Indians, Pakistanis among 823 foreign suspects held

Updated 10 June 2016

Indians, Pakistanis among 823 foreign suspects held

RIYADH: Twenty-nine Pakistanis, 19 Indians and eight US nationals are among a total of 823 foreign nationals arrested on terror charges in the Kingdom.
Also among the terror suspects are three Europeans, two Indonesians, six Filipinos and 18 Africans, mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Nigeria, currently languishing in Saudi prisons together with 4,409 Saudi nationals.
A few of the foreign suspects have been convicted, but the majority of suspects are under investigation.
“The Saudi government has also frozen 117 bank accounts suspected of being used to transfer money to terrorist groups and is making all efforts to stop individuals from misusing charitable foundations to fund terrorism,” Major General Mansour Al-Turki, Interior Ministry spokesman, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday via conference call from Riyadh.
The government has prosecuted 240 suspects on charges related to funding terrorism, he added. “The Kingdom has always been serious in its efforts in combating terror financing,” Al-Turki said. “We are monitoring all transactions to banks,” and investigating the frozen accounts, he added. “We have faced more than 63 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda and Daesh, 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 has established a money intelligence department to monitor and investigate any suspected financial transactions.
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) 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 117 suspected bank accounts and closing all unlicensed charity collection locations,” said Gen. Al-Turki.
Asked about the statistics of terror suspects posted on the MOI’s website (www.nafethah.gov.sa), an MOI official said that “all information there on the website is verified.”
The interactive portal also serves as the real window of communication between the prisoner or detainee and their loved ones,” said the MOI site, which was updated last week.
Asked about the status of the case of US nationals in detention in Saudi Arabia, an American Embassy spokesman said that “the mission cannot confirm the arrest of the US citizens due to privacy considerations.” Asian embassies contacted by Arab News were not fully aware of their nationals behind bars in the Kingdom on terror charges. Some African embassies, contacted on Thursday, could not immediately confirm that African citizens are among the suspects.
However, one African diplomat said that they are still checking the names against their databases. A careful perusal of the MOI portal reveals that an Indian passport holder has appeal rights, while 14 are still under investigation. One Indian national has already been convicted. Pakistanis under investigation number 21, with one convicted, and six subject to appeal before the courts. The number of foreigners adjudged with terror activities inside the Kingdom is 823.
Among the foreign nationals, those from the US number eight, out of which seven are under investigation, while one has been convicted and will be sentenced. A total 11 Ethiopians, two Eritreans and five Nigerians are among the others convicted. One of the Nigerians is still being investigated. Also, six Afghanis have been convicted of their involvement in some form of terror-related act, according to the MOI website.
This high number of foreign nationals involved in detestable acts is upsetting and there is a need for foreign diplomatic missions based in Saudi Arabia to educate their nationals to refrain from terror-related acts and to comply with the laws of the land.


Saudi Arabia confirms no change in Israel travel rules

Updated 27 January 2020

Saudi Arabia confirms no change in Israel travel rules

  • Foreign minister says Israeli passport holders are still unable to visit the the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has confirmed that Israeli citizens are still unable to visit the Kingdom.

Foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the policy has not changed despite Israel saying on Sunday that its passport holders could now travel to the country for religious and business visits.

“Our policy is fixed,” Prince Faisal told CNN. “We do not have relations with the state of Israel and Israeli passport holders cannot visit the Kingdom at the current time.”

His comments come as Donald Trump prepares to unveil his Middle East peace plan on Tuesday. An agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would be key to improving relations with Arab countries, most of which have no diplomatic ties with Israel.

“When a peace agreement is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis, I believe the issue of Israel’s involvement in the region will be on the table,” Prince Faisal added.

Israel’s interior minister said on Sunday that Israelis - if invited and permitted by Saudi authorities - would be allowed to travel there for religious reasons on pilgrimage or for up to nine days for business reasons such as investment or meetings.

Israelis, mostly Muslims going on pilgrimage, do visit the Kingdom, but usually with special permission or using foreign passports.

Saudi Arabia, along with most Arab countries have no official diplomatic relations with Israel, and citizens of those countries are not able to travel to Israel nor Israelis to those countries.

However, relations between Israel and Gulf states have improved in recent years, particularly over a shared stand against Iran and its aggressive policies in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that he welcomed Israel’s warming ties to Arab countries in the region.

In 2018, Netanyahu visited Oman and met the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

*With Reuters