King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia issued an anti-jihad decree today by setting prison sentences of three to 20 years for anyone who goes abroad to fight in other countries’ conflicts or with a terrorist group.
The decree outlaws “taking part in combat outside the kingdom, in any form” and includes those who belong to “extremist religious and ideological groups, or those classified as terrorist organizations, domestically, regionally and internationally.”
The king’s directive also outlaws supporting those groups “through speech or writing” and promoting their ideology.
The decree came about as an effort to deter a recent wave of jihadi exports, including to Syria.
Human Rights Watch said the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”
The terrorism law outlaws any act “destabilises the society’s security or the state’s stability or exposes its national unity to harm,” including “disabling the ruling system” or “offending the nation’s reputation.”
The White House announced today that President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia in March to meet with the king.
“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” the administration said. “The president will travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following his travel to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.”
Obama is likely to try to put pressure on the Saudis over their willingness to team up with Israel to ensure, by force if necessary, that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.