This is a demonstration of how effective the much-ballyhooed Saudi deprogramming of jihadists really is. Supposedly the Saudis show the jihadists how they’re misunderstanding Islam — yet Khalid al-Suwid is not the first recidivist to return to misunderstanding the Religion of Peace even after having been shown the Straight Path.
“Saudis Try to Quell Jihadists,” by Ellen Knickmeyer in the Wall Street Journal, May 3 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia””After spending two years in Saudi prison for fighting in Iraq, Khalid al-Suwid graduated in 2012, a free man, from the kingdom’s well-regarded rehabilitation program for religious extremists, Saudi officials said. Mr. Suwid was a government-certified ex-jihadist.
Mr. Suwid turned up again in a photo released in mid-March, smiling, holding an assault rifle and wearing what appeared to be a bomb vest. It was a so-called martyrdom notice, announcing his death in Syria.
Mr. Suwid “killed a large number of Christians before his acceptance by God,” said the notice, which appeared on a Facebook FB -2.27% page”””Foreigners in theSyrian [sic] Revolution–”that anonymously records and lauds foreigners killed fighting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
The battle by Syria’s Sunni majority against the Shiite-linked Assad regime has drawn more men from Saudi Arabia to Syria than any country except Libya and Tunisia, said analyst Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute, a think tank.
But for Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, Syria’s pull to jihad is creating tensions and risks linked to its recent past.
During the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later in Bosnia, Chechnya and other conflicts, Saudi Arabia encouraged jihad to promote the kingdom’s legitimacy as a champion of Muslims world-wide. Some analysts said it also was aimed deflecting internal tensions at home.
That began to change by 2003, after Saudi members of al Qaeda returned home from foreign wars to launch a bloody campaign against the Saudi monarchy, which the jihadists saw as beholden to the West.
Within several years, the monarchy’s security forces had crushed the insurgency. Now the Syria conflict is exposing rifts and contradictions within the kingdom over its tradition of aiding beleaguered foreign Muslims.
“There are tensions”¦between some elite decision makers over how best to deal with the Syrian issue,” said Michael Stephens, a regional researcher at the British Royal United Services Institute think tank in Qatar. “It is clear some princes favor an activist approach that involves increased support for Islamist groups in Syria, while other princes remain concerned over the”¦undermining of Saudi’s internal security.”
Syrian rebels and Arab officials say Saudi Arabia has shipped arms and aid to the Syrian opposition, though the Saudi government hasn’t confirmed or denied such reports.
But top Saudi government officials and religious leaders are ordering its citizens to stay home, telling them instead to send money and prayers to Syria’s rebels.
“Involvement in the Syrian conflict is against Saudi laws,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki told reporters in Riyadh in late March. Saudis will be arrested whether they are caught coming or going from fighting in Syria, he said.
But some Saudis say the government’s message is mixed. “Sometimes the government says not to go fight, and acts on it,” said Abdulrahman al-Talq, a resident of the religiously conservative central Saudi city of Buraidah. Other times, he said, the message is muddled.
Mr. Talq said his son traveled to Syria last year following the young man’s arrest for taking part in a demonstration. A local judge had suspended the son’s sentence then encouraged him to go to Syria, Mr. Talq said. The father said his son died there in December.
Buraidah has a reputation of sending its sons off for jihad to countries including Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. When local men go to Friday sermons these days, though, they hear conflicting messages from the clerics.
“Some say, ‘Help the Sunni, and Syria, and destroy the Shias,’ ” said Fawzan al-Harbi, a Buraidah native.
In other mosques, Mr. Harbi said, he hears Buraidah’s imans counsel Saudis to let Syrians fight among themselves….