Pray4Saudi: Jail for Saudi Jihadists
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz decreed last month that citizens found guilty of fighting in conflicts outside of Saudi Arabia would be imprisoned for between three and 20 years.
Members of extremist religious groups and anyone found guilty of providing “financial or moral support” for terrorist groups will also be subject to heavy punishment.
The decree was issued a day after a new counterterrorism law took effect in the country.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry estimates that around 1,200 Saudis are fighting in Syria, and there is concern that the fighters will return home to target the ruling Al Saud royal family - as happened after earlier wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to Al Arabiyah News, there has been a growing campaign in Saudi Arabia against young Saudis joining the civil war in Syria. The Saudi government itself supports the moderate rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) with weapons and aid, but has largely opposed radical and extremist rebel groups.
Saudi Arabia’s ministries of interior, foreign affairs and justice have set up a joint committee to prepare a list of extremist groups they will carefully monitor. This includes Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah, both of which Saudi Arabia views as dangerous.
According to Reuters, Riyadh fears that the Brotherhood, which embraces a conservative Sunni doctrine that challenges the Saudi principle of dynastic rule, has tried to garner support inside Saudi Arabia since its rise to power in Egypt.
When Muslim Brotherhood followers protested against Egypt's military-backed government last summer after President Mohamed Mursi was overthrown, Saudi Arabia labelled the unrest as "terrorism" and sedition.
Over the last ten years, Saudi Arabia imprisoned thousands of people found guilty of working with al Qaeda. This followed attacks by the Sunni Islamist militant group inside Saudi that killed hundreds between 2003 and 2006.
Saudi human rights activist Walid Abu al-Khair told Reuters the law was intended to "combat peaceful demands" and “strangle freedom of expression.”
Pray for only good to come out of the introduction of this new law. Pray for young Saudis to be drawn to the Prince of Peace rather than jihadism (The Bible, Isaiah 9:6).
Pray for social media to be a catalyst for greater religious freedom (The Bible, Romans 8:2).
Pray for talks between King Abdullah and President Obama in March that freedom for Christians and human rights will feature on the agenda (The Bible, Galatians 5:1).
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 edition of the 10/40 Window Reporter.
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