Cooperation, not division, in the fight against terrorism
As the dust settles on the deplorable terrorist attacks that struck Brussels last week, Belgium, Europe and the international community continue to grieve for those who fell victim to such mindless barbarism. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shares in this grief; we mourn the loss of the 32 victims of terrorism in Brussels. Our thoughts are with their families and with over 300 innocent people recovering from injury. These heinous and cowardly acts are an affront on the peaceful religion they claim to represent. Their aim is to spread hatred, divide society and pit neighbours against each other. We must not allow this to happen.
On the contrary, now is the time for communities, societies and international actors to stand united in the face of this threat in order to put a stop to further mindless bloodshed. Through closer international cooperation and the promotion of intercultural dialogue, we must strive to rid our planet of this scourge that is devoted to sowing mistrust and fear.
Saudi Arabia has consistently made its position clear: we condemn terrorism in all its forms. These are not empty words. Actions are required to counter this very real threat. Saudi Arabia too has fallen victim to attacks that sought to destabilize the country and terrorize Saudi citizens. As such, the Kingdom has taken steps to combat extremism, regardless of the perpetrators’ motive, creed or nationality. Be it Al-Qaeda, Da’esh (ISIS) or state-sponsored radicalism, the international community must now pull together to combat terrorism, its funding and the extremist ideologies at its source.
The Saudi government in Riyadh has spared no effort or resources in the fight against terrorism. It detains suspected terrorists on its territory, tries them in court and imposes sanctions on those whose involvement in terrorist plots is proven. The implementation of stringent financial controls advocated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering and terrorist financing is stopping the flow of cash to terrorists. Moreover, fundraising at mosques and public places has been prohibited and international money transfers from Saudi charities have been stopped to ensure funds cannot enter the hands of extremists.
To address the problem of terrorism at its root, the Kingdom in 2005 launched a large-scale national campaign to raise public awareness of the risks of extremist ideology, which continues to this day. Through cooperation, European countries stand to benefit from the Saudi experiences of fighting extremism and radical thought. For instance, there is rich expertise to be tapped from the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counselling and Care Center which rehabilitates extremists and the Assakina Campaign for Dialogue, which works to correct misinterpretation of Islamic doctrines about violence, reject excess and promote moderation.
On the international stage, the Kingdom actively seeks to encourage dialogue between followers of different religions and cultures in order to promote harmony between them. The KAICIID Center for Dialogue in Vienna is an intergovernmental center of exchange which was set up by Saudi Arabia to promote justice, peace and reconciliation, and counteract the abuse of religion to justify violence. Furthermore, the center played a pivotal role in founding the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center with a contribution of $110 million that has strengthened the activities of Member States to confront the extremist ideology that feeds terrorism. It is in this same context that Saudi Arabia last year announced the formation of a military coalition of 35 Islamic states that is working alongside the United Nations to fight terrorism and extremism on the ground.
Saudi Arabia stands firmly against all violent extremist movements, regardless of confession or ideology. The Kingdom plays a leading role within the international coalition to combat terrorist groups, notably fighting against Da’esh (ISIS) in Syria and in the wider region. Saudi Arabia will continue to promote political stability in the region, and will continue to working alongside its international partners to restore long-lasting peace and security, and reduce the risk of further senseless brutality.
Abdulrahman Sulaiman Alahmed
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Head of the Saudi Mission to the European Union