The News Minute | November 5, 2014 | 10:10 pm IST
Riyadh: The number of Saudis involved in terrorist activities has declined sharply since a royal decree against such activities, Saudi Arabian interior ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Turki said Wednesday.
According to Al-Turki, the number of Saudis who fought alongside rebels in conflict zones in neighbouring countries was not more than 1,500 and most of them have been killed, the Saudi Gazette reported.
Addressing the 17th International Conference and Exhibition on Industrial Security that kicked off in this Saudi capital Monday, the spokesman said the number represents all extremist Saudis who went to Syria since 2011.
He also said that the number of Saudis returning home from areas of armed conflict has increased.
A royal decree was issued last year to punish anyone who belongs to or supports terrorist organisations and Al-Turki said the number of Saudi terrorists has declined by 50 percent since then.
The spokesman also stated that people jailed for embracing deviant thoughts have been separated from normal prisoners so that the latter are not influenced.
"The fact that the number of the Saudi extremists has dropped by about a half is due to the increasing enlightenment of the citizens and concerted efforts of the ministry," Al-Turki was quoted as saying.
The spokesman confirmed reports that Saudis constitute a sizeable number in Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group but said these citizens went to Iraq and Syria as they could not find a safe haven in Saudi Arabia.
He said that since 2002, Saudi Arabia has adopted a comprehensive strategy to deal with terrorists.
"The strategy is based on drying up the resources of terrorists, giving them religious advice to help them return to the correct fold of Islam and protecting citizens against deviant thoughts," Al-Turki said.