The 16-year-old Saudi who is Fighting in Syria

Since the civil war has broken in Syria, various Jihadist groups have been trying to attract young people to join their armies. The continuous reported footage of massacres over that period has provided an intense tool to mobilize thousands of ultraconservatives to join these groups; and Saudi Arabia has been one of the major sources of Jihadist fighters.

Moath, after arriving to Syria. via @twit_rima

Moath, after arriving to Syria. via @twit_rima

Last week, one particular story received major attention within the Saudi Twittersphere when a 16-year-old, Moath al-Hamili, arrived to Syria to join these groups. Moath is the son of Reema al-Jourish, who has been known for her very active role in opposing the arbitrary imprisonment of her husband, Abdullah al-Hamili, who has been imprisoned for 10 years without a court ruling. In fact, a judge issued a release order for him, but he was kept imprisoned. Back in February, al-Jourish was one of the women who participated in a very publicized sit-in, before they were arrested and imprisoned for weeks. Her family's house was under siege, and her children were prohibited from contacting anyone. Moath was also arrested when he demanded the release of his mother.

On Wednesday, al-Jourish tweeted [ar]:

@twit_rima: Thank you, Allah, for all of your blessings. My son, Moath, has arrived to Syria. I ask Allah to give him strength.

She continued:

@twit_rima: My son has been harassed within [Saudi Arabia] for supporting prisoners. I would not let him be taken easily by the tyrants. The land of dignity and glory is more merciful for him.

al-Hayat newspaper published a short story [ar] about her, in which it stated:

وقالت: «اتصلت بي مندوبة من وزارة الداخلية اسمها أم محمد، كانت تحذرني من ابني معاذ».

She said: “A representative from the Interior Ministry whose name was Um Mohammad was warning me from my son, Moath.”

al-Jourish responded to the story by tweeting:

جريدة الحياة رتبو الكلام على مايريدون وليعلم الصحفي اني سجلت الاتصال اولا مندوبة الداخليه لم تحذرني من .. ابني بل هددتني به وقالت سوف يكون بجانب والده بسجن وهددتني بإبنتي ماريه ذات ١٣ عام وقالت سوف تخسرين ابنائك..ايضا اخبرت ان ذهاب ابني لسوريا احب الي من سجون المباحث لانه راى اثار التعذيب وسمع من والده ماحصل له داخل السجون…فلا اريد ان تتكرر مأسات والده من جديد يذهب الى ارض العزة ويستنشق هواء الحريه احب الي من سجون المباحث وتعذيب..ايضالم تذكر الصحيفه ان المباحث تضايقني وتحاول جاهده ان تمارس علي صنوف التعذيب النفسي ولم تذكران زوجي صدر بحقه افراج [1][2][3][4][5]

Al-Hayat newspaper reported my statements the way they wanted. I want to let the journalist know that I have recorded the phone call. First of all, the Interior [Ministry] representative did not warn me from my son, but rather threatened me. She said that he would be next to his father in the prison. She also threatened me by mentioning my daughter. She said that I would lose them. I also told [her] that I prefer having my son in Syria to having him in prisons of the secret police. He has witnessed the effects of torture and he heard from his father what had happened to him in prison. I do not want the tragedy of his father to be repeated. I prefer having him in the land of dignity and breathing freedom than being in the prisons of the secret police under torture. The newspaper didn't also mention that the secret police also harasses me and tries to psychologically torture me. It didn't also mention that my husband has a release order.

The Twittersphere reaction was mixed. Jihadist sympathizers were excited about the news and took it as a chance to encourage more young people to join the battle. On the other hand, so many people accused the mother of recklessness and endangering the life of her son.

Nada A writes:

Worse than a woman who sends her child to die in the so-called Jihad are those who cheer for her. Where are we going?!

Several of those who had previously participated in peaceful political action have turned into these violent, ultraconservative groups after they had been arrested and sentenced to prison. Currently-imprisoned member of the defiant Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) Mohammad al-Qahtani has even reported that the Interior Ministry encourages prisoners to go fight in Syria:

@MFQahtani: A new scandal for the Saudi Interior Ministry: They offered to release some young prisoners who were arrested for demonstrating if they agreed to go to fight in Syria.

Furthermore, ACPRA member Abdullah al-Hamid has also reported similar incidences by judges:

@Abubelal_1951: The mother of Mohammad al-Talaq, who was killed in Syria, said in her letter to the king: Judge al-Husni warned my son and his 19 fellow demonstrators from demonstrating and incited them to fight the Shiite there [in Syria]!


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