Saudi Arabia faces major challenges in Daesh fight
Saudi security forces face huge challenge in fight against Daesh, but also possess a number of tools to carry it out

Despite ongoing efforts by Saudi Arabian security services to track down and prosecute members of Daesh and hinder their operations, the extremist group is gaining followers in the Kingdom, according to official data.

The latest data published by the Saudi Ministry of Interior in July revealed that during the last few weeks security authorities were able to "overthrow a cluster of terrorist cells organized and linked to Daesh and arrest 431 people from eight nationalities."

"The detainees are responsible for carrying out five attacks (three against Shia in eastern areas of Saudi Arabia, and two against the security forces in Riyadh),” the statement said. "Among them 144 were promoting Daesh’s ideas on the internet in order to recruit new members."

The statement said that these five attacks killed 37 citizens and security force members, and six terrorists, in addition to injuring 120 members of the public and security forces.

Real challenges

Saudi security services face a number of real challenges in their fight against Daesh:

- The use of social media to recruit new members. Although Saudi authorities have said they could arrest 144 people promoting Daesh’s ideas on the internet, experts predict that the real number is much higher.

- Daesh’s use of hard-to-detect young people who have no prior security charges and who have never traveled abroad before.

- The group’s use of explosive belts in most of their operations in order to cause the maximum number of victims and casualties.

- The ease of movement between Gulf States by Gulf citizens, which allows Daesh sympathizers to easily move across borders.

- Saudi Arabia being used as a starting point for carrying out operations against neighboring countries. For example, a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up at the Imam al-Sadiq mosque in Kuwait on June 26, killing 27 worshipers.

- The wide geographical area of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Most operations have taken place in the eastern region, where Saudi’s Shia minority live; Riyadh, the capital located in the center of the Kingdom where security forces are being targeted; and Arar, near Saudi’s northern border with Iraq.

- The Kingdom’s geographic proximity to the many troubled places where Daesh is active, especially Syria and Iraq.

Anti-Daesh tools

Saudi security services have a number of tools at their disposal, however:

- Counter-terrorism experience: This has been accumulated over the years with great success in eliminating al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.

- Success of Saudi security forces to arrest large numbers of Daesh members by identifying the group’s methods of recruitment and potential targets.

- Spiritual and religious support for the security forces in their fight against Daesh by clerics in the Kingdom.

- International anti-Daesh security and intelligence cooperation: Saudi Arabia is a member of the U.S.-led international anti-Daesh coalition that is carrying out air strikes against Daesh, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Prominent attacks

Saudi Arabia has been targeted by more Daesh attacks than any other Gulf state, with its Shia minority and security forces being the focus of the group’s attacks.

Daesh attacks began in Saudi Arabia after a recorded audio message by the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, last November.

In the message he called on his supporters to carry out operations against "the polytheists in Muhammad's island, peace be upon him," referring to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi security forces clearly face a huge challenge in their fight against Daesh, but also possess a number of promising tools at their disposal to carry out this huge task.

Last Modified: 2015-08-13 08:57:22
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