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Saudi Arabia detains 43 suspected militants

The recent arrests and killings of more than 40 militants in Saudi Arabia is continuing testament of the capabilities of the Saudi security forces, who have hunted, pursued, killed, and captured militants in the Kingdom with such a dogged persistence that the once fearsome al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been unable to pull off a major attack in almost two years. At the same time, the repetitive emergence of new militants in the country shows that Saudi Arabia still has much reform to do of its educational, cultural, and religious environment. The existence of more than 40 people in the Kingdom who were planning terrorist attacks also demonstrates that the country is still very much at risk of another terrorist attack. In addition to the militants themselves, Saudi security secured weapons, documents, and money being prepared to carry out an attack. The presence of foreigners in these militant networks in Saudi Arabia demonstrates the extent to which the Kingdom is seen as a legitimate target of the international Jihad, not just a target for local dissidents. The absorption of foreigners into militant networks is dangerous for Saudi Arabia, as foreigners are more difficult to identify and intercept in terror networks in other countries. The vast traffic of Muslim foreigners into Saudi Arabia, not only during the pilgrimage season but for jobs that Saudi citizens refuse to work, makes the population difficult to police, and their ill treatment by the Saudi government can fuel tendencies toward militancy and the desire for revenge. Also notable of those arrested in this recent campaign is that they have not been characterized as part of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula organization. They seem to have been examples of distinct, spontaneously emerging terrorist cells that were not recruited by the existing, prevailing terrorist organization in the Kingdom. While the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula organization is thought to have been severely weakened by the campaign against it, the emergence of new, separate terrorist groups or cells demonstrates that Saudi Arabia will continue to suffer from terrorist threats even if the al-Qaeda organization within the Kingdom is eradicated. A parallel of this dynamic has occurred recently with the media wing of the Mujahideen in Saudi Arabia. The “Sawt al-Jihad” media arm of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has nearly ceased all production, but recently a new media company, called “al-Bisha’ir,” has announced its existence and put out its first two productions. Al-Bisha’ir has announced that it is not part of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but is concerned with the plight of the Mujahideen in the Kingdom generally.

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