It has become clear that al-Qaeda no longer has enough human resources, after a number of countries — including Saudi Arabia — have worked to dry up its recruiting. As a result, the organization has resorted to marrying off its male members to young female peasants in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and urging them to have children — thus ensuring that they remain within the realm of the organization.
This is especially useful given that many countries prevent their citizens from returning home with foreign wives without prior authorization. Moreover, such marriages usually take place in a primitive manner without identification papers. The children are always the victims here, and are born almost without an identity.
If a wanted Saudi al-Qaeda member considers returning to the right path and turning himself in to the authorities of his country, a foreign wife constitutes a major obstacle to doing this. He would fear that his sons, who live with him in areas of strife and conflict, may intellectually deviate from him and fall into the trap of al-Qaeda.
Sources have told Al-Hayat that al-Qaeda’s strategy includes providing accommodations to group members and facilitating their marriages to foreign women, making it difficult for them to return to the right path.
The defected member — who is living in an area of strife and conflict — would make sure that his family returns to Saudi Arabia with him when he decides to turn himself in. However, it could be the case that the foreign wife does not consent to leave with him when he goes home to surrender and prefers to stay in her country. Then, the wife holds onto the children or informs the organization's leaders through her family of her husband's attempt to defect from al-Qaeda’s ranks. This possibility would force some of the group’s members to stay in the area.
Informed sources — whose names have been withheld — told Al-Hayat over the phone that the strategies of the different branches of al-Qaeda include accommodating the members by facilitating their marriage to families in the remote and poor villages in which the organization lives and works. These marriages are very basic, only requiring that two witnesses be present at the ceremony.
The sources said that arranging for the marriage of those who had joined al-Qaeda is an essential issue for the group’s leaders, since it ensures them that the member will not return to his senses after his mind has been contaminated with takfiri ideas about disobeying his guardians. This is especially true given that the member has likely traveled long distances from his country to al-Qaeda’s headquarters, achieved either by using a fake passport, infiltrating into a country through land borders or meeting people who facilitated his entrance into al-Qaeda after he left his family. In some cases, some of these people leave their wives and children behind in Saudi Arabia.
The sources added, “The marriage of al-Qaeda members in villages close to strife and conflict zones ensures that the defected member will not turn himself in to his country, after having become familiar with the organization’s plans and the ideas devised by its suicide bombers.”
The sources pointed out that a member who rejects al-Qaeda would try to correct the ideology of his family and sons who are with him before considering turning himself in. He would think about the fate of the children who carry his name, especially since their father had fallen into the al-Qaeda swamp as a result of wrong fatwas. Thus, the sons become easy targets to recruit into the organization.
The sources added, “The wives of a number of al-Qaeda members refused to go back with them to their countries when they turned themselves in to security authorities, after having married. And others were injured and did not receive medical care, and thus became trapped between returning to their countries and leaving behind their children as conscripts in the ranks of al-Qaeda.”
The sources noted that women in these areas are married off lacking formal identification documents. Thus, it would be difficult for the defected member to take his wife back with him to his home country in the event that he turns himself in to the authorities. She would not be able to leave the country because she lacks any identifying documents.
The sources said that some elements in the organization are not able to check on their families and ensure their wellbeing, since they are following al-Qaeda’s agenda. This agenda involves schemes which they work to implement — be it a suicide attack or a bomb plot in another country — and the members often gather in the mountains for long periods of time without their families.
“The wife of a member will remain with her husband for a long time in the event that her husband gets injured and requires medical care and must stay home. In the meantime, his friends — who drove him to adopt takfiri ideology — abandon him and do not provide him with any medical care, regardless of his position or importance within the organization,” the sources added.
The sources said that a leading al-Qaeda leader lost an eye and his foot was amputated, and another (a Saudi national) is paralyzed in half of his body due to a gunshot to the spine. Neither received any medical attention, which forced them to surrender themselves to their countries’ authorities and give up information about al-Qaeda.
The sources added: “Bringing back Saudis from areas of strife and conflict costs the state politically and financially. Still, the authorities make every effort to return their sons. After their arrival, [the Saudi government] works to ensure their rehabilitation, care and reintegration into society, so that they can become good citizens.”