Saudi terrorists rich and driven by revenge; Most are middle-class or rich and show no signs of psychological problems and are driven by religious belief and a sense of revenge against perceived oppressors
(The Age) SAUDI Arabian terrorists are driven by religious belief and a sense of revenge against perceived oppressors, a counter-terrorism conference was told yesterday.
Most are middle-class or rich and show no signs of psychological problems, according to Bahraini researcher Hadyah Mohammed Fathalla, who studied 45 “mujahideen” arrested or wanted by Saudi authorities for terrorist activity.
Ms Fathalla used al-Qaeda documents and videos, as well as interviews, to build a profile of its members in Saudi. The men were not recruited but sought out the organisation. Their overriding motivation was to defend the Islamic community of believers, she said.
Ms Fathalla was speaking at an international conference on counter-terrorism organised by the Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Co-ordination Unit and Monash University.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clark is head of the anti-terrorist branch at New Scotland Yard and Britain’s national co-ordinator for terrorist investigations.
He told the conference that Britain had had to evolve to cope with the changing face of terrorist attacks. Thirty years ago, the threat was the IRA. That organisation was home-grown, operated around a tightly structured network, gave warnings and deliberately restricted casualties, and had a negotiable political agenda. None of these factors applied to today’s terrorism, he said.
For public safety, police now had to intervene at earlier stages of planning. Law enforcement goals were sometimes overridden by the need to minimise risk. He gave as an example Operation Rhyme, in which police surveillance in 2004 of a group of men believed to be planning an attack failed to gather hard evidence.
Believing the threat was imminent, police moved in anyway, then worked against the clock to gather admissible evidence from computer hard drives and encrypted portable electronic devices. “(The leader) and seven out of the eight members pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder,” he said.
Victoria Police deputy commander Kieran Walshe told the conference that the first method of counter-terrorism should be primary prevention: stopping the radicalism and extremism from developing. “This requires intensive and good community policing,” he said.
Victoria Police had been working on community engagement for years, as had several government departments, he said. But the programs operated like “silo towers”, with each department and unit conducting its own initiatives in parallel, unaware of each other’s activities: “There is a need for a whole-of-government approach.”
While federal and state governments had provided counter-terrorism funding, this had not included money for primary prevention, he said.
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