Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri
(Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)
Saudi Strategy against Terrorism:
Since Saudi Arabia has faced terrorism for decades, its counter-terrorism efforts, including domestic measures and international initiatives, are also decades old. However, given the intensity of terrorist activity against the Kingdom since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, the Saudi authorities have become more proactive in combating terrorism at the national and international level. But the fact remains that the Saudi fight against terrorism predates 11 September 2001. It was, therefore, quite unfortunate that, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came under the spotlight merely because a majority of the perpetrators happened to be Saudi citizens. In the United States in particular, and the Western world in general, a considerable amount of insinuating literature proliferated casting aspersions on the Kingdom, its leadership and society. In the course of the propaganda spree, the important fact that was altogether overlooked, deliberately or otherwise, was the gravity of concern and seriousness of practical steps that the Saudi leadership had respectively expressed and undertaken in response to the growing wave of international terrorism over the years, including the period prior to 11 September 2001.
Since concern was expressed, for instance, by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (then Crown prince), when he addressed the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 200. He said:
The phenomenon of terrorism is still widespread in all parts of the world, although fluctuating considerably, and still requires greater effort from our organization in order to contain and combat it. The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always denounced all forms and shapes of terrorism and added its efforts to those of the international community to address the serious phenomenon. What should be emphasized in this respect is that extremism, violence and terrorism are a global phenomenon, not restricted to any people, race or religion. In view of the internationalism and comprehensiveness of this phenomenon, addressing and combating it effectively can only come through agreed upon international action within the framework of the United Nations, that ensures the elimination of terrorism, conservation of innocent life, and preservation of the supremacy and stability of the State.1
( See official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, http://www.mofa.gov.sa/detail.asp?InServiceID=205&intemplatekey=MainPage, accessed on 15 May 2008