Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister has warned the conservative Islamic state's clergy that they should discourage Saudis, including their own children, from going to fight in Iraq.
In a speech before hundreds of clerics, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz appeared to suggest that some members of Saudi Arabia's powerful religious establishment had not doing enough to prevent Saudi youth from joining the insurgency in Iraq.
"Do you know that your sons who go to Iraq are used only for blowing themselves up? Iraqi officials told me that themselves," a leading member of the royal family said in comments carried by state media.
"They are brought to put on explosive belts or blow themselves up in cars ... Innocents die. Are you happy for your children to become instruments of murder?" he added.
Nayef announced earlier this week that two religious courts had been established in the Kingdom — one in Riyadh and one in Jeddah — to speed up the trials of terrorism suspects apprehended in the country.
Prince Nayef also called on Saudi parents to keep a close eye on their children’s activities, adding that those who reported their son’s terrorist activities were serving the country. “They will be serving their sons or brothers by reporting them. The government will return them to the right path,” he said.
Nayef also acknowledged that much remained to be done on the ideological side in the Kingdom’s battle against terrorism. “We need greater efforts from religious scholars, sheikhs, thinkers and people working in educational institutions,” he said. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not yet been seen and they need to happen as soon as possible.”
The Prince confirmed that Iran is holding Saudi terror suspects, and acknowledged there may also be Saudis in Lebanon, but he denied that Saudi authorities had received any terror suspects from Iraq. “It is unfortunate that Iraq has become a fertile ground for training and assisting in terrorist operations,” he said. The minister said that those being trained in Iraq as terrorists were being exported to Saudi Arabia and other countries, a matter which he says is of “deep concern” to Saudi authorities.