Confronting the Menace: Saudi Arabia’s Vigilance Against ISIL’s Reign of Terror

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In May 2015, Qatif and Dammam mosque bombings in Saudi Arabia claimed the lives of over 25 Shia Muslims, and 106 injured. Further, an August 2015 attack by an ISIL-connected suicide bomber killed fifteen people and wounded nine more at a mosque inside a special forces headquarters. In July 2015, a police attack in the city of Taif resulted in a policeman being gunned down. According to Saudi officers, three people were charged while flags of the ISIL group were found. That same month, a car bomb episode at a security checkpoint in Riyadh, the nation’s capital city, injured two policemen. The driver passed in the explosion. The attack is believed to be connected to ISIL.

Since then, The response of Saudi Arabia to the Islamic State has carried many forms. For example, Saudi government agencies have functioned with the US since late 2014 to prepare and equip Syrian fighters expecting to engage with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants. The challenges of dealing with ISIL are problematized by the fact that around 2,500 militants originally from KSA territory have left for Syria to merge with ISIL, the destabilization produced by the Syrian Civil War having a big effect on the region.

Also understood by varying terms such as the “Islamic State” or the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, ISIL has a global reputation for brutality and violence, actions including beheadings and floggings as well as prohibitions on all kinds of perceived un-Islamic behaviors. A movement of genocide against the Yazidis and a set of slaughters done in the wake of militant victories have also obtained the group’s widespread condemnation. Muslim religious leaders such as Egypt’s grand mufti have criticized the organization, claiming that its actions go against Islam, and leaders both within and outside. After that, Saudi Arabia and the Arab world have pledged to destroy the militants.

According to The Washington Post in 2014, almost 2,500 militants originally from KSA territory left for Syria to unite ISIL, this move being a portion of the general destabilization produced by the Syrian Civil War on the region. In September 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry encountered then-Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in the city of Jeddah to concern ISIL militant battles and related issues. Al-Faisal remarked that his nation has “always taken initiatives concerning a firm standing towards terrorists and against them”, and he also noted that “there is no limit to what the Kingdom can provide in this regard.”

Detailed anti-ISIL efforts include a Saudi government partnership since late 2014 with the U.S. to train and prepare Syrian fighters hoping to fight ISIL militants. The government has also made a television series titled Security of the Kingdom planned to combat ISIL propaganda while encouraging the Saudi perspective on security issues, seeking to foster patriotism. Television figure Mohsin Shaikh Al Hassan said that he wanted to “initially concentrate on children in kindergarten” to “teach them to love their own country”.

The relationship between ISIL’s campaigns and hard-line Islam more commonly in nations such as Saudi Arabia has obtained commentary from a variety of journalists and columnists. For example, CNN correspondent Elise Labott has questioned Kerry about Saudi state backing for an arch-conservative understanding of Islam in the form of Wahhabism. Kerry has answered that the Saudi government’s counter-terrorism efforts have considerably helped, such as by cutting off money streams to terrorist groups.

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