Saudis combat terrorism with unity

The following article is based on a series of reports by Al Arabiya News Channel on terrorism in Saudi Arabia.

Shounaz Meky
Shounaz Meky
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During the past 15 years, Saudi Arabia had been at the forefront of countries battling and countering terrorism, which threatens its stability and spreads sectarianism among its people.

The kingdom’s authorities have so far succeeded in thwarting more than 300 terror attempts across the country.

In the wake of two recent attacks that targeted two mosques in the kingdom, a new series on Al Arabiya News Channel takes a look at the history of terrorism in Saudi Arabia.

Both bombings - which were carried out on May 22 and May 29 in eastern Saudi Arabia and killed at least 25 people - were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

A long time before ISIS emerged on the scene, Al Qaeda had similar goals: to destabilize Saudi Arabia and to destroy national unity, the Al Arabiya report suggests.

The report discusses how Saudi Arabia has witnessed 88 terrorist operations in several cities, where more than 250 people were killed and about 500 injured.

The period between 2007 and 2009 is believed to be the calmest, as it witnessed three terrorist operations only, the report added.

Despite differences in structures, political goals and tactics, ISIS has followed in the footsteps of Al Qaeda, targeting anyone opposing them, explained Waheed Hamzah Hashem, an associate political science professor at the King Abdulaziz University.

Hashem told Al Arabiya News that the ideology of both ISIS and Al Qaeda considers anyone in disagreement with them an enemy.

“Anyone with a different opinion or ideology is labeled as a rival to Islam and Muslims. If you’re not of them, you’re an enemy to them,” he said.

While many reputable Sunni Muslim bodies condemn the practices of such extremist groups, Hashem said these militants have sympathizers, supporters and “godfathers” who justify and allow their acts by manipulating religious texts.

Such groups, he said, always flourish in environments suffering from poverty, unemployment and corruption.

“When they bomb a mosque or a school, they regard the victims as enemies to God, regardless if they were Sunnis or Shiites,” he noted.

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