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‘Doctor Death’: What a Medical Professional Did in Iraq Has Some Saudis Reeling


“He believed in jihad through terrorism.”

Dr. Faisal bin Shaman Al-'Anzi posing with a knife (Image source: via MEMRI)

A Saudi medical doctor's transition to an Islamic State terrorist and suicide bomber has caused an uproar in Saudi Arabia, where there are now calls to reform the education system blamed for encouraging radicalism.

Dr. Faisal bin Shaman Al-'Anzi posing with a knife (Image source: via MEMRI) Dr. Faisal bin Shaman Al-'Anzi posing with a knife (Image source: via MEMRI)

According to reports, Dr. Faisal bin Shaman Al-'Anzi, 25, left his job to join the terror group and then carried out a suicide car bombing on July 11 at a Peshmerga checkpoint in Kirkuk, Iraq, killing at least 30.

The Middle East Media Research Institute examined the Arabic press coverage of the situation and found intense criticism of Saudi Arabai's education system for purportedly luring young Saudis to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State group.

Al-'Anzi's parents deny their son was a militant; they maintain he was working at an Islamic State medical clinic.

According to MEMRI, some Saudis are concerned the Islamic State group could expand into the kingdom, given the large numbers of Saudis traveling to Syria and Iraq and the global aspirations of the group:

Anzi's story sparked outrage in the Saudi press. Columnists asked how a doctor, who is supposed to save lives and treat people regardless of religion, race or gender, could abandon his calling and become a suicide bomber in the ranks of an organization like ISIS, whose values are diametrically opposed to those of his profession. They also stressed that the roots of the phenomenon are to be found within the institutions of Saudi society itself, from the education system and the family to the civil service and the military. The columnists urged Saudis in particular and Muslims in general to wake up and start monitoring this phenomenon, and some suggested reexamining the entire ideological and moral foundations of the Saudi state.

A columnist for a London-based Saudi daily termed the suicide bomber “Doctor Death” and blamed a “culture of hatred” for encouraging professionals like doctors and engineers to turn to terrorism.

Columnist Mishari Al-Zaidi wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, according to the MEMRI’report: “'Doctor Death' is the nickname for a doctor who abandons his practice in order to kill and fight in a civil war and in fanatical terror [wars]. The latest to earn this moniker is Saudi doctor Faisal [Al-'Anzi], who left his clinic and the care of his patients in order to join the ISIS murderers in Iraq. His latest photo, as published on, shows him leering while brandishing the famous ISIS knife.”

"[Al-'Anzi] left his job and his homeland and decided to join ISIS, [since] he believed in jihad through terrorism,” liberal columnist Halima Muzaffar wrote in the Saudi government daily Al-Watan. “This begs the question why a doctor like him, or an engineer or a teacher, would fall into such criminal thinking and accept [the idea] of killing innocent people on the claim that they are infidels?!”

“Can there be a greater error than accepting the notion of killing an innocent person who has done you no harm just because he belongs to a different religion or religious sect?! What caused this doctor to shed his humanity and become a criminal?!” Muzaffar wrote.

A columnist for the official Saudi paper Al-Jazirah (different from the Al Jazeera television network) slammed the belief of Muslim extremists that they can bring glory to Islam by blowing up innocent people.

“The main problem, which always recurs, is the demand to restore [Islam's] historic supremacy and the nourishing of the dream of restoring victory and glory to the [Muslim] ummah by blowing up people and by spreading the bloody ideology of hatred,” wrote columnist Nasser Al-Sarami.

Read the full MEMRI report here.

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