Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

Saudi issues new law to combat terror financing

New regulations have also provided a witness protection programme

Saudi armed forces march during a parade in Saudi Arabia. AFP
Saudi armed forces march during a parade in Saudi Arabia. AFP

Saudi Arabia’s new anti-terrorism law came into effect this week as the country looks to tackle the global network of funding for extremist groups, state media confirmed on Monday.

The details of the plan, published in the national gazette Um Al Qura, shows that authorities will clamp down on 12 financial activities used to support and deliver funds to terrorist groups.

The law targets entities that attempt to create shadow organisations funding terrorism under the guise of a charity, private banking or lending organisation, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Authorities will also be allowed to look into the suspicious activities of foreign exchange offices and those working in remittances.

The new laws will help protect authorities as they look to track suspicious networks for those related to Hezbollah, the Houthis, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. The new law allows for the transfer of individuals who authorities suspect are involved in terrorism funding to the public prosecution after their arrest. This allows for questioning of individuals to be added to a body of evidence.

The Ministry of Finance will also be tasked with tracking gold and the precious jewelry trade.

A protection programme was also announced alongside the new law. Assurances were given to those involved in the fight against terrorism and their families. The law provides certain guarantees to those involved in the security apparatus and implementing the financial regulations that will choke out terrorism funding.

The law also provides a witness protection programme that will provide relocation, incognito witness protection, direct lines of communication and providing alternative sources of income in the case of relocation.

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The prison sentence has been set by the new law to jail those convicted of being part of a terrorism network to a minimum of 8 years of prison with a maximum of 25 years. Those involved in a terrorist activity resulting in the murder of anyone will be executed.

Protecting youth from extremist ideologies has also been placed as part of the plan. Saudi Arabia has begun rolling out new reforms on their national education curriculum by introducing western ideologies into government teaching.

The law was agreed upon on a ministerial meeting chaired by Saudi King Salman. The authorities will be working with international organisations to ensure global coordination on disrupting international terrorism funding networks.

Saudi Arabia has increased its crackdown on terrorist activities in the country as part of a wider strategy to create stability in the region.

Riyadh has also taken a harder stance on Iranian-funded sources of extremism, most notably in Yemen where it continues to fight the Tehran-backed Houthis on behalf of the Yemeni government.

Updated: January 29, 2019 04:14 PM

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