Last week an American woman (Nicole Lynn Mansfield) has been killed in Syria while fighting alongside rebel forces against the Assad regime alongside two other Westerners—the U.K. press has identified one as a British man born in 1990. The other remains unknown. This news has made me think how Wahhabi ideology is penetrating the West. Here is a ‘naïve’ woman who is converted to Islam by a religious hardliner Saudi man (Ayman Mohammad Bafil), who marries her and then divorces her. Still, instead of staying in Michigan to continue to be a mom to her teen, decides instead to go to a war zone and engage in the war with Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra, and got her radical-self killed. Does she get 72 male virgins or are virgins of the opposite sex only for male jihadists?
In fact it has now been credibly reported that at least 700 Europeans are fighting the Assad regime in Syria mainly as militant Islamists. The German government has officially warned that the militants could return as “home-grown terrorists”, calling for a controversial new policy that would temporarily bar them from re-entering Europe.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey once rightly told Congress: “Wahhabi extremism today is the soil in which al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are growing.” Wahhabism is the brand of Islam that is practised in Saudi Arabia and propagated by it around the world. While the West is fighting terrorists and their financial supporters, it seems oblivious to the imperative of fighting their religious ideology. Let there be no doubt. Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Ansardine, Hamas, and other terrorist groups’ ideology is essentially Wahhabism, and most of their members are ideologically Wahhabis. The growing rift within Sunni Islam that has spread across Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Africa and has fueled the Taliban and other Jihadists with foot soldiers from some radical centers of learning has clear connections to Wahhabi doctrines. The culpability of Saudi Arabia, both officially and privately, in perpetuating intolerance across the Muslim world must be duly acknowledged. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Looming Tower, veteran journalist Lawrence Wright described how the scale of Saudi investment would impact the Muslim world: “…eventually, Saudi Arabia, which constitutes only a little over 1 per cent of the world Muslim population would support 90 per cent of the expenses of the entire faith, overriding other traditions in Islam.” The Saudi influence in Muslim world is palpable everywhere. And they are fast gaining influence in the West too.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
Despite being one of the most oppressive countries on the planet, Saudi Arabia has been one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East for some time along with other oppressive Middle Eastern governments with whom it is strategically convenient to be allied, including Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. This is utter hypocrisy when the bomblast from the American government frequently paints many other regimes as despotic, oppressive, and anti-human rights whereas all these apply more to any of its Middle Eastern allies. These regimes are now kicking up Sunni-Shia rift in the Middle East because that is the only way for them to stay afloat. Surprisingly, the US and its allies are mindlessly playing along instead of realizing that the changing times have rendered these totalitarian governments intrinsically unstable.
Credible estimates indicate that since 1973, the Saudi government has spent over $200B to promote Wahhabism in the United States, Europe, and round the world. According to official Saudi information, Saudi funds have been used to build and maintain over 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges, 210 Islamic Centres wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia. Saudi Arabia has fully or partially financed Islamic Centres in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Fresno; Chicago; New York; Washington; Tucson; Raleigh, N.C. and Toledo, Ohio as well as in Austria, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia. Saudi aid to Muslims abroad, comes laden with the purpose of promoting the Wahhabi version of Islam.
Wahhabism preaches “consider the infidel your enemy,” (advises a Saudi text for 10th-graders), the connection between political Islam of the sort advocated by al-Qaeda and the education offered at the Wahhabi institutions is a common ideology. A look into the curricula of these institutions suffices to afford insight into the message the Saudis wish to instil in the minds of their followers throughout the world. The message, simply stated, is that Wahhabism either must dominate or be dominated. In these Wahhabi texts, Islam is presented as the only true religion while all other religions are presented as false. “Islam is the only religion leading its followers to Paradise, whereas all other religions destroy their believers in Hell. The Muslims are, consequently, superior to followers of all other religions, in both this world and the next. Christians and Jews in particular are denounced as infidels. Jews especially are presented as enemies of Islam and of Muslims. “Muslims may not befriend them, nor emulate them in any way, lest that lead to love and friendship which is forbidden. These guys sit in the West and have the gall to claim that the West, in particular, is the source of all misfortunes of the Muslim world — its most dangerous effect on Muslim society being its cultural and intellectual influence in various fields including the spread of Western practices and habits — from Western democracy to Western influence in the fields of literature, art, music, the media, fashion, education and research — including Christian missionary work, Western humanitarian and medical aid, and even Western-invented computer games. Nor is peace between Muslims and non-Muslims advocated. Instead, the Wahhabi literature (from the US to Pakistan) and Saudi textbooks are full of phrases exalting war, jihad, and martyrdom. As a rule, Wahhabis do not embrace the modern religious spirit of inter-faith cooperation. They are distinctly isolationist.
In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, North Africa and Syria, Saudi money, billions of dollars’ worth, has funded the most intolerant, extremist, and viciously dangerous centres of terrorism and backwardness. Until the very real and growing threat of Wahhabism is contained, all sorts of crimes almost unthinkable in many parts of the world just decades ago will continue to spill the blood of innocents. Murdering girls for going to school? Massacring religious pilgrims for the crime of being Shiite “heretics”? Murdering Muslims for being Ahmedis? Raping Alawite women? Annihilating Christians? Destroying world heritage historical sites whether Buddhist statues in Afghanistan or tombs of the world famous Mansas of Mali, Islamic tombs, but still not “pure” enough for these Wahhabis? Razing and bombing saints’ shrines from Pakistan to Syria? And all paid for by one of the most corrupt and reactionary rule on the planet, who just happen to be a major ally of the western regimes, the Saudi Arabian royal family.
Whereas Wahhabism is spreading its tentacles in Europe also, due to the inherent openness of its society and its friendship with Saudi Arabia, the US is the only country outside Saudi Arabia where the Islamic establishment is actually under Wahhabi control. The Saudis have funded more than 80 per cent of the Wahhabi-influenced mosques built in the United States within the last 30 years. And the most pliable minds belong to Muslim kids. An estimated 40,000 Muslim children attend Saudi-funded Wahhabi day schools in America. Intolerance and outright rejection of American values and democratic ideals —classical Wahhabism— are often taught. The Saudis, have also directed considerable outreach toward the American Black Muslim community, for example, pledging as much as $10 million for an extravagant mosque and the school attached to it in shabby South Central Los Angeles. The Saudis also have a special program aimed at converting blacks in prison. The program is funded by Saudi Arabian money through the National Islamic Prison Foundation. Prison ‘dawa’ (the spreading of the faith) has become a priority for the Saudi Arabian government. The Islamic Affairs Department of the Saudi Embassy in Washington disseminates hundreds of copies of the Quran each month, as well as religious pamphlets and videos to prison chaplains and Islamic groups who then pass them along to inmates. Because of Washington’s unwillingness to risk a rupture with Saudi Arabia, the U.S. has also failed to pursue a coherent political strategy aimed at de-legitimizing the ideology of Islamic terrorism in America and undermining the terrorists’ sources of support.
Here are a couple of examples among thousands: Egyptian-born Qatari cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi is currently considered one of the most influential scholars in Islam and much feted by the Saudi Royals. He was endorsed by London mayor Ken Livingstone as a moderate voice and was much valued by Georgetown University’s flourishing Islamic-studies programs. (Like Harvard, Georgetown has been purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars.) Here is what al-Qaradawi has to say on his Islam-online website, speaking of female genital mutilation (the removal of a girl’s clitoris): ‘Anyhow, it is not obligatory, whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world.’ Yusuf al-Qaradawi also urged Muslims to kill the Jews on Al Jazeera TV, not only in Israel but also worldwide. He added, “No peace can be made between us (Muslims) and the non-believers. This what our holy book says. This what Allah says.” Yusuf al-Qaradawi also wrote: “Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah. And he’s not just any reformist. Another Qaradawi fan, Imam Rauf, the similarly “moderate” imam of Ground Zero mosque project fame, tells us Qaradawi is also “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.” Sheik Taj Din al-Hilaly, former Mufti of Australia and Imam of the Lakemba Mosque, said in a sermon at the Lakemba Mosque October 2006: “Those atheists, people of the book [Christians and Jews], where will they end up? In Surfers Paradise? On the Gold Coast? Where will they end up? In hell and not part-time, for eternity. They are the worst in God’s creation.”
Are the US and Europe willing to learn? I don’t think so. For instance, the repercussions of CIA funding for the Mujahedeen in the 1980s alone are enough to know the West should not seek to fund Syrian rebels. In Syria the main problem facing the NATO powers is their reliance on the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other allied Arab states. Many of these have become infested with Wahhabis, who are expert at conveying a distorted version of ground realities upward to their superiors. In particular, these Wahhabi nests within the Saudi, Qatari, and other NATO-allied intelligence services sponsor individuals whom they know to be hostile to the core security interests of the West, but for whom they seek backing. Just as in Afghanistan and Libya, the West is funding elements that will very soon work against them. The Saudi regime –and not just its scion Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda– bears a major portion of the blame for international terrorism. Hence the acts of terror against Americans from Africa to New York will likely continue unless some serious pressure is placed on Riyadh to stop sponsoring Islamic extremists round the world. The Saudis aid terrorism both directly and indirectly. On the direct level, they fund (at government and at private levels) Islamic terrorist groups throughout the world. For example, evidence uncovered in Afghanistan by British and American intelligence officers clearly implicates a number of leading Saudis, some of them members of the royal family, in the funding of al-Qaeda. In addition to providing financial sustenance for terrorist groups, the Saudis have helped to shape those groups’ ideology by exporting an extreme form of Islamist philosophy. It is no accident that the Saudis enjoyed warm relations with the Taliban long after the rest of the world broke ties. As Abdullah Al Refaie, editor-in-chief, of the Saudi paper Al Muslimoon, put it: “The Iranian claim that the Taliban have discredited Islam is simply not true. The Taliban, in fact, have a good record of behaving as faithful and moderate Muslims.” The partnership with Saudi Arabia in Syria has also led to the ranks of the rebels now being dominated by Jihadists. This is in keeping with the record of Saudis, who one way or another leave their fingerprints on virtually every major development among Muslim terrorists.
In summary, the Western governments have thus kept an uneasy and unprincipled balance of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, thus turning Wahhabi cunningness into cunnilingus that now contaminates their own gullet. Such an approach is unsustainable from the perspective of international conflict resolution as well as for weeding out the terrorism. This approach also makes moderate Muslims round the world suspicious of the West’s resolve in tackling extremism. This unholy alliance between the West and the Saudis will continue to yield destructive consequences as Riyadh has been — and remains — the main ideological and financial sponsor of Islamic extremism worldwide. Billions of Saudi dollars are flowing through legitimate businesses, charitable front organizations, Islamic Centres, academies, private schools, wealthy Saudi individuals and worldwide criminal activities for the sole purpose of promoting a religious philosophy that is adversative to democracy, the democratic ideals of freedom, tolerance, religious pluralism, and Western civilization as we know it. Until the western governments challenge this reality in a significant way, enduring headway in the war on terrorism is unlikely. Wahhabism, by its very makeup and history, represents a fast emerging fifth column in the West.