Interior Ministry: Saudis proactively seeking help for relatives misled by extremism

August 13, 2008

The Ministry of Interior issued a statement today welcoming the efforts made by Saudi citizens to protect their families from deviants who exploit the religious beliefs of youths in an effort to recruit them for suspicious purposes.

Saudis – in particular fathers, mothers and wives – have taken the initiative to contact the authorities and request help for family members who have been misled by deviant thought, the Ministry said.

The families have requested that a qualified scholar talk to the individual in question and clarify misconceptions promoted by extremists. They have also reported the sudden disappearance of a relative, enabling the authorities to track the person in question down before he reaches “places of sedition and unrest” and help him return to the right path.

The Ministry provided several examples of cases in which family intervention kept an individual from being exploited by extremists. In all cases cited by the Ministry, the individuals in question were enrolled in a special program to clarify their misconceptions with the full participation of family members.

In one case, a citizen from Rabigh Province contacted authorities and expressed the desire to surrender himself. The individual said that he had developed misconceptions after frequenting extremist websites and feared that he would commit a dangerous act. Religious specialists and psychologists advised the individual and clarified his misconceptions.

In a second case, three citizens reported the sudden departure of their sons to participate in what the youths claimed to be jihad. Saudi authorities were able to track the sons’ travel and intercept them before they reached their destination.

In a third case, a citizen reported a call received from someone abroad claiming to have found the family’s son, who had been missing since 2006. The caller said that the son was in bad condition and was attempting to return to the Kingdom using forged documents. With the help of the authorities, the son returned to Saudi Arabia, where he stated that he had used his brother’s passport to leave the Kingdom after being affected by deviant websites and video clips on the Internet. Asked to carry out a suicide operation, the youth hesitated and was imprisoned by the group. The family’s wise action will be taken into consideration when considering the youth’s case, the Ministry said.

A fourth case involved a wife who contacted a sheikh after her husband left to take part in what he claimed to be jihad. The sheikh in turn contacted the authorities, who were able to track down the husband and return him to the Kingdom.  The husband subsequently expressed regret for his actions and was reunited with his family.

In the statement, the Ministry also urged all citizens to report the sudden absence of a relative or a shift in a family member’s attitudes or tendencies. A telephone number, 990, has been allocated for such reports.

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