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In a briefing today on Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism efforts, the Ministry of Interior’s security spokesman, Major General Mansour Al-Turki said the Kingdom has been a major target of terrorist organizations, but is determined to defeat it and prevent terrorists from using any resources from Saudi Arabia.

 

“We have faced more than 63 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda and ISIL, 26 of them just in the last two years,” said Gen. Al-Turki. “More than 200 citizens and policemen were killed in terrorist attacks. More than 2,800 suspects have been arrested since 2015.”

 

In order to crush terrorism and cut off terror financing, Gen. Al-Turki said the Kingdom has enforced laws to criminalize all terrorist-related activities, including joining, supporting, or recruiting for extremist groups. Saudi Arabia has taken major actions to prevent radicalization and recruiting, and has provided citizens with a phone number to report any suspected terror-related activities.

 

The Kingdom has established a money intelligence department to monitor and investigate any suspected financial transactions. Investigations are typically done in coordination with the Saudi Monetary Agency and the Saudi banks. The Intelligence Security Department within the Ministry of Interior coordinates investigations in order to monitor any abnormal transactions going through bank accounts, and will then freeze the account.

 

“This has led to convicting more than 226 persons of terrorism financing activities, prosecuting more than 240 suspects, freezing and investigating more than 117 suspected bank accounts, closing all unlicensed charity collection locations,” said Gen. Al-Turki.

 

“We have contributed to international community efforts to combat terrorism and its finance through exchanging information,” he said, and said that some of that information had played a major role in “saving lives in other countries.”

 

Gen. Al-Turki also noted that the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid is responsible for any external charitable contributions from Saudi Arabia or Saudi citizens.

 

Saudi Arabia co-chairs the Counter ISIL Finance Group, along with the U.S. and Italy.  The CIFG was established in 2015 to disrupt ISIL’s sources of revenue and its ability to move and use funds to wage its campaign of terror.

EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said on Tuesday 25 May that the EU is stepping up its anti-terrorism cooperation with the Arab world and praised the anti-radicalisation programmes in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries such as Saudi Arabia.

During a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s committees on Foreign Affairs and Development, Mr De Kerchove, the EU’s top anti-terror official, explained that more and more countries in the Middle East and North Africa want to engage with the EU in counter-terrorism and deradicalisation programmes.

During the debate , the chair of the Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, Michèle Alliot-Marie asked whether Mr De Kerchove planned exchanges with Gulf countries on the matter given their track record in deradicalisation and their position in the region and religion?”

They have an impressive success rate. We can draw inspiration from their experiences. We want to and do cooperate with Saudi Arabia on many fronts.

In response De Kerchove said “We have much to learn,” and noted that he has visited the Saudi deradicalisation centre in Riyadh. “They have an impressive success rate. We can draw inspiration from their experiences. We want to and do cooperate with Saudi Arabia on many fronts. However, Europe has to define its own model,” he added. “Let us explore with our partner countries in the Arab world how together we can connect our thoughts in the fight against this perversion of Islam and Daesh.”

To address the problem of terrorism at its root, Saudi Arabia 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.