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SAUDI ARABIA - May 22 - No Foreign Help in Catching Terror Suspects, Says Naif.

Interior Minister Prince Naif denies that Saudi Arabia seek the assistance of any foreign country when it rounded up 172 suspects involving seven terrorist cells in recent months. "The operations were 100 percent Saudi efforts", Prince Naif said of the arrests, which took place over a number of months and were announced to the public on April 27 by the Interior Ministry. Prince Naif also said that new confessions had been elicited from these suspects, the nature of which would be announced soon. The interior minister said that terrorism would continue in the Kingdom as long as people who harbor terrorists. He also assured the public that the men found guilty would be unambiguously punished. The prince made his comments on May 20 evening following a consultative meeting of the GCC interior ministers in Riyadh. The Interior Ministry said when it announced the arrests in April that the suspects had raised funds by tricking members of the public into investing in fake projects. Authorities said they seized SR20 million in cash from the suspects during security operations, along with weapons caches, computer equipment and fake documents. Investigators have said they aren't sure how much of this money was embezzled from unwary investors. Prince Naif said prosecutors are currently drawing up cases against the suspects to be presented in the courts. He denied that special courts had been established for trying terror suspects saying that they would be tried in the same Shariah courts under the umbrella of the Supreme Judicial Council as any other criminal suspects. The prince reiterated the government's call for deviants to surrender to authorities and denounce their acts. The government has said those who surrender would be dealt with less harshly than those that are caught by security officials. Regarding the five Kuwaiti nationals who were arrested recently selling audiotapes in Madinah, Prince Naif said they were released and sent back to Kuwait. "The charges against them were distributing Islamic tapes in an illegal way in addition to promoting their sales in ways contrary to the law", Prince Naif said. The Kuwaitis advertised the tapes from a sign in their car window. According to the Kuwaiti Embassy in Riyadh, the five men had been identified as four security officers and a civilian. Prince Naif said that the Kingdom was ready to implement any deal with neighboring Gulf countries regarding inter-GCC travel using national identity cards instead of passports. He noted that the deals earlier signed between the Kingdom and the UAE and Oman were effective. Speaking on the escalation of violence in Iraq, Prince Naif said that "foreign bodies outside of the Arab world" should be responsible for returning Iraq to what it was in the past. "Since there are large interferences from outside the Arab world, they should be the ones who should return Iraq to what it was before". He warned of the rise of terrorist incidents in Iraq and its drastic effects on the stability of the country. "Terrorism is growing in Iraq", he said. "Its soil has become a breeding ground for producing a generation of terrorists which learn and practice all sorts of killing and destruction". "Smuggling weapons and trespassing is on the rise", he said. "And the refugee situation is getting worse". Iran's nuclear crisis was another problem that burdened the region, he added. Prince Naif said that the instability of Iraq threatened the security of GCC countries. He noted that combating terrorism in the GCC states was not a responsibility of the governments alone.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:May 26, 2007
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