Why the Saudis deported Abu Jundal

The Saudi govt seems to have developed a significant mistrust of the radical elements among the Salafis

In A recent interview to the Karachi-based Ummat, Hafiz Saeed described the two years he spent at King Saud University in Riyadh as the "turning point" in his life. He described the "deep impression" left on him by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baaz, the then Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who had mentored Osama bin Laden as well. "If I had not met him (Sheikh Bin Baaz), perhaps the idea of setting up Jama'at-ud-Da'wah would not have come to me,'' he recalled. "In fact, Sheikh Bin Baaz had set up an institution... to preach Islam across the world. I was so influenced by this institution that I decided to set up a similar institution in Pakistan. Thus, in 1985, I laid the foundation of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah."

Over the years, Saeed's group has received support from Saudi Arabia, especially because of his Salafi credentials and strong links to the kingdom's powerful Salafi clergy. Since the beginning of militancy in Kashmir, top militant commanders have travelled freely to Saudi on pilgrimage, held important meetings and raised funds. The Saudi government's Kashmir stance hasn't been proactive, but the balance has tilted towards Islamabad.

Two recent incidents involving Indians in Saudi suggest this might be changing. On May 13, Fasih Mehmood, an engineer from Bihar, was picked up by Saudi security personnel allegedly accompanied by Indian officials from his home in Jubail. In the last week of May, a Red Corner Notice was issued, alleging his involvement in anti-national activities.

Syed Zabiuddin Ansari, suspected to be a key player behind 26/11, was arrested by the Saudis last summer. Though they agreed to deport him only after they were convinced of his identity and nationality, handing over Ansari is in itself a gamechanging step. Even if Riyadh continues to dodge New Delhi's requests to arrest Pakistani nationals wanted in terror cases in India, Ansari's deportation is likely to act as a deterrence to the suspects' entry into the kingdom.

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