1998 News Story

Arab ministers sign anti-terrorism agreement

Interior Minister Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz, who chaired the conference of Arab Ministers of the Interior and of Justice which was held today at the headquarters of the League of Arab States in Cairo, has, together with Justice Minister Dr. Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Al-Assheikh, signed on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia an Arab agreement on combating terrorism. 

The agreement comprises 42 articles in four main chapters.  The first chapter defines terrorism and its associated crimes, and differentiates these from armed struggle against foreign occupation.  It goes on to differentiate between political crime and terrorist crime, with none of the following considered political:  aggression against monarchs, their wives and relatives;  aggression against crown princes, presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, ministers, ambassadors, and international envoys;  armed robbery of individuals, authorities, and vehicular conveyances;  and damage to public property.  With ratification of this agreement, the Arab states have confirmed their joint desire to step up cooperation in the area of fighting terrorist crimes.  Furthermore, the agreement stipulates extradition of terrorists, exchange of information and expertise, judicial cooperation and protection of witnesses. 
Arab League Secretary-General Ismat Abdel Meguid told the inaugural session that the agreement was exemplary and should be considered as a model for other areas of cooperation, stressing in particular that it allows Arab states to deal with a number of terrorists who are taking refuge abroad.  Following the meeting, the ministers issued a communique which was read at a press conference by Secretary-General of the Arab Interior Ministerial Council Dr. Ahmed Ibn Mohammad Al-Salem, and which stated:  "The agreement was signed today in an atmosphere of full brotherly understanding and comes at a time when we are in need of enhancing and developing coordination and cooperation among our Arab countries in order to fight terrorist groups."
On his arrival in Cairo, Interior Minister Prince Nayef explained that the accord will in due course be endorsed by the governments of each signatory.   He went on to say:  "Not only we, the ministers of interior and justice, but the entire Arab world, take pleasure that this Arab agreement has been reached."  The Saudi Interior Minister expressed the hope that other states throughout the word will emulate what has been done by the Arabs.  As for Arab cooperation with terrorists who are being offered refugee status in certain foreign countries, he said that the meeting would deal with this issue, and affirmed that a joint stance would have greater impact than a unilateral one from each Arab state. Expressing optimism over the implementation of the agreement, Prince Nayef said that Arab media and thinkers should shoulder the responsibility for generating awareness that terrorism is against Islam, adding that they should also work to bring about its end.
In his speech at the conference, Prince Nayef underlined the necessity of fighting anything which could disturb Arab security, saying that terrorism is a dangerous disease and against all beliefs, values, norms and ideals.  He expressed the inevitability of promoting cooperation in the sphere of combating terrorism, adding:  "There is a need for an accurate mechanism to activate Arab cooperation in this field."   He called on all countries worldwide to promote cooperation in combating terrorism and reiterated that the Islamic Shari'ah rejects all types of violence.