Riyadh is keen to demonstrate that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, a former ambassador says.
With one terror suspect already deported from Saudi Arabia and another awaiting transfer, the Indian-Saudi counterterrorism alliance continues to become more robust.
In June, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) suspect Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, aka Abu Hamza, was arrested at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi following his deportation from Saudi Arabia, where he had spent a year in custody.
Now, Delhi is awaiting the imminent handover of Fasih Mahmood, 35, suspected of involvement in the 2010 Jama Masjid bomb blast. A native of Darbhanga in the eastern state of Bihar, he has been held in Saudi Arabia since May at India's urging. According to Indian Additional Solicitor General Gourab Banerjee, his extradition papers are being processed and will be completed "in due course".
"We are grateful to the Saudi government for their co-operation," S.M. Krishna, Minister for External Affairs told Khabar South Asia. "They are removing all stops to help us try terrorists wanted in India. They are sending a strong signal that Saudi Arabia will not be a safe haven for terrorists."
Jaswant Singh, former Minister for External Affairs, told Khabar that Saudi Arabia's tough stance against terror was sparked by the September 11th, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC.
"Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 bombings were Saudis," Singh said. "In the months following that tragedy I noticed a new vigour against terrorists among Saudi and other Arab officials."
Actions taken by other Arab states also influenced the Saudis, he added.
"Even without a formal extradition treaty, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government had acceded to India's request to hand over [accused terrorist] Aftab Ansari (the principal accused in the January 2002 attack on the American Center in Kolkata). Therefore, the Saudis are not keen on being perceived as laggards."
Co-operation between India and Saudi Arabia in fighting terror dates back to 2002 when then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani paid a visit to Riyadh. Development of an extradition treaty took eight years and was eventually signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's March 2010 visit.
At that time, Singh and Saudi King Abdullah made a joint declaration on combatting terrorism. Other agreements regarding defence, security and energy were also signed.
A former Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ishrat Aziz, told Khabar the Mideast nation has chosen sides.
"Saudi Arabia sees itself as a frontline state in the war on terrorism," Aziz said. "They are out to scotch all speculation that being an Islamic state it has a policy of ambivalence towards Islamic fundamentalism.
"They are clear on the point that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam," he said.