Saudis do not kidnap and kill their enemies

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Okaz newspaper

SINCE the birth of modern Saudi Arabia in 1902, and despite the fact that the Saudis were through many unification battles and faced many rivals or opponents in between, there has never been a case of Saudis kidnapping and assassinating someone in the opposition.

A quick review of how Saudi Arabia had dealt with its citizens who deceived and betrayed the country will show how its leaders think and why do they always choose the peaceful option.

In the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Arab countries had become a haven for putschists and secret opposition cells that espoused nationalism, Ba’athism and communism. Like many other countries, Saudi Arabia too was affected.

There was never a day where blood didn’t spill in Baghdad, Damascus, Libya, Sana’a and Beirut. There were assassinations after assassinations. Opposition activists in Baghdad were publicly executed in front of the people. Muammar Gaddafi used to chase and kill Libyan citizens in European capitals, calling them “stray dogs”. The Syrian Socialist Ba’ath Party was specialized in dropping their opponents in tanks filled with acid. And Iran sent its Islamic Revolutionary Guards to kill members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization in Europe.

During that hard time in Arab history, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia found itself facing continuous instigation through the media from nationalist, Ba’athist and communist countries. These countries tried to encourage Saudi citizens to rebel against their government and sabotage their country, yet Saudi Arabia was avoiding bloodshed and desisted from using violent strategies when dealing with their opponents.

It reached a level where there was military intervention in some parts of the Kingdom. Reconnaissance planes were deployed to drop spying devices in other parts to be picked up and used by those involved in conspiracies against the country. Some plotters were captured and some were able to escape. The captured ones faced trial. Those who were tried and imprisoned were released upon serving their sentence or part of it. The most important thing through all that was that Saudi Arabia stayed merciful and humane in dealing with the fugitives. The rulers until this day stuck to the Qur’anic teaching, “And no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden.” (35:18).

There were many interesting stories that showed the humanitarian and merciful way Saudi Arabia dealt with those who brought harm to the country, especially citizens who fled abroad. I refrain from mentioning their names out of respect for their families.

In the late 1960s, one of the conspirators managed to escape to Egypt, which was the main country supporting Saudi opposition at that time. He established a very offensive radio program targeting Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. He continued that for years until the relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia improved. He then moved to Libya after the Gaddafi Revolution in 1969, trying to find an alternative home, but he couldn’t stay there longer. He then asked for the permission from King Faisal, who he was plotting to overthrow, to return to Saudi Arabia. King Faisal’s answer was, “This is his country and no one can prevent him from coming back.”

The man came back and lived a dignified life with his family. The amazing thing here is that one of his sons was went on to become a senior official in the government.

Another story happened in the 1970s. It related to a Saudi studying in London at his own expense. One day he met a Saudi official by chance and they had a very intense conversation. The student criticized his country and its policies. The official was very patient with him. A few days later, the student received a call from the Saudi Embassy welcoming him into the government’s scholarship program. A few weeks later, he received another call saying his wife and other family members were included in the program and would receive grants to support him financially. He later came back to Saudi Arabia and became the head of one of the most famous hospitals in the country.

When Juhaiman, a Saudi religious extremist and former army man, and his followers tried to capture the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 1979, King Fahd, who was crown prince at the time, was representing Saudi Arabia in the Arab League Summit in Tunisia. Then Iraqi President Saddam Husain suggested that Prince Fahd should decimate all family members of those terrorists as they do in Iraq. Of course, Prince Fahd did not do so. Only those who were involved in the attack faced trial and punishment. The sons of those who participated in that terrible incident later became respectable officers of the country.


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