Saudi Arabia is committed to doing its fair share in assuming responsibility for its own security and maintaining regional stability. For this reason, the Kingdom has taken the lead in founding the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism. The Alliance, which was founded in December 2015, is a multilateral organization dedicated to fighting terrorist organizations that are a threat to the security of member nations.
At the time of the Alliance’s original organization, the Kingdom announced that the initial group of 34 states had “decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, coordinate military efforts, exchange information, and train Alliance personnel through a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations.” This Alliance has subsequently grown to 41 nations.
The Islamic Military Alliance consists of 41 nations that are either majority-Muslim or considerable Muslim populations. It includes the nations of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Yemen, Eritrea, Oman, Afghanistan, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, and The Gambia.
The Islamic Military Alliance conducted the “North Thunder” military drill in northern Saudi Arabia in late February through early March of 2016. North Thunder featured the participation of forces representing the Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Turkey, Tunisia, Comoros, Djibouti, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, Egypt and Mauritania, in addition to the GCC’s Peninsula Shield Forces. “North Thunder” received regional and international attention as the largest ever military drill in the Middle East in terms of the number of participating forces.
On March 27, 2016, the Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces of the Alliance member countries issued the Riyadh Declaration, a statement of their joint commitment to fight terrorism. The Chiefs of Staff of the Member States avowed their determination to intensify efforts to fight terrorism and the desire of every Member State to participate in any process or program within the framework of the Islamic Military Alliance to fight terrorism. The Chiefs of Staff called for taking all necessary measures to develop polices, standards and preventive legislation to combat the finance of terrorism to enforce criminal statutes against terror financing.
In April 2017, Pakistan approved the appointment of Raheel Sharif, the retired former Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, to serve as military leader of the Islamic Military Alliance.
The Saudi Ministry of Defense has launched the Ideological Warfare Center to counter extremist ideologies that cause terrorism. The Ideological Warfare Center is a project of the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism. The IWC is staffed with experienced experts from Saudi Arabia and around the world to provide diverse perspectives on how to combat terrorism online. The Center will focus on exposing mistakes, allegations, suspicions and deceptive techniques promoted by extremists and terrorists. The IWC will also implement effective plans against ideological extremism, including promotion of moderation, tolerance, dialogue.