Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sentiment Run Amok? Compassion on Crack? Saudi Arabia Releases Terror Suspects

On the off chance that someone on Earth hasn't heard about the detention facility at Guantanamo, here's the background. In the excitement after 9/11, the American government wound up with 759 prisoners: people who almost certainly had been killing Americans directly, or had been collecting money and otherwise supporting the actual hit men.

These prisoners have been held at the Guantanamo naval base, a patch of land with a curious history of its own, down in a climate zone that attracts Americans looking for a subtropical vacation. (I'll add the obligatory "About 340 detainees remain in Guantanamo on suspicion of links to terrorism, Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Most have been held for years without being charged.")

Of those 759, 136 are Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia has complained about Saudis being held at Guantanamo. Starting in May of 2006, the U.S. government started transferring Saudis to Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud and its government has 55 of these Saudi terror suspects in custody now.

عيد الفطر (Eid ul-Fitr, or Eid) is a big day in the Islamic world. It marks the end of Ramadan. As a strictly cultural event, it sounds a little like the end-of-fasting aspects of Easter. On top of that, it has spiritual significance for Muslims.

The Saudi government will release their 'Guantanamo' prisoners so that they could celebrate Eid with their families. The Saudis will even give their fellow-countrymen the equivalent of about $2,600 USD.

Now, "Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz granted the temporary releases from detention centres in Saudi Arabia so the prisoners could spend time with their families during the holiday in mid-October," according to the Associated Press. The AP got its information from a newspaper called Okaz.

It's a very nice gesture, of course, and shows great compassion.

We're assured that the House of Saud has everything under control. "They will return to police custody after the holiday and will be referred to Saudi courts at end of this month for upcoming trials, the paper said."

I suppose the terror suspects gave their word. In some places, and at some times, that was enough.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.