Riyadh 'rehabilitates' hundreds of citizens 'from extremism'

Saudi Arabia 'rehabilitates' hundreds of citizens in alleged bid to combat radicalisation
2 min read
11 October, 2021
A Saudi diplomat at the UN said Saudi Arabia has rehabilitated hundreds of its citizens since 2012 to combat cross-border radicalisation.
Saudi Arabia's UN representative praised her country's efforts in facilitating the return of families of foreign fighters from conflict zones [source: Getty]

Saudi Arabia has rehabilitated 1,000 citizens from conflict-affected areas in a bid to counter "cross-border radicalisation", Saudi UN diplomat Nidaa Abu Ali has said. 

The Saudi representative lauded her country's efforts to "combat terrorist threats" and emphasised the need to strengthen the rule of law on global extremism during a speech at the UN's sixth committee. 

She highlighted Saudi Arabia's role in returning families of foreign fighters from war zones, estimating that a thousand citizens have been "recovered" since 2012, according to a report by the Saudi Gazette. 

"The kingdom was keen to provide the necessary facilities for the return of 160 families of these citizens from the conflict zones. These included a total of 320 children and 130 wives," said Ali. 

"The kingdom's efforts are still continuing in this regard to recover the rest of its citizens who are in [a] conflict zone and to facilitate the return of their families back to the Kingdom." 

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As many as 2,500 Saudis reportedly travelled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State group between 2014 and 2015, according to the BBC.

Saudi Arabia has a comprehensive counter-radicalisation programme with the aim of diminishing threats posed by jihadist groups and recovering its citizens. 

On their return, said Ali in her UN speech, families of fighters are cared for by the community and supported to get rid of extremist ideas through rehabilitation and reintegration. 

The success of this programme has been disputed. While Saudi ministers report high levels of de-radicalisation, Saudi Arabia has in the past been linked to the funding and growth of jihadist groups.  

The first secretary and member of the kingdom’s permanent delegation at the UN also hailed Saudi Arabia's commitment "to raising the level of integrity and accountability based on its awareness of the grave consequences of corruption". 

She said her country was "witnessing fundamental reforms in all parts of the state" to deal with corruption crimes. 

Allegations of corruption are rife in Saudi Arabia. 

Human Rights Watch has recorded widespread rights abuses including mass arrests and detentions, a crackdown on dissent and free speech, surveillance, hacking, and jailing of the country’s most prominent advocates.