A leaked internal memo shows how Saudi officials commuted 1,200 death row inmates under the condition they go and fight against Assad in Syria, according to the Assyrian International News Agency.
From the memo:
We have reached an agreement with them that they will be exempted from the death sentence and given a monthly salary to their families and loved ones, who will be prevented from travelling outside Saudi Arabia in return for rehabilitation of the accused and their training in order to send them to Jihad in Syria.
Saudi officials apparently gave them a choice: decapitation or jihad? In total, inmates from Yemen, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, and Kuwait chose to go and fight in Syria.
The news agency AINA also reported that an unnamed Iraqi official said Russia objected to the Saudi’s decision to release the prisoners. Russia has several military contracts with Bashar al Assad and has continuously vetoed U.N. measures aimed at ousting the embattled leader; although their official position is not overt support of Assad, but rather to uphold the sovereignty of a nation.
The Saudis and Americans have collaborated in several different military and paramilitary excursions, including hosting Desert Storm in 1991, and weapons deals with Libya rebels. Often, these collaborations include support for hardened Islamic fighters.