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February 16, 2014 AT 8:14 AM
Syria's civil war has led to a new, greater threat of Islamist radicalism in Saudi Arabia that requires a more aggressive "war of ideology" on the Internet, says the man responsible for online monitoring in the kingdom. This month, King Abdullah decreed that any Saudi who goes overseas to fight faces jail terms of 3-20 years. The Saudi Ideological Security Directorate is known for keeping tabs on liberal activists and women drivers--as well as Islamist extremists. Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, the head of the unit, says its focus is turning increasingly towards those using the Internet to recruit fighters for jihad abroad. Authorities believe 1,000-2,000 of the kingdom's citizens have gone to Syria to join the war there.