Saudi Arabia: Instant banishment for expatriate 'threats'

Saudi Arabia: Instant banishment for expatriate 'threats'
Analysis: Permanent expulsion for expatriates is the latest in Riyadh's burgeoning legislative arsenal of security measures.
2 min read
08 May, 2015
Saudi police search a suspect vehicle [Getty]
The Saudi Interior Ministry has threatened to immediately "banish" any foreign national it deems a threat to the country's security. The ministry will not have to provide justification, officials said.

According to a source at the Saudi Department of Immigration, "banishment" is different from "deportation":

"We routinely receive instructions to deport expatriates without a stated reason. But banishment is something else. Those who are deported can return to the country after two to five years; once banished, an individual may never come back."

The proscribed list

The new expulsion measure comes on top of a range of other recent security moves.

Early last year, Riyadh published a list of "terrorist" organisations, including the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, the Houthis of Yemen and Saudi Hizballah.

Sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed that more groups would be added, including Lebanese Hizballah - though there are thought to be a number of supporters of the Lebanese group resident in the country.

The Saudis have been prosecuting anyone caught fighting abroad for proscribed groups since a royal decree was issued in the middle of last year. Culprits can be sentenced with up to 20 years' imprisonment.

The same decree also applies to anyone supporting or belonging to proscribed religious or ideological groups, or indeed any group classified as "terrorist" anywhere in the world.

It is also an offence to express sympathy with such groups in any form, to provide them with material or moral support or encouragement, or to promote them in any way and via any medium.

Nearly two months ago, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced that the number of Saudi nationals fighting for such proscribed groups in Iraq and Syria was 2,284.

Of these, 645 have since reportedly come back home.

There was not enough evidence to verify Saudi casualties in Syria and Iraq, said ministry spokesman Major-General Mansur al-Turki.

"The Interior Ministry continues to follow up on reports circulated about Saudi casualties in countries witnessing conflict," he added.