How did this Saudi student abroad become an ISIS suicide belt-maker

Sayari's name surfaced after the attack on a Saudi mosque in August 2015

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How did Tayea Salem Yaslam al-Sayari go from being a former engineering scholarship student, to become a terrorist fighting in Syria and later one of the most dangerous ISIS members in Saudi Arabia?

Many have tried to study characters like al-Sayari and examine how they go from having a promising future as a student to becoming an expert in making explosive material and training future suicide bombers.


READ ALSO: The Saudi mosques targeted by ISIS’s ‘suicide bomb expert’

How was he able to return to Saudi Arabia?

Sayari, in his 30s, who failed his studies in engineering in New Zealand, went straight to Syria in 2014 to join the fighting. He then left Syria and headed to Turkey and then on to Sudan using a fake passport. While in Sudan, he met with Oqab al-Otaibi, one of the most wanted men who was recently killed in Saudi. From Sudan, he headed to Yemen and then entered Saudi illegally.

Tayea al-Sayari’s name first surfaced when Saudi authorities investigated the attack on a mosque used by the Special Emergency Force in Asir in August 2015. The suicide bombing in the mosque claimed by ISIS killed 15 force employees and recruits.

Criminal psychology expert Doctor Nasser al-Arifi said Sayari’s character reflected the case of a “stupid” man and noted that his ability to make explosive belts did not mean he was smart. Instead Arifi said it showed Sayari had a “docile personality” who lacked the motivation to be positively “productive” in society.

He added that Sayari’s insufficient intelligence made him think that taking the path into terrorism meant satisfying his desires to be a “leader” in his subconscious mind.

Arifi said Sayari’s aggressive tendency to avenge society was due to emotional coldness, adding that this implied a “psychopathic tendency” which meant the person suffered from abnormal social behavior and broke conventional laws and ethics.

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