by Rachel Ehrenfeld
Who will stand up to the Saudis for fostering Islamic terrorism?
The first-ever global meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) network of some 200 jurisdictions over the weekend in Paris “to discuss actions…to combat the financing of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) …and to combat the financing of terrorism ” will probably make the participants feel good, but will do little to cut-off state sponsorship of the fast growing radical Islamist movement.
The development of new technologies and encryption of online communications, financial transactions and other non-traditional methods to transfer money present serious obstacles to monitoring funding of large number of terrorists and their supporters. But the most important obstacle is the West’s decades-long willful blindness to name and shame Saudi Arabia as the biggest terror financier, as well as the Saudis' role in the development and spread of opaque Sharia finance institutions and Islamic charities.
Thus, Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel's recent condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing funding of the spread of radical Islam in the West was surprising. “Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities," he told Bild am Sonntag, the largest-selling German Sunday paper. Even more unexpected was his statement: “We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over.”
The Saudi role in fostering Islamic terrorism is no secret. Before it came under some criticism after the al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Saudi Kingdom used to openly brag about its large donations to build, maintain and supply mosques, Islamic centers and madrassas, stocking them with Wahhabi Imams and ulemas (religious teachers) and covering expenses such as salaries, pensions, and “terrorcare” that included hospitals and other public services.
Directed by Muslim Brotherhood advisors who championed the oxymoron ‘Political Islam’ to deceive the infidels, the Kingdom funded Western tax exempt Islamic organizations engaged in dawah (proselytization for Islam). Among them were networks of charitable organizations that provide financial aid to prisoners (including non-Muslims to lure them to Islam) in Western jails, lavishly funded academic chairs in Middle East Studies in universities around the world, student-exchange programs and spending many millions of dollars to increase Saudi political influence in the West -- even contributing $100 million to coordinate and assist the United Nations international counterterrorism efforts.
Saudi efforts to bring Wahhabi Islam to global dominance began in earnest in 1962, with the establishment of the first international Saudi charity, the Muslim World League (MWL). Influenced by exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members, then-Crown Prince Faisal bin Abdul Aziz used growing oil revenues to fund MWL, which in turn established many other Islamic charities and nonprofits that helped directly and indirectly create the global jihadist movement. Successive Saudi kings have created additional "charitable” organizations to fund the worldwide spread of Wahhabism and have on occasion organized several national campaigns encouraging their subjects to support Sunni terror organizations outside the country, including the PLO, Hamas and al Qaeda. Thus it would be wrong to distinguish between contributions to radical Sunni organizations by the Saudi theocratic monarchy, its government and its wealthy subjects.
But Saudi support for terrorism extends much beyond direct deposits to openly radical elements. Direct financing of terrorist activities is but one of several means to further their agenda.
Indeed, little has changed since then-Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey’s testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in 2008 that Saudi Arabia is “serious about fighting Al Qaeda in the kingdom…[but] the seriousness of purpose with respect to the money going out of the kingdom is not as high” (emphasis added).
The spread of Salafist radical groups, such as the global Hizb ut-Tahrir, Tablighi Jamaat, and ISIS proves the effectiveness of the decades-long, $2 trillion's worth of Saudi funding to indoctrinate Muslims everywhere, creating a large base of followers ready for further radicalization of what the West has erroneously labeled “self-radicalization.”
Saudi Arabia’s role in initiating and fomenting worldwide Muslim riots to curtail Western free speech has been mostly ignored. However, Muslims riots following the October 2005 publication of the Muhammad cartoons in Denmark's largest daily, Jyllands-Posten, began only after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark; after Sheikh Osama Khayyat, imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, praised on national Saudi television the Saudi government for its action; and after Sheikh Ali Al-Hudaify, imam of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, called “upon governments, organizations and scholars in the Islamic world to extend support for campaigns protesting the sacrilegious attacks on the Prophet.” The Saudi-controlled Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) initiated and coordinated Muslim rioting worldwide after the Danish Muhammad cartoon publications.
Moreover, to wield more control over Muslim communities worldwide, better orchestrate “spontaneous demonstrations,” and better allocate funds for them, the Saudi-backed OIC established the clerical International Commission for Zakat (ICZ) on 30 April 2007. Previously, there were more than 20,000 organizations that collected zakat. Now, however, the Islamic clerics' centralized “expert committee” based in Malaysia also supervises and distributes zakat funds globally. Yet, President Obama and his former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, describe Malaysia as a “moderate Muslim country” and Saudi Arabia as an ally.
The public outrage and rejection of Saudi King Salman’s offer to fund 200 new mosques for more than 800,000 new Muslim refugees in Germany, and the Vice Chancellor’s statement: “We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over” point in the right direction. But don’t hold your breath. Germany, the United States and the rest of the West have been turning a blind eye to Saudi funding of thousands of mosques, madrassas and Islamic centers that have propagated radical Islamic ideology for decades and are unlikely to face reality anytime soon.
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy and author of hundreds of articles and several books, including How Terrorism is Financed - and How to Stop It.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.