Friday, May 14, 2004

With Friends Like These....

I said, repeatedly, that countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a lot more to do with terrorism and the radical brand of Islam that underlies it than Iraq. Below is an excerpt taken from a comprehensive and informative piece about al-Qaeda and the nature of radical Islamic terrorism appearing on the website. This portion details Saudi Arabia's role in the spread of Wahhabism:

"Saudi Arabia has contributed significantly to the spread of radicalism through the government-subsidized export of its Wahhabist strand of hard-line Islam. This policy arose from the turmoil of the late 1970s, when outrage over government corruption and the royal family's decadence prompted hundreds of Islamic radicals to occupy the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The 1978-79 Shiite revolution in Iran threatened Saudi leadership in the Muslim world and offered a cautionary tale of the fate that could await the House of Saud. In an effort to appeal to religious conservatives and counter the Iranian regime, the royal family gave the Wahhabi clerics more influence at home and a mandate to expand their ideology abroad.

Since then, Saudi money disbursed through quasi-governmental organizations such as the Muslim World League has built hundreds of mosques throughout the world. The Saudis provide hard-line clerics with stipends and offer financial incentives to those who forsake previous patterns of worship. In Pakistan, money from the Persian Gulf has funded the massive expansion of madrasas (Islamic schools) that indoctrinate young students with virulent, anti-Western dogma. This Saudi-funded proselytism has enormously damaged long-standing tolerant and pluralist traditions of Islamic observance in East and West Africa, the Far East, and Central Asia. Wahhabism was virtually unknown in northern Iraq until a massive push by Gulf-based missionaries in the early 1990s. And many of the mosques known for radical activity in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada were built with donations from private and state sources in Saudi Arabia.

The inequities of the Saudi system—in which most people are very poor and ruled by a super-rich clique—continues to create a sense of disenfranchisement that allows extremism to flourish. Many of the most militant preachers (and some of the Saudi hijackers who perpetrated the September 11 terrorist attacks) come from marginalized tribes and provinces. A more inclusive style of government and a more just redistribution of resources would undercut the legitimacy of local militants and deny radicals new recruits. Yet, while such reforms might slow the spread of Wahhabism and associated strands outside Saudi Arabia, in much of the world the damage has already been done. As with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Saudi Arabia is one of the many causes of modern Islamic militancy, but it has no monopoly on blame."

The rest of the piece can be found here.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?