Welcome. Thank you for joining us today.
During the last several years the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with our global partners, has been engaged in a program to eradicate the roots of terrorism. This effort is being conducted on three fronts simultaneously: We have gone after terrorists, those who support them, and those who condone their actions.
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[For complete transcript, including Q&A session, click here]
First, we have gone after the terrorists. We have pursued them relentlessly, killing or capturing their leaders, seizing their weapons, uncovering their arms caches. We have over 700 terrorist suspects in custody and have severely diminished the terrorists’ will and capability to attack inside Saudi Arabia. Of the 26 most-wanted terrorists in Saudi Arabia, 18 have been captured or killed. But we still have a long way to go to eliminate this scourge from our midst.
We have beefed up our security forces, we have acquired new methods and technologies to track and pursue terrorist cells, and we have increased international cooperation to unprecedented levels.
No one can doubt the tenacity of our hunt for the terrorists or our effectiveness in bringing them to justice.
Second, we have gone after the financial support for terrorism. We have made great efforts to identify and shut down the financial sources that may support terrorism. We have enacted world class financial controls and have implemented the 40 recommendations on money laundering and 8 recommendations on terror financing of the Financial Action Task Force of the G-8. The controls and mechanisms Saudi Arabia has enacted are among the strictest in the world.
These restrictions include effective new controls on charities, recognizing that charitable giving is a central tenet of our faith and an important part of Saudi culture. Today, no Saudi charity can send any funds abroad without government oversight and control. I doubt that any country has come close to this kind of regulation.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, Saudi Arabia has taken steps to combat the mindset that instills and justifies acts of terror, hatred and violence. Islam is a religion of peace, benevolence and tolerance, and we will not allow deviants to corrupt our faith. We are revitalizing our educational system to instill the true values of our faith: compassion, moderation, love and peace, while improving critical thinking. In our mosques, imams who have preached hatred and violence have been taken to task. An example has been set, and our religious scholars are working to bring those who have deviated back to the peaceful and tolerant precepts of Islam.
As a part of the effort to change the mindset, I would like to introduce to you another step in our campaign against extremism.
As a means to clearly communicate our message of tolerance and peace, Saudi Arabia has been carrying out an unprecedented public service campaign inside our own country designed to educate and inform the Saudi people about the evils and effects of terrorism and extremism.
The campaign includes public service announcements, special television programming and in-school education programs. This campaign began with the hosting of the Counter-Terrorism International Conference that took place in Riyadh from February 5-8, and continues as we speak.
For example, over a two-week period, schools and mosques in the Kingdom are devoting time to lectures promoting moderation and tolerance, and highlighting the evils of terrorism.
The size and scope of this campaign is unprecedented. These messages are being displayed on billboards, ATMs, local advertisements and television.
The advertisements, all of which are in Arabic, foster concepts to destroy the mindset of hate and violence and appeal to the values that all Saudis share, to work for a better society without extremism. These ads are being shown on a number of Arabic satellite networks including Al-Arabiya, MBC and Future Television, as well as on Saudi TV channels.
The bottom line is that no Saudi citizen will be able to escape the clear message that intolerance, violence and extremism are not part of our Islamic faith or Saudi culture or traditions.
To demonstrate to you what the Saudi people are seeing, we have prepared subtitled versions of a few of the advertisements.
There are three phases to the campaign. The first is designed to personify and humanize the victims of terrorism. As you know, over the past two years, more than 500 people been killed or injured by acts of terrorism in the Kingdom, including over 35 brave security officers who gave their lives in the line of duty and over 200 who were injured.
This first spot depicts a father who lost a son through terrorism.
Video One (*) : [Screening of 52-second ad]
Phase II of the campaign is designed to make clear that terrorism and extremism are not part of our faith, culture or society.
Video Two (*) : [Screening of 53-second ad]
The final phase is designed to promote values and feelings of national pride. The Saudi people have been galvanized in opposition to Al-Qaeda and terrorism in general, and this message is meant to continue to reinforce and mobilize national opinion.
Video Three (*) : [Screening of 62-second ad]
In addition to the advertising campaign, we have also developed a series of special programming, some of which is designed to reach a younger audience. We will be showing you excerpts from two of them.
We have a multi-series program called “The Discourse of Mind and Logic,” a series of documentaries that addresses how terrorist ideology was spread in the region and in the Kingdom and the effect it has had on Saudi Arabia. In this example, the narrator relates these effects on society and family, and you will meet children whose innocence and future have been altered by terrorism.
Video Four: [Screening of 48-second clip]
This next program is from another series of documentaries, entitled “Why?” You will see members of families grieving because of acts of terrorism that have killed or injured their loved ones. The goal of this program is to reinforce the importance of the true ideals of Islam – tolerance and peace. By relying on faith, it will help them overcome such tragedy.
Video Five: [Screening of 93-second program clip]
(*) To view video clips, latest free download of Real Player is required.
This national multimedia public service campaign is similar to, but more intense than, the “Just Say No” or “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Drive” campaigns in the United States. We are using different forms of communication to send a clear and powerful message, and we are taking serious actions to undermine the strength of those that try to misguide our young people.
God willing, this campaign will help educate our public, especially our young people, about the dangers of extremism, and contribute to the war against terrorism.
These remarks were followed by a question and answer session