Saudi Arabia warned its citizens against sending money to Syria outside of government-approved organizations, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said, citing a statement from the Interior Ministry.
Funds sent through unofficial channels may reach “suspicious destinations,” the ministry said, without providing further details. Saudi citizens may also be subject to fraud if they donate money outside of authorized agencies, it said.
Saudi Arabia is trying to prevent its citizens from going to Syria or spending money outside official channels to help the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The fighting in Syria has evolved along largely sectarian lines, with many in the Sunni majority supporting the rebels while Assad draws support mainly from his Alawite community.
The prospect of combat-trained Saudi militants returning to the kingdom recalls the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Saudis with al-Qaeda links used skills developed there to attack the Al Saud family’s control of the world’s largest conventional oil reserves, and its alliance with the U.S.
The numbers of Saudi men going to Syria to fight “aren’t big,” Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki told reporters today. Determining the number of Saudi fighters in Syria was difficult, he said.
Citizens and residents can send money though the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, the Muslim World League and the International Islamic Relief Organization of Saudi Arabia, which are the “official bodies authorized to provide assistance to the affected Syrian people,” the ministry said. ’
The Saudi government started a telethon in July last year to raise funds for Syrian refugees. It has also delivered aid to camps in Jordan.