Al-Qaida rekrutterer nye tilhengere og sympatisører i Saudi-Arabia. Myndighetene ser bare sikkerhetssiden ved problemet, ikke den religiøse. Derfor vekker Al-Qaidas budskap gjenklang blant mennesker.

Det har vært flere skyteepisoder i Riyadh og andre steder i landet de siste ukene. Både politifolk og terrorister er skutt. State Department i Washington har bedt alt ikke-essensielt personell og deres familier om å forlate Saudi-Arabia.

«These events make it clear that [Al Qaeda is] still capable of getting new recruits, of convincing a certain segment of society of their point of view, and of getting logistical support from sympathizers,» says Abdullah Bjad al-Otaibi, a writer and expert on extremists.

Det er over et halvt år siden myndighetene laget en liste over de 26 mest ettersøkte terroristene. 22 er fortsatt på frifot. De som tas står ikke på listen, hvilket tyder på at de er nykommere.

«Despite the large security presence and substantial reward money offered by the government, suspects still enjoy cover within Saudi society and continue to hide and re2_kommentar in and around the capital,» says Mansour al-Nogaidan, a columnist for the newspaper Al Riyadh.

«The picture the authorities had of Al Qaeda’s strength in Saudi Arabia was not accurate. They have more sympathizers and fighters than they thought, and their language of violence continues to find takers here and support among a segment of Saudi society that shares the common religious ideology of Wahhabism,» says Adel al-Toraifi, a columnist at the newspaper Al Watan.

«The problem is that we’re not dealing with the extremist thought that makes these men fertile ground for the call to violence; we’re only dealing with the violence,» says Mr. Toraifi.

The absence in Saudi Arabia of means for clear and peaceful freedom of thought and expression, coupled with the violence against Arabs and Muslims in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, makes it easier for Al Qaeda to gain recruits, says Mr. Otaibi.

«With the daily television images of soldiers killing Arab women and children in cold blood in Palestine and Iraq, there is growing anti-American feelings among the man in the street, and these guys paint the Saudi government as allies of the United States,» says Otaibi. «We must raise the roof on freedom of thought and expression so that these tensions and emotions are dealt with in a peaceful manner.»

In Saudi Arabia, fresh recruits for Al QaedaThe State Department is expected to order all nonessential diplomats out of the country this week.

By Faiza Saleh Ambah | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

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