Thursday, April 27, 2006

Saudi Arabia - "counter-radicalisation" program

Here's another tactic that might be used in the war on terror.

Seeking to fight Islamic extremism with Islamic theologians, the Saudi authorities say they successfully re-educated some 400 out of 700 extremists and released them from prison.

The Islamic "counselling" programme is part of what British experts regard as Saudi Arabia's "model counter-terrorism campaign".

Senior officials, including the MI5 chief, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, have visited the kingdom to devise a similar "counter-radicalisation" strategy for Britain.

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries where the fight against terrorism has yielded real success with a softer approach.

We certainly need to do all we can to fight terrorism but simply relying on "a softer approach" isn't the answer as the Saudis well know.

Saudi security forces say they have killed or captured 25 out of 26 people on their original 2003 list of "most wanted" terrorists, including successive local leaders of al-Qa'eda.

Similarly, only four people on a follow-up list of 36 wanted militants are believed to be still at large in the kingdom. The rest have been killed, captured or fled, mainly to Iraq.

"Every day their numbers and capability and resources are less and less," said Gen Mansour al-Turki, spokesman for the Saudi ministry of interior, "We feel that terrorism in Saudi Arabia has been degraded.

"We are helped by the fact that our response to attacks is very fast. Every cell that carries out a terrorist attack does not get to plan another."

It's clear you need both a hard and soft approach.

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