Monday, November 24, 2003

Saudi cleric recants

Saudi cleric Sheik Nasser al-Fahd has withdrawn his support for suicide bombings and violence. Think it has something to do with getting himself out of jail?

A radical Muslim cleric was taken from his prison cell during the weekend to recant his support for violent extremists and denounce suicide bombings on prime-time television.

Sheik Nasser al-Fahd, 35, told millions of Saudi viewers that "blowing oneself up in such operations is not martyrdom; it is suicide."

He added, "We did not think matters would reach this point. My message is: Fear God, and repent your mistakes. It is not shameful to admit mistakes."

The sheik's public self-abasement comes after a series of attacks on compounds housing foreign workers in the capital, Riyadh, which have claimed 54 lives since May.

Sheik al-Fahd's appearance was intended to drive home the official message that Saudi Arabia is clamping down on Islamic extremism. Western diplomats agree that real steps have been taken.

Sheik al-Fahd was among three radical clerics who were arrested in May after they issued a string of inflammatory "fatwas," or edicts.

They declared the killing of Saudi security forces permissible and ordered Muslims not to inform on 19 al Qaeda suspects named by the authorities. The wanted men were "virtuous and devout," the clerics said.

But, of course, the US is making it "hard" for Saudi officials to wage their war on terror:

Yet Saudi officials are deeply suspicious of the U.S. war on terrorism. One said the real aim of the United States was controlling Middle Eastern oil supplies.

Officials also say American policies, notably support for Israel and the occupation of Iraq, are undermining their campaign against the extremists.

"America is the biggest recruiter these people have," said one.

I guess right after we turn Iraq over to the UN we can let Saudi Arabia handle the war on terror.


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