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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Initiatives and efforts to combat terrorism and terror financing

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Written by editor

WASHINGTON, DC – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long condemned terrorism in all its forms and maintains a policy of strong international cooperation to fight terrorism around the world.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long condemned terrorism in all its forms and maintains a policy of strong international cooperation to fight terrorism around the world. Saudi Arabia has for decades been a target of extremists and terrorists. The Saudi government believes that defeating terrorism requires sound policies, concerted government efforts and international cooperation.

Saudi-U.S. Partnership: Saudi Arabia has been a strong U.S. counterterrorism partner. The two countries work on a range of counterterrorism issues, including countering terrorist financing, and work together to help various nations in the region counter shared terrorist threats. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have established two Joint Task Forces—one to combat terrorists, another to combat terror financing. Experts from both governments work side-by-side, sharing real-time information about terror networks.

The 9-11 Commission confirmed that it found no evidence that the government of Saudi Arabia funded Al-Qaeda, stating, “… we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”
Combating Terrorism: The late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called for the establishment of an international center to combat terrorism more than 10 years ago out of his firm belief that terrorism can be most effectively fought when nations work closely together in all areas, including the sharing of information.

In 2005, Saudi Arabia hosted the historic Counter-Terrorism International Conference in Riyadh where more than 55 countries participated and during which the proposal for the establishment of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center (UNCCT) was unanimously adopted. In 2008, King Abdullah pledged $10 million to the United Nations to establish the Centre and, in 2011, Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the U.N. to launch the UNCCT. In August 2014, King Abdullah provided the Centre with a donation of $100 million to enhance its capabilities and effectiveness in helping countries combat terrorism. In February 2014, King Abdullah issued a royal decree on counterterrorism. The decree reinforced that acts of terrorism, including membership in terrorist organizations, and ‎participation in hostilities outside the Kingdom, will not be tolerated.

Saudi Arabia continues to undertake effective initiatives in support of countries combating terrorism around the world. Examples include:

• Lebanon – Saudi Arabia donated $1 billion to Lebanese security services to combat terrorism. This aid is separate from the $3 billion Saudi Arabia pledged to Lebanon in December 2013 to strengthen the capabilities of the nation’s armed forces.

• Yemen – Saudi Arabia is the largest donor of aid to Yemen. Its aid has helped the country enhance counterterrorism training and expanded Yemen’s expertise and intelligence collection in order to combat the spread of terrorism.

• Iraq – Saudi Arabia contributed $500 million to the Iraqi people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, in order to help the Iraqi people overcome the hardships they have endured and to help thwart the spread of extremism.

• Saudi Arabia has also provided financial support to other countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mauritania to help enhance counter-terrorism capabilities.
Combating Terror Financing: Terror networks thrive on illicit funding, often hiding behind charitable organizations. To combat this threat, Saudi Arabia has put in place one of the world’s strictest financial control systems to prevent funds going to support terrorism.

• All Saudi financial institutions have implemented the 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the G-8 regarding money laundering and the eight recommendations regarding terror financing. In August 2015, Saudi Arabia joint the FATF as an Observer Member.

• Saudi charities are prohibited from transferring money abroad. The collection of cash contributions in mosques and public places is prohibited.

• The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency offers programs and has implemented a technical program to train judges and investigators on legal matters involving terrorism financing and money laundering methods, international requirements for financial secrecy, and methods exercised by criminals to exchange information.

• Saudi Arabia works closely with the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Australia and other allies to combat terror financing on a global scale.

Overcoming Extremism: Saudi Arabia will not tolerate extremists who have misused religion to advance perverted agendas. To combat this threat, Saudi officials and religious scholars have publicly and unequivocally condemned terrorist acts, and have aggressively sought to discredit deviant terrorist ideologies.

• Saudi Arabia has launched a nationwide effort through the Kingdom’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs to ensure mosques have not been used as sources of extremism.

• The Senior Council of Ulema (religious scholars) has issued a fatwa (religious edict) prohibiting terrorism and terrorist financing, and declaring any support for terrorism is a violation of Islamic law.

• To combat the spread and appeal of extremist ideologies among the population, the Kingdom has initiated a Counter-Radicalization Program. This effort educates at-risk groups about the dangers of violent extremism and provides positive, alternative outlets.

• In 2007, King Abdullah launched an international effort to promote interfaith dialogue. In 2011, The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) was founded in Vienna to promote mutual understanding among followers of different religions and cultures around the world.