Bridge for sale! With Saudi jihadists now making up almost half of the foreign fighters in Iraq, the Saudis are touting their anti-jihad campaign. This man asked two questions: Was the jihad for which he traveled to Iraq religiously sanctioned? And were the edicts inciting such action correct in saying the militants should not inform their parents or government of their intentions? He got negative answers, and according to this story, that was it. The jihad imperative in general is unquestioned — Iraq is just the wrong place, wrong time.
This might be a temporary fix, but it ultimately won’t be even close to enough.
By Donna Abu-Nasr for Associated Press (thanks to all who sent this in):
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – The last time Ahmed al-Shayea was in the news, he was in the hospital at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, being treated for severe burns from the truck bomb he had driven into the Iraqi capital on Christmas Day, 2004.
Today, he says, he has changed his mind about waging jihad, or holy war, and wants other young Muslims to know it. He wants them to see his disfigured face and fingerless hands, to hear how he was tricked into driving the truck on a fatal mission, to believe his contrition over having put his family through the agony of believing he was dead.
At 22, the new Ahmed Al-Shayea is the product of a concerted Saudi government effort to counter the ideology that nurtured the 9/11 hijackers and that has lured Saudis in droves to the Iraq insurgency. The deprogramming, similar to efforts carried out in Egypt and Yemen, is built on reason, enticements and lengthy talks with psychiatrists, Muslim clerics and sociologists.
Al-Shayea says his change of heart began when he was visited by a cleric at al-Ha’ir Prison in Riyadh following his repatriation from Iraq.
He says he put two questions to the cleric: Was the jihad for which he traveled to Iraq religiously sanctioned? And were the edicts inciting such action correct in saying the militants should not inform their parents or government of their intentions?
No and no, came the reply.
“I realized that all along I was wrong,” al-Shayea told The Associated Press in a two-hour interview at a Riyadh hotel before returning to an Interior Ministry compound that serves as a sort of halfway house for ex-jihadists rejoining Saudi society.
“There is no jihad. We are just instruments of death,” he said.
At the time he was first approached to join the insurgency, al-Shayea was already becoming a devout Muslim in his ultraconservative town of Buraida. He grew a beard, prayed five times a day and stopped listening to Arabic love songs he used to enjoy. He was 19 and jobless.
Then he was contacted by a school friend whom he doesn’t identify.
“My friend started telling me about Iraq, how Muslims are getting killed there and how we should go there for jihad,” said al-Shayea. “He told me there were fatwas (edicts) and DVDs issued by Saudi and Iraqi clergymen that called for jihad.”
“We didn’t think of jihad as something that would lead to our death. It was a fight against occupiers,” said al-Shayea….