Bisha terrorist is a mine of information

Oqab Al-Otaibi with beard, left, and clean shaven, right. (SPA)
Updated 05 May 2016
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Bisha terrorist is a mine of information

ABHA: Security, strategic and military expert retired Col. Ibrahim Al-Mari has described the arrest of Oqab Al-Otaibi and the killing of his companions as a strategic achievement for the Ministry of Interior and a heavy blow to elements of the Daesh terrorist group in Bisha governorate.
Al-Otaibi is accused of participating in a previous terrorist operation that targeted emergency forces at a mosque in Asir. Al-Mari said that this arrest has thwarted a criminal plot he was working on.
He added that this achievement should come as no great surprise since the Kingdom’s security apparatus is among the best in the world, and many countries in the region and the world seek its assistance in matters related to terrorism.
He said that Al-Otaibi’s arrest will provide a lot of information for security forces who are trying to bust extremist cells in the Kingdom. While these groups try not to link cells together, there will be information that will help provide security forces with pre-emptive abilities to pursue terrorist cells and recognize their methods of communication.
He said that technology currently being used can reveal the hiding places of terrorists. The security forces have found that some terrorists seek refugee in remote and mountainous areas thinking that they aren’t being monitored by the police.
Pictures of Al-Otaibi vary across media sources; sometimes he appears with a thick beard and hair and at other times he is seen clean-shaven. However, security forces factor in all changes of appearance and can recognize terrorists no matter how much they try to change their looks, he added.
Prior to carrying out his attack, Al-Otaibi chose not to detonate the explosives on his person as his nerves failed, so he turned himself in.
Iraq and Syria have become key places for extremist groups with more than 36 extremist and armed groups in total. It has therefore become necessary to solve the Syrian crisis and reinstate stability and security to these countries to eliminate terrorist organizations, Al-Mari said.
He said that Daesh will be eliminated when the Syrian crisis is solved, adding that it will not transfer its capital to Yemen because the allied operations in Al-Mukalla have made sure that no attempts will be made to find a safe haven in Yemen.
He pointed out that the Asir cell is collapsing with its members being arrested one by one.
Oqab Al-Otaibi has an intermediate school certificate, and left the Kingdom to go to Kuwait, Turkey, and thence Syria. He returned to the Kingdom and settled in Darma and got involved with Sweilim Al-Rowieli in the shooting incident in Al-Dalwa mosque and the bombing of the emergency forces mosque in Asir.
He received his training in terrorist operations while outside the Kingdom and upon his return, he played the role of mediator between Daesh leaders in Syria and other cells in the Kingdom.


How ‘Absher’ app liberates Saudis from government bureaucracy

The Absher website also provides information on how to report wanted persons, or administrative or financial corruption. (Supplied)
Updated 17 February 2019
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How ‘Absher’ app liberates Saudis from government bureaucracy

  • Western media mistaken in portraying app as a tool of repression, leading female journalist says

JEDDAH: Absher, the “one-click” e-services app launched by the Interior Ministry in 2015, is now regarded as the leading government platform for Saudi citizens, freeing them from bureaucratic inefficiency and endless queuing for everyday services.
However, in a recent New York Times article, the app was criticized as a “tool of repression” following claims by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and women’s rights groups.
Apple and Google were urged to remove the application from their devices over claims that it “enables abhorrent surveillance and control of women.”
In an official statement, the ministry rejected the allegations and said the Absher platform centralized more than 160 different services for all members of society, including women, the elderly and people with special needs.
The app makes electronic government services available for beneficiaries to access directly at any time and from any place in the Kingdom, the ministry said.
Absher allows residents of the Kingdom to make appointments, renew IDs, passports, driver’s licenses, car registration and other services with one click.
Many Saudis still recall having to queue at government agencies, such as passport control offices and civil affairs departments, for a variety of official procedures. Appointments could take weeks to arrange, with people relying on their green files, or “malaf allagi” — the 1980s and 1990s paper form of Absher that was known as the citizen’s “lifeline,” both figuratively and literally.
Hours would be spent as government departments ferried files back and forth, and if a form was lost, the whole transaction process would have to start again. As complicated as it was for men, women suffered more.
Muna Abu Sulayman, an award-winning strategy adviser and media personality, told Arab News the introduction of Absher had helped strengthen women’s rights.
Sulayman said she was disappointed at comments on the e-services platform being made abroad. “There are consequences that people don’t understand. It’s a very idealistic and naive way of understanding what is going on,” she said.
“The discussion on the guardianship law is internal and ongoing — it is something that has to be decided by our society and not as a result of outside pressure. We’re making strides toward equality and Absher is a step in the right direction,” she said.
“In a Twitter survey, I asked how many women have access to their guardian’s Absher. Most answered that they control their own fate. Men who don’t believe in controlling women gave them access to their Absher and that shows an increase in the participation of women in their own decision-making.”
Absher also provides services such as e-forms, dealing with Hajj eligibility, passport control, civil affairs, public services, traffic control, and medical appointments at government hospitals.
The platform is available to all men and women, and removes much of the bureaucracy and time wasting associated with nonautomated administrative systems.
On the issue of granting women travel permits, the law requires a male guardian to grant it through the portal, as well as for men under the age of 21.
Retired King Abdullah University professor Dr. Zainab M. Zain told Arab News: “I always had issues with my passport renewal as well as my children’s as they are both non-Saudi. For years it was risky not to follow up properly at passport control — you never knew what could happen, but now I can renew their permits by paying their fees online through Absher from the comfort of my home in Abu Dhabi.”
Ehsanul Haque, a Pakistani engineer who has lived in the Kingdom for more than 30 years, said: “Absher has helped tremendously with requests, such as exit and entry visas for my family and myself. I can receive approval within an hour whereas once it would’ve taken me days,” he said.
“The platform has eased many of my troubles.”
The Absher website also provides information on how to report wanted persons, or administrative or financial corruption.
In April, 2018, the ministry launched “Absher Business,” a technical initiative to transfer its business services to an interactive digital system.
With an annual fee of SR2,000 ($533), business owners such as Marwan Bukhary, owner of Gold Sushi Club Restaurant in Jeddah, used the portal to help manage his workers’ needs in his expanding business.
“There are many features in Absher that helps both individual and establishment owners,” he said. “I took advantage of the great features it provided, and it saved me a lot of time and trouble and also my restaurant workers. It’s a dramatic change. When Absher Business was launched last year, it organized how I needed to manage my workers’ work permits.
“Through the system, I could see the status of all my employees, renew their permits, grant their exit and entry visas, and have their permits delivered to my house or my business through the post after paying the fees. It saved business owners a lot of time and energy.
“I used to have to do everything manually myself or have my courier help. I believe it’s the government’s most advanced system yet with more features being added every now and then,” Bukhary said.
“Absher has eased our burden, unlike the old days when we needed to visit government offices and it would take four weeks just to get an appointment. One click is all it takes now.”