanding equality too.

Bahrain matters, as well, because Saudi Arabia treats it as a virtual protectorate. The Saudi royal family doesn’t like to see Shiite Muslim demonstrators demand the head of any monarch; it’s too close to home.

Besides, in the view of many Sunnis, Bahrain’s Shiite protesters look like puppets in the hands of Iran, the Shiite Muslim behemoth across the gulf that has long tried to assert itself as the region’s dominant power.

The fear among many U.S. officials, though, is that the Sunni-Shiite unrest in Bahrain could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the Bahraini government stops negotiating with the moderate Shiite opposition, it risks radicalizing its own population — and driving some of them into the arms of Iran. Another outcome could be a conflict between Sunni and Shiite that would cross several borders.

In a worst-case scenario, warned Charles Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a Sunni-Shiite split could prompt the pro-U.S. government in Iraq to ally itself with Iran, scrambling the basic foundation of U.S. security policy in the area, which aims to make Iraq a bulwark against Iran.

“The strategic stakes in Bahrain are higher than many outside the region appreciate,” Freeman said.

The Obama administration has been urging the Bahraini government to negotiate. Last week, the State Department’s top Middle East hand, Jeffrey Feltman, rushed to Bahrain to try to reopen talks between the government and the opposition.

But the administration has been notably gentle, because it wants the Bahraini royal family to stay in power and it doesn’t want to offend Saudi Arabia.

In a speech last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. “strongly condemned the abhorrent violence committed against peaceful protesters by the Syrian government.” But on Bahrain, she merely warned that “security alone cannot resolve the challenges.” (“We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t make sense,” she explained.)

Another official said the administration is promoting reform throughout the Arab world, but it’s also reassuring rulers in places such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that it won’t insist on immediate change. “It doesn’t have to come fast,” he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and national security advisor Tom Donilon visited Saudi Arabia this month to try to patch up the U.S. relationship with King Abdullah, who was furious when Obama backed the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Both U.S. and Saudi officials said the meetings helped repair the U.S.-Saudi alliance on issues such as Iran. But they said there was no sign of any Saudi moderation on the issue of Bahrain, which the Saudis consider their backyard.

The gulf has long been a central focus of U.S. foreign policy, both because it’s the source of much of the world’s oil and because it’s the frontier between the pro-American Arab monarchies and anti-American Iran.

That’s why the U.S. has a naval fleet there — headquartered, as it happens, in Bahrain.

Now Bahrain is at risk. Hard-liners have opted to use an iron fist, to see whether repression can restore stability; reform, they say, can come later. If they turn out to be wrong, the consequences could be dire.

By Doyle McManus

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Scenesetter For Special Representative Ambassador Holbrooke’s February 15-16 Visit To Riyadh

Posted on 06 February 2011 by hashimilion

SECRET SECTION 01 of 03 RIYADH 000182

NOFORN
SIPDIS

S/SRAP FOR AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE
DOHA FOR AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2020
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KTFN SA AF PK
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE AMBASSADOR
HOLBROOKE’S FEBRUARY 15-16 VISIT TO RIYADH

Ref: KABUL 500

RIYADH 00000182 001.2 of 003

Classified By: Ambassador James B. Smith for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

¶1. (C) Ambassador Holbrooke, Embassy Riyadh warmly welcomes
you to Saudi Arabia, which, by virtue of its historical and
cultural ties to Central Asia; personal relationships between
Saudi, Afghani and Pakistani leaders; financial power; and
leadership of the Muslim world, can play a central role in
implementing the President’s strategy for Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Your visit comes at a time of great potential but
great uncertainty: the Saudi-Afghan relationship appears to
be warming up, while the traditionally close Saudi-Pakistani
relationship has grown increasingly strained. The Saudis are
broadly supportive of our approach to Afghanistan and
Pakistan, but occasionally express skepticism about our
timing or our approach. Your visit provides an opportunity
to mine the Saudis’ wealth of experience in dealing with
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and extremism, and further explore
ways to translate our shared goals into action in the unique
Saudi context. We have requested meetings with xxxxxxxxxxxx.

¶2. (C) SAUDI-AFGHAN RELATIONS WARMING: President Karzai’s
February 2-3 visit to the Kingdom, although richer in
symbolism than substance, was a sign that lukewarm
Saudi-Afghan relations may finally be warming up. In his
official statement at the London Conference, FM Saud
announced a $150 million pledge of additional financial
support for Afghan reconstruction. He expressed broad Saudi
support for reconciliation, adding that they would be willing
to assist at the request of President Karzai– on the
condition that the Taliban sever its relationship with
Al-Qaeda and cease providing refuge to its leaders. While
not as forward leaning as we may have liked, FM Saud’s
statement put the Saudis on the record and created an
opportunity to put reconciliation talks back in
motion–eventually. Saudi participation at the Turkish-led
regional conference on Afghanistan on January 26 was further
evidence of the Saudi commitment to engagement. Karzai’s
visit showed that the King was ready to deal with Karzai as a
legitimate, Muslim head of state. However, the Saudis
continue to have concerns about Afghan corruption and believe
greater political incorporation of the Pashtun community is
essential. Their apparent wish to downplay Karzai’s
visit–as compared to the Afghans (reftel)–may also indicate
the King’s desire to keep some distance and maintain his
credibility as a potential reconciliation mediator.

¶3. (s/nf) but mediation not ready for prime time:
Privately, the Saudis tell us it’s still “too soon” to be
publicly discussing technical and financial aspects of
reintegration efforts. xxxxxxxxxxxx has made
clear that his marching orders are to work through
intelligence channels only until progress becomes
sustainable, at which point foreign ministries will be
brought in. In a recent meeting with the Ambassador, xxxxxxxxxxxx
hinted at but did not provide details about what
appears to be significant movement on the Saudi mediation
effort, with visits by high-level Taliban and Afghan
officials, since the Hajj. We surmise that xxxxxxxxxxxx is
reluctant to share information because the talks remain
delicate and he fears U.S. involvement could derail progress.
He has also voiced concern about how to address UNSCR 1267
prohibitions on dealing with various Taliban members.

¶4. (C) ZARDARI STILL THE PROBLEM IN PAKISTAN: The Saudis
generally agree that there is a need to deny terrorists
safehavens in Pakistan, but question whether the methods we
have outlined will be effective. Despite tense relations
with the Zardari government, close military and intelligence
cooperation continues between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The
Saudis believe opposition leader Nawaz Sharif can play a
“great role” in working with tribal chiefs and that “money is
better than bullets” in the fight against the Taliban. They
have started to fulfill their pledge from the Tokyo donor,s
conference (over half of the $700 million pledged has been
disbursed) and have expressed a willingness to continue with
financial support for a stable Pakistan. Saudi interlocutors
stress the importance of remembering that Pakistan remains

Riyadh 00000182 002.2 of 003

pre-occupied with issues on its Indian border, coloring its
ability to deal with the Taliban.

¶5. (C) IN THE ARMY WE TRUST: The tumultuous democratic
process in Pakistan makes the Saudis nervous, and they appear
to be looking for “another Musharraf”: a strong, forceful
leader they know they can trust. In his January meeting with
General Jones, the King cited President Zardari as an
impediment to denying terrorist safehavens, calling him an
“obstacle” and “a rotten head” that was infecting the whole
body. He maintained that the Pakistani Army was capable of
being a strong partner for the U.S., and opined that U.S.
development assistance would rebuild trust. He asserted that
that the Army was staying out of Pakistani politics in
deference to U.S. wishes, rather than doing what it “should.”
FM Saud told General Jones that we must reach out to tribal
leaders and separate “those we could work with” from “those
we must fight.” He believed that using the military to fight
extremists posed certain dangers, and that the credibility of
the army must be maintained. The Saudis were pushing
Pakistan’s civilian leaders to work together, but “compromise
seemed alien to Pakistani politicians.”

¶6. (C) TURKI’S TAKE: During a recent meeting with
Ambassador, former GIP Director Prince Turki Al-Faisal called
Afghanistan a “puzzle,” where establishing trust with Afghan
leaders, and recognizing the links between Pakistan and the
Taliban, were keys to success. All financial aid to the
Afghan government should be conditional: benchmarks must be
set for the leadership, and aid must be withheld until these
are met. Recent Saudi efforts to assist in Taliban mediation
had failed, he said, when “both sides fell short.” He
described the Taliban leadership as “fractured,” and
suggested the U.S. and NATO needed to target criminal
elements more vociferously and re-focus our attention on
capturing Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. He
suggested Saudi Arabia, the U.S., China, Russia, Afghanistan
and Pakistan could join forces and share assets in order to
capture or kill bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri. This would break
the terrorists’ “aura of invincibility” and allow the U.S. to
“declare victory” and move on.

¶7. (S/NF) TERRORISM FINANCE: Terrorist funding emanating
from Saudi Arabia remains a serious concern. Over the last
year, however, Saudi Arabia has made important progress in
combating al-Qaida financing emanating from the country.
Sensitive reporting indicates that al-Qaida’s ability to
raise funds has deteriorated substantially, and that it is
now in its weakest state since 9/11. The Kingdom is also
cooperating more actively than at any previous point to
respond to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United
States, and to investigate and detain financial facilitators
of concern. Nonetheless, sustained engagement is required to
maintain the current momentum, particularly in providing the
Saudis with specific details and actionable information.
Your visit provides another opportunity to welcome the
progress Saudi Arabia has made, and reiterate the importance
that President Obama and the USG place on curtailing
fundraising activity by global terrorist groups in Saudi
Arabia, particularly those that undermine the stability of
Afghanistan and Pakistan.

¶8. (S/NF) TERRORISM FINANCE, CONTINUED: While in the past
the KSA stood reluctant to pursue Saudi donors who backed
groups that did not directly threaten the Kingdom, the Saudi
Ministry of Interior (MOI) has now demonstrated willingness
to take action, and has begun to detain individuals involved
in funding networks for groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba
(LeT), the Taliban, and in some cases even Hamas. Our TF
cooperation with the MOI is of utmost strategic importance to
U.S. national security as donors in Saudi Arabia continue to
constitute a source of funding to Sunni extremist groups
worldwide. Available intelligence reflects that the Kingdom
remains an important fundraising locale-especially during the
Hajj and Ramadan-for the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist
groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The MOI remains
almost completely dependent on the CIA to provide analytic
support and direction for its counterterrorism operations. As
such, our success against terrorist financing in the Kingdom
remains directly tied to our ability to provide actionable
intelligence to our Saudi counterparts. In order to enhance
the USG’s ability to influence and direct Saudi efforts to

Riyadh 00000182 003.2 of 003

disrupt terrorist financing, in 2008 we stood up a Treasury
attach office in Embassy Riyadh. This office actively
contributes to the daily intelligence sharing process that
is led by CIA.

¶9. (S/NF) TERRORISM FINANCE, CONTINUED: Saudi Arabia has
taken increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qaida’s
access to funding from Saudi sources. An example of recent
progress by the KSA is the conviction of over 300 people for
involvement in terrorism, including some for providing
financial support. News reports suggest that appeals may be
opened to the media in order to enhance the deterrent effects
of such prosecutions. In addition, Assistant Interior
xxxxxxxxxxxx stated that
the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) deliberately timed its
August 19, 2009 press release regarding the arrest of 44
terrorist supporters to deter potential donors from giving
money to suspected terrorist groups during Ramadan. Although
a great deal of work remains to be done,xxxxxxxxxxxx
has given his commitment to work with the United States on
Taliban finance, and has said that the MOI will arrest
individuals involved in Saudi-based Taliban fundraising
activities – even if involved in the reconciliation process –
when provided with actionable intelligence.

¶10. (S/NF) IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES: The Saudis have
expressed broad support for the President’s strategy on
Afghanistan and Pakistan, but often balk when asked to
designate an SRAP to coordinate policy with the USG and
others. In part, this reflects the centralized Saudi
decision-making process and the reality that issues related
to Afghanistan and Pakistan policy are not delegated, but
rather dealt with directly by the King and members of the
intelligence community. While the Saudis are hesitant to
delegate authority and tend to make only broad-based
commitments to high-profile, multilateral initiatives, they
appear ready, willing and eager to share their experiences
with us and identify greater opportunities for cooperation on
a bilateral basis. Your visit provides an opportunity to
further explore how we can best translate our shared goals
into action in the unique Saudi context.

Smith
……………………..
Reference ID: 10RIYADH182
Created: 2010-02-12 12:12

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Saudi Ideology and the Inevitability of Violence

Posted on 01 February 2011 by hashimilion

The growth of Saudi religious ideology is an indicator of instability in a country. As the religious ideology increases, armed conflict between the various segments of society becomes a big possibility.

There are two main observations concerning Saudi Wahabi religious influence:

Firstly, the presence and growth of saudi ideology will ultimately result in instability and eventually result in armed civil conflict. Yemen and Pakistan are prime examples.

This is due to the fact that Wahabism is intolerant to differing views which exist inside and out side of Islam. Everyone is considered an infidel excluding their followers.

Historically, Wahabism was used as a tool by regimes in order to intimidate and crush their opponents.

In the past Saudi Arabia was able to control and manipulate Wahabism, but a Wahabi insurgency against the Royal family from 2002-2008  clearly shows that this movement is uncontrollable.

Wahabi group activity is mostly accompanied by social disorder and violence. There are so many examples, which illustrate this point. Take Algeria in the late 1970s, which saw an insurgency that killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The primary cause of, which was Saudi Arabia’s investment in and propagation of Wahabism.

Morocco, a country which enjoys  a friendly relationship with the Saudi kings has also witnessed an explosion of Salafi movements and new Al Qaeda cells pop up every now and again because of Saudi money. These movements have grown out of control and regularly make violent threats to the Government in Morroco..

In short, Wahabism causes social instability and violence in the Arab and Islamic world.

A close examination of history teaches us that Saudi political influence usually leads to civil wars. Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq obvious examples.

In those countries, Saudi Wahabi ideology was exported in order to strengthen saudi influence. When Saudi Arabia’s influence declines (as is the case right now) Wahabism is used in retribution and ultimately leading to chaos and destruction. Wahabism is used as a tool  of death and not as tool for political penetration.

Wahabism was used in Iraq in order to reinforce Saudi foreign policy, whose goal was to sabotage the political process and not to build political influence. This resulted in civil war breaking out in the country, coupled with sectarian cleansing of central Iraq.

Those that use Wahabism as a tool to fight their opponents ultimately became its victims.

Wahabism was also used in Lebanon, in Nahr Al Barid against Hizbollah in order to strengthen and reaffirm Saudi influence.

It was also used in Gaza, with the financial and military backing of both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  In the end, the Wahabis set up an Islamic State in Rafah!!! They took up arms against  Hamas and this ultimately lead to their downfall.

The Saudi Government continues to summon the Wahabis in other parts of the world, including Iran where it funds Jundullah as part of its regional conflict with Iran. Lets not forget Bandar Bin Sultan’s open threat to use Al Qaeda on Britian in February 2008, as the Guardian newspaper reported.

Secondly, many regimes are deluded into thinking that they can easily use Wahabism against their opponents. Part of Wahabism is subservient to authotarian regimes, regards them as legitimate rules and prohibits their attack, unless they openly commit kufr.

Yes, Wahabism is scary and attractive to those who have aspirations in using it, especially since its leaders can be easily deceived and manipulated into waging war, by using sectarianism to provoke the Wahabis.

Ali Abdullah Saleh frequently used this tactic. He unleashed the Wahabis and Al Qaeda on his opponents in the South and then unleashed them against his Zaidi opponents in the North. In the end Al Qaeda turned on him then it turned its attention to America. The Americans have regularly demanded that Ali Abdullah Saleh confront Al Qaeda, but this policy does not serve his interests. It also did not serve the interests of the rulers of Pakistan, when they violently confronted the extremist Wahabis in Waziristan and Swat Valley.

The same thing happened to the Sunni Arabs in Iraq, who are mostly followers of the Sunni Hanafi sect. They embraced Wahabism and Al Qaeda once they entered their country in order to strengthen their position after losing power. What happened next was a familiar story. The Wahabis waged war on everyone, the Americans, Shia, Kurds, Christians and their Sunni patrons, under the guise of the “Islamic State of Iraq”. The killing continues till this day.

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