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26 November 2007

To make room for more rape victims in prison, Saudis release 1,500 Jihadists after they promise not to attack Saudi Arabia

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, waging a crackdown on Islamist militants that has lasted for more than four years, has released some 1,500 jailed suspects after they "repented," a newspaper said on Sunday. The 1,500 were among about 3,200 militants with whom representatives of a government-appointed "advice committee" met around 5,000 times since it was formed three years ago, Al-Watan said, quoting committee member Mohammad al-Nujaimi.

The paper did not clarify if the remaining 1,700 detainees had refused to renounce the ideology of "taqfir" - branding other Muslims as apostates or infidels in order to legitimize violence against them.

The ideology is espoused by some militants who advocate the use of force to overthrow regimes deemed corrupt or unrepresentative and to establish a single Islamic state.

Nujaimi said the 1,500 militants who changed their views had renounced Saudi-born Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's call on his followers to "cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of polytheists."

The advice committee is comprised of more than 100 Islamic scholars, preachers and experts in Sharia law, in addition to 30 psychologists and social workers, the paper said.

Saudi Arabia has cracked down on suspected Al-Qaeda militants since they launched a series of deadly bombings and shootings in the oil-rich kingdom in May 2003. - AFP

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