Saudi offers terror amnesty

The offer comes less than a week after security forces shot dead a leading figure in the al-Qaeda terror network.

The amnesty offer was announced in a television address by Crown Prince Abdullah on the king’s behalf.

It is being extended to al-Qaeda militants not directly involved in recent killings and bombings, because Saudi Arabia says those with blood on their hands can expect no leniency.

Saudi officials say Prince Abdullah’s message is aimed at bringing lower-level sympathisers of al-Qaeda network back into the fold, before they commit acts of violence.

The Crown Prince’s statement said the militants have one last chance to return to God.

He said: “We are declaring for the last time that we are opening the door for amnesty and forgiveness to everybody who went astray and committed a crime in the name in the religion.

“To everyone in that group who hasn’t been caught during the police operations, there is a new chance for you to give yourself up voluntarily within a maximum period of one-month, starting today.”

The address came five days after security forces shot dead al-Qaeda’s local chief, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, and three associates who had apparently beheaded a US hostage in the latest of a spate of attacks on Westerners in the kingdom.

Security forces have yet to recover the body of aeronautics engineer Paul Johnson, shown beheaded in photos posted on websites by Muqrin’s group, which calls itself “al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.”

Al-Qaeda and affiliates, blamed for a wave of suicide bombings in the capital since May 2003, have claimed responsibility for the successive attacks that have targeted Westerners since last month.

Some 90 people have been killed and hundreds wounded during the violence.

More than 700 suspected Islamist militants are believed to have been rounded up over the past 13 months.

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