State Security Presidency
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist killed in disputed circumstances in his country's consulate in Istanbul, came amid a wave of arrests that targeted clerics, human rights advocates and members of Saudi Arabia's intelligentsia. The crackdown was largely led by the powerful security apparatus known as the State Security Presidency [raeash amn aldolh].
On 21 July 2017, King Salman issued a royal decree that established the State Security Presidency [SSP], a new entity reporting directly to the king, meant to consolidate “the counterterrorism and domestic intelligence services” and “all matters related to state security, … combatting terrorism, and financial investigations,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The move was based on a proposal submitted by late Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to restructure the Ministry of Interior and set up a new department in charge of national security.
The law provides that judges are independent and not subject to any authority other than the provisions of sharia and the laws in force. Nevertheless, the judiciary, the PPO, and the SSP were not independent entities, as they were required to coordinate their decisions with executive authorities, with the king and crown prince as arbiters.
The Minister of Interior recommended the establishment of the Presidency of State Security to deal with whatever concerns the Security of the State, under the authority of the Prime Minister. The royal decree stipulates that all security institutions should be linked to the State Security Presidency. The royal decree transferred from the Ministry of Interior the Directorate General of Intelligence, Special Security Forces, Special Emergency Forces, General Security Aviation Command, General Administration for Technical Affairs, and National Information Center to the newly-established the Presidency for State Security, and all related functions of the Presidency, including combating terrorism and its financing and financial investigations. Police, traffic, and the General Directorate of Passports remained under the Ministry of Interior.
General Abdulaziz Bin Muhammad Al-Huwairini was appointed as Chief of State Security with the rank of minister. He continued in his post as Director General of General Intelligence. The Saudi king appointed the Minister of Interior as member of the Council for Political and Security Affairs and named Abdullah Abdulkareem bin Abdulaziz Al-Isa as Assistant Chief of State Security in the rank of minister. The Chief of State Security shall be a member of the Council for Political and Security Affairs.
Concerns of security of the State, including civil and military personnel, budgets, documents, and information will also be transferred to the new authority. The necessary review of laws, regulations and cooperation should be followed. The royal order will be carried out with immediate effect by the concerned authorities.
H.E. Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis commended the Royal order issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to establish a new apparatus named ‘Presidency of State Security’, which is linked to chairman of the council of ministers. Dr. Al-Ghafis said it will contribute to development of security sectors, as well as leaving positive impact on economic, social and civilizational development and its sustainability and raising the effectiveness of performance and growth in various sectors. The minister stressed that the presidency of state security which combines a number of state-of-the-art security and information bodies will achieve utmost levels of security through combating terrorism and investigating its sources of financing, which adds more confidence to various sectors. The minister pointed out that the development and enhancement of security system will make business sectors more productive and effective, in addition to supporting the continuity of development programs, initiatives and projects that leave profound effect on Saudi citizens in various regions.
Royal orders and decisions issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman from time to time reaffirm the keenness of the monarch to keep pace with local and international changes at all levels, said Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad in a statement on 23 July 2017. The objective is to raise the level of performance of state departments and provide the best services to citizens, expatriates and visitors to the two holy mosques, he said.
These orders are in conformity with Vision 2030 announced by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense. Among these is the royal order to set up the Presidency of State Security as an independent authority that is linked directly with the Prime Minister so as to give it the ability to focus on the security of the nation, citizens and expatriates and counter terrorism, spying and ideological invasion of all kinds using the best international means and methods in terms of security and information. This is apart from monitoring financing.
These measures will shorten many bureaucratic procedures in decision-making and enable speedy response with firmness and determination to counter any hostile intentions against the nation. These measures will enable the Presidency to communicate with the related regional and international authorities and develop its tools and raise efficiency so as to ensure precision in implementation and follow up, the minister said. They will enable specifying the functions of state security in pertinent sectors by dealing with matters in the field, which were the functions of the Ministry of Interior.
This will help the Ministry of Interior devote its time and efforts in providing civil services to the civil society and safeguard the developmental gains, disseminate the culture of respecting the law and protect civil rights and safety for citizens through public security agencies including the police, traffic police, civil defence, Passports Department, Drug Combat Department and other agencies. The aim is also to raise efficiency and speedy completion of work in the services provided to citizens and expatriates.
The Ministry of Interior is a member in all the economic, commercial, development, security and social committees. The establishment of the Presidency of State Security will enable the ministry to focus on the development and social aspects. The separation of the two sectors will have a positive economic impact, as there will be rationalization of spending and increase of revenues, by providing better services and ideal use of resources by putting a limit to traffic accidents that claim thousands of lives every year. There is dire need to decrease the number of lives lost in traffic accidents and treatment expenses on the injured and protecting properties.
With regard to the establishment of the state security Apparatus, the Ministry of the Interior has done a distinctive job for citizens since its establishment until the beginning of the nineties with regard to police, traffic, passports and other services. With the emergence of the phenomenon of terrorism in the nineties, the Ministry of the Interior took all the necessary measures in the fight against terrorism, which led to some sort of a disbalance that affected some services such as traffic, police and passports.
The establishment of the State Security Apparatus will enable the Interior Ministry to provide the best services for the citizens and residents in all its sectors. The State Security apparatus will be able to focus on combating terrorism and monitoring its funding. The State Security apparatus will be able to communicate with external stakeholders and be more efficient.
The establishment of the state security apparatus has an economic impact that rationalizes the state expenditure, increases revenues, achieves the economic growth of the Kingdom, and creates competitiveness in the Saudi economy. The export growth and import substitution will improve the Kingdom's balance of payments and reduce dependence on overseas imports.
The SSP, to which the majority of forces with arrest powers reported, maintained broad authority in law and in practice to arrest and detain persons indefinitely without judicial oversight, notification of charges against them, or effective access to legal counsel or family. Authorities held persons for months and sometimes years without charge or trial and reportedly failed to advise them promptly of their rights, including their legal right to be represented by an attorney.
The king, the SSP, and the Ministries of Defense and Interior, in addition to the Ministry of National Guard, are responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order. The SSP and Ministry of Interior exercise primary control over internal security and police forces. The civil police and the internal security police have authority to arrest and detain individuals. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over security forces, and the government had mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. Military and security courts investigated abuses of authority and security force killings. The UN Committee against Torture noted that the lack of frequent investigations into abuses by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) created a climate of impunity.
Ministry of Interior and SSP police and security forces were generally effective at maintaining order. The Board of Grievances (“Diwan al-Mazalim”), a high-level administrative judicial body that hears cases against government entities and reports directly to the king, is the only formal mechanism available to seek redress for claims of abuse. Citizens may report abuses by security forces at any police station, to the HRC, or to the NSHR. The HRC and NSHR maintained records of complaints and outcomes, but privacy laws protected information about individual cases, and information was not publicly available. During the year the Board of Grievances held hearings and adjudicated claims of wrongdoing, but there were no reported prosecutions of security force members for human rights violations. The HRC, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, provided materials and training to police, other security forces, the Ministry of Defense, and the CPVPV on protecting human rights.
During the year 2017 the SSP stated it had detained numerous individuals for terrorist acts. On January 31, local media reported there were 5,094 detainees in intelligence prisons across the kingdom, of whom 84 percent were Saudis.
There were reports during the year 2017 of extrajudicial detentions of senior members of the royal family and businesspersons. On November 4, King Salman issued a royal decree forming a new Supreme Anti-Corruption Committee. The royal decree exempted committee members -- which included the crown prince, attorney general, and head of the SSP -- from “all laws, regulations, instructions, orders, and decisions” that would impede anticorruption efforts. During the course of the campaign, which was ongoing at year’s end, the government announced the detention of more than 200 individuals. Some of them reportedly negotiated financial settlements in exchange for their release, and it was expected that a number of others would instead elect to go to trial. At year’s end no public trials had taken place.
The State Security Presidency announced 19 January 2018 the size of the terrorist attacks and crimes that the Kingdom has been subjected to for 21 years. The security forces have been able to thwart them. Some terrorist groups are targeting the overthrow of the Kingdom and its development plans as the stronghold of the Arab and Islamic world. The official account of "Saudi Deterrence" published the results of the terrorist attacks that targeted the Kingdom during the past 21 years, pointing out that 55 tons of TNT were seized equivalent to the explosive force 4.5 on the Richter scale.
The Saudi deterrent said that during the past 21 years, the kingdom has witnessed 1,096 terrorist attacks, of which 863 were successful, while security forces thwarted the rest of the operations. These terrorist attacks resulted in the deaths of 3007 victims and the martyrdom of 333 security personnel, while 13,000 victims were saved due to these operations. Saudi security also eliminated 695 terrorists, injured 346 others, seized 4529 weapons, 450 grenades, 3 SAM rockets, 374 RPGs, 241 explosive belts and 47 tons of explosives.
The security forces were able to protect 4000 buildings from the destruction resulting from criminal terrorist operations that target the security and stability of the Kingdom, thus avoiding losses of up to 13 billion riyals. The terrorists also targeted the hijacking of aircraft belonging to the Kingdom, which amounted to 9 cases of abduction. The Air Force managed to treat four of them in the Kingdom, while the number of victims of hijacking aircraft 63 cases over the past 21 years.
Through the Presidency of State Security, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on May 31, 2018 designated senior members of the Hizballah leadership by declaring ten names, five of whom belong to members of the Hizballah Shoura Council, which is part of its decision-making body. Specifically, they are: Hassan Nasrallah, Naim Qasim, Muhammad Yazbak, Husayn Khalil, and Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid. The five other names are associated with supporting the activities of the terrorist organization, and they are: Talal Hamiyah, Ali Youssef Charara, Spectrum Group, Hassan Ebrahimi, and Maher Trading. This declaration comes pursuant to the Kingdom’s Law of Combating the Crimes of Terrorism and it's Financing, issued by Royal Order No. (A/21), which is in accordance with UN resolution 1373 (2001), which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. This classification was decided in partnership with the United States of America, which is co-chair of Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), in addition to all the other members of the TFTC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
The Kingdom, in partnership with its allies at the TFTC, will continue to work to halt the destabilizing influence of Hizballah and Iran by targeting their leaders. Hizballah is a global terrorist organization, whose leaders show no distinction between their military and political wing, and thus the Center rejects the erroneous distinction between the so-called political wing and the terrorist and military activities of Hizballah. Along with its sponsor Iran, Hizballah continues to prolong the human suffering in Syria, as well as, fueling violence in Iraq and Yemen, endangering Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and destabilizing the entire region.
In light of the action, all property and interests in property of all designated individuals and entities that are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or in the possession or control of KSA persons must be blocked and reported to the relevant authorities. The Law of Combating the Crimes of Terrorism and it's Financing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia generally prohibits all dealings by Saudi persons or within (or transiting) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
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