By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
Saudi television recently aired a recorded telephone conversation between an alleged member of Al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Saudi Ambassador to Sanaa, during which Al-Qaeda revealed that it had kidnapped the Saudi deputy consul in Yemen, and stated its conditions for the safe release of the kidnapped diplomat, one of which was the release of all prisoners in Saudi Arabia affiliated to the terrorist organization.
Of course, this is not the whole story. Interestingly, the Al-Qaeda member identified the names of some prisoners, including some Saudi women, who the terrorist organization wants released and then sent to Yemen! Amazingly, the Al-Qaeda member during the telephone conversation identified the names of the female prisoners, who are as follows: Najwa Al-Saidi, Arwa Baghdadi, Hanan Samkari, Najla Al-Roumi and Haifa Al-Ahmadi! This is amazing for one simple reason, namely that most of those women’s names identified by Al-Qaeda are already the subjects of major campaigns undertaken on their behalf on the Internet, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, under the guise of human rights demands.
Indeed, some human rights activists and institutions claim that they, i.e. the female prisoners, have been incarcerated because of their opinions, and the Saudi government is suppressing them!
Of course, these campaigns in the name of human rights garnered great support at the time because of the surplus emotion generated by the so-called Arab Spring. Matters soon became intertwined to the extent that those prisoners, accused by Saudi Arabia of being affiliated to Al-Qaeda, became equated to the activists who had been arrested in the states that recently witnessed revolutions or uprisings. All this confusion, of course, was thanks to the frenzied online campaigns and the inflamed Arab sentiments about what was happening in the region, particularly with regard to Tunisia and Egypt, and likewise thanks to increasing Western media attention toward Saudi Arabia, particularly last year during the day of incitement that was falsely branded the “day of rage”. Today, according to the recording aired by the Saudi Interior Ministry, it is clear that those who were previously thought to have been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia “because of their opinions,” defended in turn by those who described themselves as human rights activists, are nothing more than affiliates of Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, Al-Qaeda does not only demand their release, but wants them transferred from Riyadh to the terrorist organization’s headquarters in Yemen! Here the outstanding question is: Has Al-Qaeda become affiliated with human rights activists? Or have human rights activists become affiliated with Al-Qaeda? This is an important and indeed essential question, because it is clear that our confusion is not a coincidence, nor does it stem from ignorance, but rather it is a result of these organized campaigns that are aimed at incitement and pushing matters toward chaos, for whatever reasons.
If it is true that one of the achievements of the so-called Arab Spring was the renouncement of a series of lies and false slogans that plagued our region for decades, whether politically, religiously or culturally, then today we are instead witnessing great confusion at the level of politicians, intellectuals and senior media figures. Today we are even witnessing further lies being exposed, namely those of human rights advocates in Saudi Arabia, as it becomes clear that those who they championed as innocent, imprisoned for their opinions, are nothing more than affiliates of Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization that calls for their release today, and even wants them transferred to Yemen! This really is the year that the mask finally fell.
The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]