DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Al Qaeda’s cell in Saudi Arabia sees young men as easy prey who can be persuaded to stay in the organization with threats, two repentant militants said in confessions aired Tuesday night on national television.
Saudi television’s Channel One aired what it called “Special Facts from Inside the Cell,” a documentary featuring the confessions of terror suspects Khaled al-Juwaiser al-Farraj and Abdul Rahman al-Roshoud.
Al-Farraj was arrested in January after a raid on his Riyadh house that left six security agents dead. It was not immediately clear when al-Roshoud was arrested, but he is believed to be a relative of Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud, who is listed as 24th among Saudi Arabia’s most wanted men.
“Young ones were recruited because they do not have sufficient knowledge of the religion or a wise mind that can tell right from wrong,” al-Roshoud said.
Al-Farraj said cell leaders terrorized the recruits “by making them feel that they are stuck.”
“Once you were in, they would say, ‘That’s it, you have to remain with us or else you will be arrested or killed’ ” by Saudi security forces, he said. “Many youths joined the group unconvinced, and I know people who said they wanted out but were afraid.”
Al-Roshoud said that the cell leaders would paint a “horrible picture” of how the militants would be treated should they be detained.
Neither man said how he had been treated since being arrested. Their ages were not given, but they appeared to be in their 30s.
The program, viewed via satellite in Dubai, did not give the specific accusations against the two men. The show appeared to be a further attempt by the Saudi kingdom to persuade those considering the militant path to instead choose moderation.
Saudi Arabia offered a monthlong amnesty that expired in July to encourage wanted militants to surrender. Authorities pledged not to seek the death penalty against those who did, but only four men turned themselves in. None of them was considered a hardcore militant.
The documentary showed moving footage of mangled cars and buildings destroyed by various terror attacks as well as images of victims covered in blood. The 13-minute program was followed by a panel of analysts discussing al Qaeda tactics and means to fight the network.
Saudi Arabia has waged a public relations campaign to rally the public against militants, who have carried out several attacks inside the kingdom that have killed Saudis, other Arabs and Westerners living and working in Saudi Arabia.
Suicide bombings, gunbattles and kidnappings targeting foreign workers have been blamed on al Qaeda and sympathizers of the anti-Western terror network headed by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.
Al-Farraj and al-Roshoud said the terror cell included a military wing, a media committee, a religious council and a forging team that made fake identification papers.