By Arab News
By MD Al-Sulami and Walaa Hawari
Saudi Arabia on Monday announced the names of 23 Saudis wanted in connection with the Awamiya riots in the Eastern Province city of Qatif last October.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Mansour Al-Turki said the men were working according to a foreign agenda, but he did not single out any country for blame.
He added that the men were sponsored financially or supplied with weapons and were working as part of an organization. “Therefore we released a list of the 23 today to encourage them to come forward. We also appeal to the public to disclose any information that could help in the investigations,” he said.
Al-Turki urged the men to report to the nearest security authorities inside the Kingdom or Saudi missions abroad as quickly as possible. “If they do this then this will be taken into account when looking into their cases,” he pointed out.
The ministry also warned the public against providing shelter to the wanted men, and said anyone found doing so would be prosecuted.
Al-Turki said the group was acting on its own accord and did not represent the feelings of residents in the area. “We are not concerned with the other countries, as the Kingdom is targeted by more than one section. Drug dealers, gangs and Al-Qaeda are all examples.”
Al-Turki pointed out that it was evident to the Ministry of Interior the men were working systematically to spread violence. He said the wanted men had criminal records.
“Some of the wanted were also previously arrested for violent offenses and signed a pledge not to be involved in such behavior, but they regressed,” said Al-Turki.
The 23 men, Al-Turki revealed, were requested to present themselves to the authorities after all criminal evidence was reviewed with the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution.
When they failed to comply after a certain period of time, Al-Turki said a list of their names and pictures was released and orders for their arrest were issued.
Al-Turki said the whereabouts of the wanted men was not clear. He said a cash reward would be given to those who supply information leading to the arrest of the men. He added that the reward was to encourage people to come forward even if they felt the information might be useless.
In reply to a question from Arab News whether families from Qatif participated in the violence, the spokesman said: “Citizens from all over the Kingdom demonstrate great cooperation with the authorities with regard to presenting information, as they are concerned with the security of their society. I do not think any family will accept or approve that one of its sons relies on violence or clashes with the authorities.”
As some of the wanted are young, Al-Turki pointed out that they are more vulnerable and enthusiastic and the chances of manipulating them are greater. “The role of the authorities is to prevent crime by spreading a culture that helps limit criminal activity. When a crime is committed, we aim to bring to justice those who committed it,” said Al-Turki. “We do not deal with intentions or beliefs, but the crime itself and the offender. We deal with anything and everyone that jeopardizes people’s lives and interests.”
Every individual is responsible for his actions whether he was misled or not, Al-Turki stressed. “Having grievances does not justify violence. There are bodies to look into those grievances, and our mission is to maintain security.”
Al-Turki indicated the media is free to visit the areas hit by the violence and should reporters face any obstacles, they should contact the Ministry of Culture and Information.
The following are the wanted men: 1. Ahmed Sharaf Hassan Al-Sada, 2. Bashir Jaafar Al-Mutlak, 3. Hassan Jaafar Al-Mutlak, 4. Hussein Hassan Al-Rabie, 5. Hussein Ali Al-Baraki, 6. Khaled Abdul Kareem Al-Labad, 7. Ridwan Jaafar Al-Ridwan, 8. Ramzi Muhammad Al-Jamal, 9. Salman Ali Al-Faraj 10. Shah Ali Isa Al-Shaukan, 11. Abbas Ali Al-Mazroue, 12. Abdullah Salman Al-Asreeh, 13. Ali Hassan Al-Zayed, 14. Ali Muhammad Khalfan, 15. Fadel Hassan Al-Safwani, 16. Muhammad Hassan Al-Zayed, 17. Muhammad Saleh Al-Zinadi, 18. Muhammad Ali Al-Faraj, 19. Muhammad Isa Al-Labad, 20. Muhammad Kazim Al-Shakouri, 21. Marsi Ali Al-Rebh, 22. Muntazir Ali Al-Sabti, and 23. Mousa Jaafar Al-Mabyouk.
Al-Turki, while blaming foreign influence behind deviant groups, said these groups are continuously escalating their activities and seeking ways to break the law. Two people died and three wounded in an exchange of gunfire in Qatif following a string of attacks on security checkpoints by rioters during a funeral procession.
“These casualties occurred following the exchange of gunfire with unknown criminal elements who have infiltrated the citizens’ ranks and are firing from residential areas and narrow streets,” the ministry said in an earlier statement.
The first incident took place in October when 14 people, including 11 policemen, had been wounded in an attack on a police station in Awamiya. According to a security source, a number of security checkpoints and police vehicles came under fire during clashes in the area.