KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwaitis who fight in conflicts abroad such as Syria or encourage such actions should face up to 30 years in jail, a Kuwaiti lawmaker said in a proposed law modeled on penalties introduced in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi royal decree published last week said any citizen who fought abroad would face from three to 20 years in jail, in an apparent move to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria and then posing a security risk once they return home.
In his proposal, which praised the Saudi decree, Kuwaiti MP Nabeel al-Fadl said civilians should face 5-20 years behind bars. Members of the National Guard or police could face 10-30 years in jail for fighting abroad or promoting such actions.
The plan would need the approval of the ruling emir, government and parliament to become law.
“Over the past two decades, Kuwait has suffered the loss of its sons in Afghanistan and Chechnya after instigators managed to delude them and sent them to fight under what they described as religious justifications,” Fadl said in his proposal, published on the National Assembly’s website on Monday.
Kuwait needs to alter its penal code in the ways suggested in order to maintain the security and safety of the Gulf, “especially after the emergence of militant groups and currents with purposes far from Islamic law,” the proposal said.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry estimates some 1,200 Saudis have joined Islamist militants involved in Syria’s civil war.
The Saudi decree underscores concerns of young Saudis hardened by battle coming home to target the ruling royal family - as happened after the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Unlike Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Kuwait has not directly supported the arming of fighters against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has opted instead to organize humanitarian aid.
Kuwaiti citizens, however, have used the Gulf state’s more open political environment to collect money for arming rebel fighters in private campaigns.
Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Gareth Jones