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Al-Fifi regrets turning his back on Saudi generosity

Arab News
by Md al-Sulami
December 28, 2010

JEDDAH: In his third appearance on Saudi TV on Monday, Jaber Al-Fifi, who was No. 20 on the Kingdom’s list of 85 most-wanted militants, expressed regret at turning his back on the Saudi government’s generosity.

“The Saudi government assisted me in getting married, paid for my rent and furnished my apartment. It also paid for my father’s medication. I then turned my back on them and went out to fight,” said Al-Fifi on the Saudi Channel 1 program, Homomna (Our Concerns).

In the most recent episode of his interview, the 36-year-old spoke about his time in the mountains of Tora Bora, Guantanamo Bay and Yemen where he joined Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Terrorism was born without any knowledge of the true Islamic religion. Takfir (declaring another out of the fold of Islam) was done without any evidence or profit behind prison walls by politicized Arabs and Afghans,” he said.

He added that Saeed Al-Shihri, a wanted militant and leader of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, encouraged militants who had repented after their release from Guantanamo to rejoin Al-Qaeda and that non-Saudi militants pressed him and others to fight the Kingdom.

“The Saudi terrorists absented themselves from religious sermons while in prison and focused on remaining patient until they were released and able to go back and fight their own country,” he said.

Al-Fifi said he was caught in Pakistan where he was handed over to US soldiers and flown to a prison in Kandahar. “I stayed there for 14 days after which I was transported to Guantanamo; there were many Arabs and Afghans there,” he said.

Speaking about the US detention camp, he said conditions were very bad and that inmates were tortured and mistreated.  “We were kicked, beaten and thrown into prison like sacks. We were not allowed to extend our hands out of our blankets, make the Adhan or talk to our neighbors,” he said.

Al-Fifi recalled that he spent five years in five different prisons before finally being released. “I could not believe myself when I arrived in the Kingdom. I looked for signs to show that I was in my country but could find none. I realized that I was in the Kingdom when I spoke to a man who answered me in a Saudi dialect,” he said.

Al-Fifi said he relapsed back into terrorism and fled to Yemen after going through a rehabilitation program at Prince Muhammad bin Naif Center for Counseling and Care. “I was looking for martyrdom and was deeply affected by the war in Gaza and the atrocities in Iraq. I went to Yemen because it was easy to enter,” he said.

Further episodes of Al-Fifi’s interview are to be broadcast over the next few weeks.

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