Saudi Arabia's Export Of Radical Islam, Part 1
16 Jan, 2007
Over the last week, several items in the world news have highlighted the problem of Saudi Arabia, a supposed ally in the War on Terror, funding mosques which promote the same extremism and calls for jihad which create terror. There is a certain hypocrisy about the Saudis exporting any form of Islam abroad, as the undemocratic kingdom prohibits any symbols of other faiths from being imported. Crucifixes, Bibles are forbidden. Guest workers proliferate in the kingdom, but if any attempt to hold Christian prayer and worship, they are jailed.
Saudi Arabia is listed by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as one of the "countries of particular concern", for its violations. Under the terms of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), Saudi Arabia is placed on a watch list by the US State Department. In September 2005, Eritrea became the first nation to be given sanctions under the terms of the IRFA yet Saudi Arabia, whose repression equals Eritrea, was given a 180 day "waiver", to allow it time for "continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues."
Even for Muslims in Saudi Arabia, strict Wahhabism denies people basic rights. A Salafist doctrine, it was originated in 1744 by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), who used violent enforcers called muttawa, mutawi or mutawi'oon to ensure obedience. Nowadays these muttawa, or religious policemen, enact the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. The muttawa are draconian, causing 15 schoolgirls to die on Monday, March 11, 2002 when a fire broke out at a girl's school dormitory. Several girls tried to escape the burning building, but were met by members of the muttawa, who found the girls not dressed in appropriate attire. They beat the girls to send them back into the flames. The muttawa also prevented fireman from approaching to deal with the conflagration
The muttawa's powers were slightly reduced in May 2006, but their repression continues. On June 6, 2006 a 70-year old Saudi woman was placed in jail because she went into a shop where only a male shopkeeper was present. The elderly and disabled woman was arrested by muttawa because she had been "in close proximity to a man" (“khalwat”).
The muttawa are involved in destroying national monuments which had survived since the time of Mohammed, lest they become places of pilgrimage. In 1998, the grave of Amina bint Wahb (Mohammed’s mother) was destroyed. The house of Khadija, Mohammed's first wife, has been replaced with lavatories. Only 20 structures from the time of Islam's prophet now remain. (picture).
Saudi Wahabbism evolved with the expansionist ambitions of the al-Saud tribe, who now comprise the Saudi "Royal" family, and hold all the important positions in the so-called government. Were in not for Saudi oil reserves, the kingdom would be written off as a tin-pot dictatorship of the worst order. Yet this repressive apology for a nation, where the victim of a gang-rape was subjected to a punishment of 90 lashes in November 2006, exports its backwards ideology throughout the world.
In southern Adelaide, Australia, construction of Park Holme mosque halted this month, because the foreign minister, Alexander Downer ordered that the Saudi government should not be funding the building. The mosque had been a haunt of immigrant Warya Kanie, who was captured in Iraq last year, fighting against the coalition.
Downer said: "There has been concern internationally, not specifically to Australia, about some elements in Saudi Arabia which is the heartland of Wahhabism and Sufism... trying to spread that particular extremist interpretation of Islam. Historically the Saudi Arabian Government has provided funding (to overseas mosques), I'm not saying there's anything illegitimate about that... but we can obviously express a view to the Saudi Arabian government."
Downer appears to confuse Sufism, an apolitical form of Islam with Salafism, a rigid and orthodox expression of the faith.
This month, the government in Italy announced that it would be introducing monitoring of foreign donations to Islamic schools and mosques. Giuliana Amato, the interior minister said he had little control over money entering the country, particularly from foreign governments. He said: "There's something I don't like about it. In the future, I want to understand who is financing what."
In 2005 the Saudi royal family approved plans to construct 4,500 Islamic seminaries or madrassas in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The cost of this operation is an estimated $35 million. The aim of these madrassas is to promote "modern and liberal education with Islamic values".
An examination of Saudi Arabia's "modern and liberal" education was published in Spring, 2006 by Freedom House, entitled Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance. This report analyzed textbooks in Saudi schools which maintained that "Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believer'' and that the "clash between the two realms is perpetual". Students were told not to greet, befriend, imitate or respect unbelievers. Spreading Islam through jihad was said to be a "religious duty". These textbooks are employed in the education of 5 million children in 25,000 schools in Saudi Arabia, and at hundreds of schools abroad.
Earlier, another report was published by Freedom House in the winter of 2004-5, entitled "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques". Volunteer researchers were sent to 15 US mosques, and gathered more than 200 books and publications. The majority of these tracts were written in Arabic. These told worshippers to reject Christianity, as "churches are houses of God and that God is worshiped therein is an infidel."
The publications also told people to hate their non-Muslim servants, demanded that women be shrouded in veils, and forbade Muslims from being employed in the service of an unbeliever. The mosques where such materials were gathered were in California, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, and Washington DC.
A report by terror analyst Jean-Charles Brisard, compiled for the UN Security Council in December 2002, stated that between 1992 and 2002, al-Qaeda received between $300 million and $500 million from Saudi businessmen and banks. This represented 20% of Saudi GNP.
According to Brisard, Abdullah Bin Abul Moshin al Turki, the secretary general of the Muslim World League (founded in Mecca in 1962), entered into business negotiations in Spain with Muhammad Zouaydi in 1999. Zouaydi was al-Qaida's main fundraiser in Europe. Abdullah al Turki was an adviser to the late King Fahd. In November 2003, Turki was awarded a prize by King Abdullah for his missionary work.
The Saudis have long encouraged almsgiving, or zakat, but even when these charity donations helped to fund terror, they seemed unwilling to take responsibility. In November 2002, Prince Salman, governor of Riyadh Province and brother of King Fahd, said: "If beneficiaries had used assistance for evil acts, that is not our responsibility at all."
Such attitudes have only helped to fog the issues of Saudi funding and influence in relation to extremism and terrorism. On December 22, 2003 a letter from the Senate Finance Committee was sent to the IRS, requesting information on 25 organizations operating on US soil, which were suspected of funding terrorism.
Among these were two Saudi-based charities, Al Haramain and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). The latter charity's funds were strictly controlled by Prince Salman, who in 2002 claimed not to care about the ultimate destinations of zakat. Documents recovered in Palestinian territories in 2002-3 under Israel's Operation Defensive Shield found that $280,000 had been sent by IIRO to charities run by the terrorist group Hamas. Prince Sultan, Saudi's defense minister, is a major contributor to IIRO funding.
The US Treasury has designated international branches of Al-Haramain and IIRO. Philippines IIRO (headed by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law) and Indonesia IIRO were designated on August 3, 2006, but perhaps for diplomatic reasons, the Saudi branches have not been designated. IIRO has links with the Muslim World League. In December 2005, the head of the Virginia branch of MWL, Abdullah Alnoshan was deported. He had been arrested in July by immigration and FBI officials from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, accused of utilizing fake employment documents.
On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, US Treasury undersecretary Stuart Levey claimed that rich Saudi individuals were a "significant source" of global Islamist terror funding. Levey told a Senate committee hearing on terror financing that the Muslim World League and other Saudi charities "continue to cause us concern". The claims were denied by the secretary general of the Muslim World League. Dr. Abdullah Al-Turki has frequently condemned terrorism, but the MWL has a strong Wahhabist agenda.
According to the Jamestown Foundation, the MWL spreads "radical and vehemently anti-American" propaganda, and also has an agenda specifically targeting Europe. The Saudis began a policy of globally disseminating their brand of Sunni Islam during the 1980s, as a reaction to the Iranian (Shia) revolution. According to former CIA director R. James Woolsey, the Saudis have spent nearly $90 billion spreading their ideology around the globe since the 1970s.
One individual who was religiously educated for several years in Saudi Arabia was Abdullah al-Faisal. Faisal arrived in Britain in 1991, sponsored by Saudi religious authorities. For 12 years he preached up and down the country, preaching at mosques and Islamic centers. During this time he never did a day's honest work, and claimed welfare benefits. The costs of his extensive travel around Britain would not have been covered by state benefits alone. A friend of Abu Hamza, the hook-handed Islamist who preached war against Jews and infidels, Faisal's sermons were no less inflammatory.
Faisal was born in Jamaica as Trevor William Forest, to devout Christian parents. He had left Jamaica aged 16, gone to South America and finally arrived in Saudi Arabia. He studied Islam at university in Riyadh. On he was finally jailed on charges of "soliciting murder" and "racial incitement". These were the same charges with which Hamza was convicted on February 7, 2006. Outside the Old Bailey courtroom where he was convicted, Muslims denounced the sentence of nine years imposed upon Faisal. This sentence was later reduced to seven years.
Bizarrely, setting an uncomfortable precedent in British law, no Jews or Hindus were allowed to serve as jury members. It was also revealed that during the trial of the officially "poor" cleric, the judge, Peter Beaumont, had received a letter from Scotland, offering a £50,000 ($98,000) bribe.
Faisal's sermons took the Saudi Wahhabist ideology to extremes. The materials which appear shocking in Saudi textbooks and mosque guidebooks seem tame, compared to Faisal's utterances. He taught mothers not to bring up their sons as "wimps", but to prime for jihad by buying them toy guns and weaponry.
• "You all have to strike against America anywhere in the world you are. Is that clear? You have to learn how to shoot, to fly planes, to drive tanks and you have to learn how to load your guns and to use missiles."
• “You can use chemical weapons to exterminate the non-believer. If you have cockroaches in your house you can spray them, yes with chemicals, chemicals. Who has more dignity, the cockroach or the unbeliever? If you spray the cockroach, spray the Hindu."
• “Liberty can never be achieved by democracy. The way forward can never be the ballot; the way forward is the bullet. Islam was spread by the sword, today it has got to be spread by the Kalashnikov."
• "When you have a legitimate target you strike at it. If women and children die they are collateral damage"
• “Christians and Jews will never accept you until you follow their evil and corrupted way of life.”
One statement he made ominously suggested that the Saudi royal family sponsored terror. He said: "Do you, like many, cry because you are poor? If so, wage jihad! Look at all the money stashed away in Swiss banks. There's bank in Brunei where King Fahd has deposited 30 million dollars. If you are suffering from poverty, wage jihad and see the money pour into your hands."
Faisal said that Princess Diana and Prince Philip would be "tossed into the hellfire to abide forever". He claimed that British law was "put together by the henchmen of Satan, people who are gays and devil worshippers." He even suggested that power stations should be fueled with the bodies of slaughtered Hindus.
After Faisal's conviction, his veiled Pakistani-born wife Zubaida tried to justify her husband's statements. She said: "When he said, 'If you see a Hindu walking down the road you are allowed to kill him and take his money', he was talking about a war-like situation such as the problems between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir." She continued: "When he said, 'How wonderful it is to kill a kaffir, he was quoting from holy scriptures. He is a man of God, a good father, and a very good husband. If he were a terrorist, he would not have chosen to speak in public."
Though he may not have been a terrorist, Faisal's preachings were disseminated on audio cassettes and DVDs and his sermons were, like thoseof Abu Hamza, heard by people who went on to commit terror. He was also a friend of James Ujaama. Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers, had a collection of Faisal's tapes at his home, which were found after he blew himself up. The leader of the four-man cell which killed 52 people on London Transport was Mohammed Sidique Khan.
Khan, and also Shehzad Tanweer, another 7/7 bomber, had worshipped at the Al-Madina Masjid mosque in Tunstall Road, Beeston. Abdullah al-Faisal had preached at this mosque, and Khan had been in attendance. The senior imam at this mosque, Hamid Ali, has called the four bombers Faisal's "children". The imam recalled that when Abdullah al-Faisal preached, Mohammed Sidique Khan asked him several questions.
Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit, said after Faisal's conviction: "We will never know how many of those young, impressionable people whom El-Faisal spoke to then went abroad to areas of conflict or training camps and have never returned. We have very good grounds for believing that some people actually did go abroad as a result of listening to him."
Whether Faisal continued to be funded by Saudi Arabia after he was paid to journey to Britain is unknown. But it is plain that it was in Saudi Arabia, exposed to the Wahhabist doctrines taught at the Imam Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, that Faisal became radicalized.
Adrian Morgan is a
British based writer and artist who has written for
Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for
Family Security Matters and