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Saudi terror trials a way to negate radical views – US envoy
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 22 - 10 - 2008

The United States is “very supportive” of Saudi Arabia's first terrorist trials for which legal procedures started Monday. The trials are being conducted after more than five years of deadly violence across the country.
“We are very supportive ... (and) pleased to see that this trial is being held,” US Ambassador Ford M. Fraker, told Saudi Gazette. “We think that it is important that many of these extremist views be made public so the people can see how damaging these views are.”
Almost 1,000 defendants are to go on trial, the procedures of which started Monday when the High Court in Riyadh received charge-sheets against 991 suspects arrested for the 2003 terrorist attacks in the capital city. The trials are likely to begin after the Haj, Okaz Arabic daily had reported, citing unnamed sources.
Fraker said the trials will help educate the public about the dangers of extremism. “I think that the trial itself, and the outcome of the trial certainly will be known to the public. That is all part of educating the public about the dangers of extremism and that is a very good step.”
The Saudi government has done a superb job in cracking down on extremism and terrorism, the ambassador said, speaking Monday during a break at the three-day First Arab Consumer and Brand Protection Forum being held at Jeddah Hilton.
“In fact they all should be warmly congratulated for their professionalism, and efficiency. It is quite a success story here. We feel very comfortable that we are in the hands of such professionals.”
He said the three-day anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting Forum which began Sunday in Jeddah was significant in that some of the profits and proceeds from the activities concerning counterfeit products can go to fund terrorism. “(This is) one of our concerns about protecting intellectual property rights (IPR), and we should be working very hard to stop this,” Fraker said.
According to an unprecedented and uncensored nationwide public opinion survey conducted in Saudi Arabia from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5, 2007 by the US-based Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion, and D3 Systems, which was made public early this year, the people of Saudi Arabia are among the most anti-terrorist in the entire Muslim world.
Saudis also overwhelmingly disapprove of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, the survey found. Eighty-eight percent of Saudis approve of the Saudi military and police pursuing Al-Qaeda fighters.
When asked to choose the most important priorities for the Kingdom, 93 percent of those surveyed picked reducing unemployment and inflation, followed by addressing the problem of terrorism (88 percent); providing financial assistance to foreign mosques (81 percent); ensuring a free press and free elections (80 percent); defeating Al Qaeda and other Jihadi groups (61 percent) and permitting women to drive (43 percent). __


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