After 9/11, America discovered that most of the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia but pretended not to notice anything. Instead of punishing the Saudis, America attacked Afghanistan and then Iraq.
Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen, the Arabs’ poorest nation, for nearly three months. Yemen’s only fault being its diverse population structure which worked well with them for centuries but the Saudis don’t like it anymore. Tens of thousands have been killed, injured or displaced in the country that didn’t have much to start with. The war on Yemen doesn’t even get reported by the Western media; you have to look hard and search to find something about it.
Saudi Arabia uses the Arab League as a political tool to herd the rest of the Arab states. It asked the Arab League to suspend Syria, a founding member of the league, in an unprecedented move in the history of the organisation. In a similar way, the Saudis use the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which they created, to herd the Islamic world.
It is common knowledge that nearly all terrorist Islamic organisations enjoyed the financial or political support of Saudi Arabia, or both, yet it has never been blamed for it.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a real monster. This article is about its rise and the rise modern terrorism, as both go hand in hand.
To me, most of this history is about distant memories. As a young Arab, I also believed in the myth of Arab nationalism, just like most of my generation did. Driven by patriotism, I carefully followed that era of the Arabs' history, almost day by day, until all my fictional world collapsed like a house of cards while I watched with disbelief. Since its creation, Saudi Arabia has been a facility that produces hate, terror and ignorance on a massive scale and, at least to me, a representation of backwardness. I am afraid that my visits to the country in later years just confirmed that negative image.
History tends to forget about Arabia. It did so for thousands of years until the rise of Islam in the seventh century. Even with such a powerful stimulus, Arabia only managed to awake up for less than fifty years before it went again into its deep sleep. By the reign of Uthman, the third rightly guided caliph, the balance of power shifted to Damascus and then to Baghdad.
Ibn Saud meets Ibn Abdul Wahhab
For all the centuries since the rise of Islam, the desert of Arabia was available for occupation or colonisation but no one was interested. The only wars the beduins of Arabia had to fight were the wars against each other, and there were plenty of those wars. In the eighteenth century those wars were mainly between the Saudi tribe under the leadership of Mohammed Ibn Saud's and their adversaries from other tribes. In his excellent book, The Hatred’s Kingdom, Dore Gold puts an estimate of nearly half a million people who were slaughtered as a result of the Saudi wars for dominance. An alliance with another religious warrior, Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab proved to be vital to the success of Ibn Saud campaign. Abdul Wahhab was a strict Muslim warrior with no tolerance to those who disagreed with him. The agreement between the two men gave the political leadership to the Saudis and the religious leadership to the Wahhabis. The alliance is still a key to understanding how the country being run today.
The Third Saudi State - the Kingdom
The Saudis succeeded twice in creating a state in the nineteenth century, in both cases the states were crushed soon afterwards. The first state was a nuisance to the Ottomans who asked Mohammed Ali of Egypt to deal with them, which he did and nearly annihilated the Saudis in 1816. The second state was defeated by rival tribes and the Saudis were forced to flee and seek asylum in Kuwait. Abdul Aziz was only twenty one years when he became the Saudi tribe’s leader in 1902. He made many military successes thanks to the support of the the ‘Brothers’ (the Ikhwan), which was a Wahhabi armed Islamic group. The British were also behind Abdul Aziz and provided him with much needed financial and military help to conquer the Al Rashid tribe and to occupy the Eastern province, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. Abdul Aziz then turned his attention to the west and conquered Nejd and then Hijaz which was ruled by the pro British Hashemite tribe. For the sake of politics, having been pro British didn’t make much difference to the British government. In 1932, all present day Saudi Arabia was united under the leadership of Abdul Aziz, who proclaimed himself as the king of the desert kingdom which he named after his tribe. The British help to Abdul Aziz came at a time when Winston Churchill was already an influential figure in British politics and many years after he wrote his famous quote about Mohammedanism (1).
The Western role was not limited to helping the birth of the new kingdom but continued to be essential for its survival. The birth of the desert kingdom coincided with two important developments: the birth of the other Ikhwan group, the current Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928 and the discovery of oil ten years later. With wealth, thirst for power, religious zealous and unconditional Western support, the stage was perfectly set for the desert kingdom to become the main political player in the Middle East. Suddenly, history remembered Arabia and Abdul Aziz became a sought after king that world leaders seek to meet with. Indeed, towards the end of WWII, Both Churchill and FD Roosevelt met with the King in Egypt and aboard the USS Quincy respectively. Those meetings laid down the basis of the Western relations with the emerging Islamic power. We don’t know the details of those meetings but we know well that the two leaders were the most powerful men on earth and certainly more than capable to force their own terms on a tribe’s leader whom they helped to become a king. Well, it doesn’t look that way, unless their own terms happened to match the Saudi’s terms.
It is remarkable that the relationship between the West and Saudi Arabia has always been exceptionally good since the establishment of the kingdom. There was no time when the two sides were in disagreement or their relations were bad, even after 9/11. However, the role of Saudi Arabia as a major player in Middle Eastern politics suddenly came to a halt, not because of the wishes of the Western powers but against those wishes. Saudi Arabia was sidelined for nearly two decades because of another development in another Middle Eastern country - Egypt.
The Nasser years
Gamal Abdul Nasser came to power in Egypt through a military coup in 1952. Despite his socialist policies he was anti communist and started with a friendly relations with the Muslim Brotherhood. Nasser was a charismatic leader who inspired a generation of Arabs and revolutionaries of his time, like Castro and Nelson Mandela. He had big plans for his country including land reforms and an ambitious large scale industrialisation program that required the building of a massive dam across the river Nile. More importantly he was an Arab nationalist who opposed colonialism and supported independence movements in different parts of the world. The Muslim Brotherhood soon turned against him as it became clear to them that he was not the kind of leader who will be told what to do. After escaping an assassination attempt in 1954, Nasser cracked down on the Brotherhood movement and many of its members fled the country to enjoy the hospitality of Saudi Arabia and the West. They were encouraged to continue their activities; their journal and mouth piece “al Muslimoon” started to be published from Switzerland. The journal was edited by Sa’eed Ramadan, who was one of their leaders who lived in Switzerland where he raised his son Tariq Ramadan, who became another mouth piece for the movement.
As a co-founder of the non allied movement, Nasser opposed the post war American plans to force the Arab countries to join American linked alliances such as the CENTO or the Baghdad Alliance in the 1950s. The Baghdad Alliance was not a great success and America wasn’t amused. In1965, king Faisal of Saudi Arabia supported by the shah of Iran called upon the Islamic world to come together under a pro American Islamic alliance. Those were the days when the Shia of Iran were perfect Muslims but the sunni Egyptians were kuffar! Nasser opposed the idea of the Islamic alliance and the project never came to existence. However, the organisation of Islamic conference (OIC) was formed a few years later, which is still a very important political tool in the hands of Saudi Arabia.
The declared reasons for the Saudi opposition to Nasser were based, of course, on religion. They claimed that socialism was kufr, therefore, must be fought by all means. In reality, they didn’t like Nasser because his popularity and influence stood in their way. They plotted to assassinate the young president but those plots failed, however, getting rid of Nasser became an obsession to both the Saudis and the Brotherhood movement.
Nasser’s nationalist’s propaganda had some receptive ears in the closely guarded kingdom, which resulted in some high level defections. Army officers, fighter pilots, even some of the king’s brothers rebelled against him and defected to Egypt in 1962. The stability of the kingdom was further undermined by the ongoing power struggle between King Saud and his brother Faisal. The relations between the two brothers deteriorated further and the King was forced to abdicate in 1964 and sought refuge in Egypt, where he lived under the rule of the man he plotted to kill. For a while, Nasser appeared to be unstoppable but his increasing influence sounded an alarm to act urgently to have him removed. Indeed, soon it was Nasser’s regime which was undermined as the Egyptian leader became increasingly surrounded by corrupt aides and spies, even within his own family.
Faisal, the king of terror
I believe that Faisal stands out among the Saudi leaders as the most evil of all. Although Islamic terrorism, in the sense and scale we know it today, was not known to the world in his life, it was his policies that laid down the firm foundations of Islamic terror. It is important to emphasise that terrorism didn’t come as a byproduct of his policies because it was the intended product.
Faisal literally embodied the marriage between the Saudis and Wahhabism; his father was a Saudi and his mother was a Wahhabi of Al elsheikh tribe, the descendants of Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab. Faisal had big plans in his mind and couldn’t wait for his brother to die so he conspired against him and had him removed while outside the country for medical treatment. King Saud was bad but not bad enough in Faisal’s standards. Faisal believed that for the kingdom to achieve its political potential, Nasser needed to go and he didn’t think his brother knew how to do it. Nasser considerably younger than Faisal; waiting for his natural death was not an option to the new king.
Faisal was very influential even before he became a king. In 1961, and in one of their worst blunders, the Egyptians sent a military help to the newly formed republican regime in Yemen. The Saudis seized the opportunity and provided the deposed monarch (called the Imam) with all the military and financial support required to drag the Egyptian army into a lengthy and costly guerrilla war. Interestingly, the deposed Imam, which the Saudis wanted to put back in power, had similar religious and ethnic background to the Houthis, which the Saudis have been fighting for three months to remove from power!
Faisal was behind establishing the Islamic University of Medina, which recruited leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood from all over the Muslim countries. The well known Pakistani scholar, Al Mawdudi, who was a big name in the brotherhood, was in charge of the university. The well funded university became a centre of extremism as its radical staff had free hands to teach, publish and promote Wahhabism. The Muslim libraries were flooded with books that sing the same tune, the Wahhabi tune. The previously unknown scholar Ibn Taymeyyia (1263-1328) started to become a household name.
Faisal was also behind establishing The Muslim World League, which was an even more remarkable project. The league started as a small and largely unknown organisation in the 1960s but within a decade it became a monstrous multi billion dollars global organisation. It is divided into some twenty divisions, each a massive organisation on its own right. Those divisions take care of all Muslims’ needs such as promoting Islamic education, Islamic finance, halal food and promoting the myth of scientific miracles in the Quran… you name it.
Although the above two institutions were created in 1961/1962 but both remained largely dormant for nearly a decade. The time was not right yet to release their full potential.
In a letter to president Johnson in 1966, king Faisal urged the American president to take action to bring an end to Nasser and his regime (2). The 1967 war was not an accidental war; it was a well planned trap to force Nasser to fight a war he cannot win, especially with a big chunk of his army fighting another war in Yemen. The war was a humiliating defeat to Nasser and the Saudi’s long awaited objective of getting rid of him seemed to have been accomplished. Indeed, in a live radio broadcast to the nation, Nasser accepted responsibility and announced his resignation. However, the Egyptians went immediately to the streets in a hysterical move to demand that he stays to rebuild the army, which he did.
Despite the humiliating defeat, Nasser was still very much the ‘leader’ in the Arab world whose approval was necessary on Middle Eastern issues. His international standing wasn’t affected either. It may have looked as if the Saudis were in for a long wait before they unleash their Islam to the Arabs and the world. It only ‘looked’ that way because in September 1970 Nasser died suddenly at the of age 52; with his death, the world entered a new dark phase - the Islamic phase (3).
Nasser died of heart attack, which was not surprising for a hard working diabetic man. The cause of death started to be questioned in recent years in the light of emerging evidence pointing at a planned assassination. If indeed that was the case, I would be surprised if the Saudis were not involved.
Sadat, the believer president
Anwar Sadat succeeded Nasser and reversed all of his policies, which was a bizarre move from a politician who was responsible of those policies. As a result, Egypt became pro American and was reduced to only a tool in the hands of Saudi Arabia. The Islamists were released from jails and granted platforms in the press and influence in the the universities and Islamic institutions. The largest Arab nation, and once the most progressive, was radicalised within a decade. At last, all the Islamists’ prayers were answered.
Sadat briefly joined the Muslim Brotherhood as a young man. He joined the army as an officer and worked as a spy for the Nazi army in North Africa in WWII, which lead to his imprisonment by the British authorities in Egypt. He continued to be a fan of Hitler and wrote in his praise even after the 1952 military coup which brought him to government. Being in charge of the Yemen file in 1961, he was the one behind the ill fated decision of sending troops to help the military coup.
Sadat assumed the unofficial title of “the president who is a believer” despite drinking whisky in a show of westernisation to his western guests. He famously became one of the first Egyptians to develop the skin mark called zabibah. This is a dark mark that appears on the skin where the forehead comes in contact with the floor during sujud (prostration) part of prayers. It is a sign (or supposed to be a sign) of excessive prayers and its presence supposedly indicates that the person is a devout Muslim. Verse Q. 48:29 describes the believers as : “… their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration…” (..سيماهم في وجوههم…) The zabiba was a common sight in Egypt in the 1980s and 1990s and then its appearance started to decline as ordinary Egyptians became aware of its true nature. In reality the zabiba is a sign that the person is a plain liar. It only appeared on Egyptian men (not women) and there is no report that Mohammed developed a zabiba, neither did any of his companions.
Sadat’s vulnerability didn’t go unnoticed by the Saudi Intelligence service and the CIA. It is believed that he was recruited in the 1960s and received regular income from the Saudis . He was killed in 1981 by the very Islamists he unleashed to the world.
With the fall of Egypt, the Saudis had access to treasures of resources like the well developed media and the human expertise to run them. They also had Al Azhar and its institutions on their side. Only ten years earlier, Al Azhar went through a massive modernisation program. Its university started to teach western sciences and, for the first time, to accept girls in its classes. Most of the staff of the new look university (and all of the students) were western looking. Girls were dressed just like in other universities - no hijab (today, they are still dressed like girls in other universities - all with hijab). All these reformations were reversed, thanks to the Saudi influence. With the members of the Muslim Brotherhood out of jail, the Saudis had everything they needed to start their global Islamisation program.
The Global Islamisation
Back in the 1970s. King Faisal made use of the desire of some Europeans, especially the French, to form some kind of alliance with the Arabs and Muslims. The French were motivated by a feeling of being left out by the Americans and a desire to create a political entity independent from America. They expressed their readiness to open Europe to Muslims, welcome their culture and treat them preferentially. This is a fact not fiction or a conspiracy theory. Mohammed Hasanain Haikal is the most renowned Arab journalist with connections to officials and leaders around the world. His writings have always been taken seriously. He wrote that back in the 1970s he had a series of meetings with French officials who told him that France has already signed a treaty with Saudi Arabia to promote Islam and introduce it to Europe (4). Apparently Haikal mentioned this information in one of his books in the 1970s, long before other authors wrote about Eurabia. The European Arab Dialogue (EAD) was established to manage the new changes in the fabric of Europe.
In the 1970s there was a sharp rise in the price of oil, generating even more cash to the Saudis and increasing King Faisal’s spending power. The various organisations of the Muslim World League (MWL) embarked into a global Islamisation program that started in Europe but slowly spread in all directions. There was a sharp increase in the number of mosques and Islamic Centres as well as Islamic schools. The Western universities and academics proved to be easy preys to the well funded International Commission of Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunna. This organisation cleverly exploited the vulnerability, and sometimes gullibility, of the Western academia to build an enormous mythical concept that helped to deceive converts and retain existing Muslims. They indirectly influenced top western universities by generous donations and funding new projects or sponsoring academic chairs. If you wonder how Tariq Ramadan was given a chair at Oxford university think of the influence of the MWL. Western academics were regularly invited to lavish scientific conferences that usually included a paper or two on the Muslims’ contribution in the field and perhaps some related “miracles” in the Quran or sunna.
We must keep in mind that an important part of the global Islamisation takes place within the kingdom. Over the years, tens of millions of non Saudis workers were subjected to extensive and regular brainwashing. The process takes place in schools, universities, work, mosques, shopping centres.. you name it. It is an efficient process that produces results; it is common for non practicing Muslims to return home fully Islamised after only one year work. Also many non Muslims convert to Islam as a result of this policy.
King Faisal was killed in 1975 but his legacy lived on. The Islamisation process received an extra boost after the Islamic revolution in Iran and its initial positive impact on the Arabs. The first large scale Islamic jihad was declared against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, of course with American support (and request). Young Arabs were brain washed, charged and recruited to fight what was perceived as an atheist invasion of a Muslim land. With eight Muslim republics already within the borders of the Soviet Union, the worry about Afghanistan was difficult to understand. The Mujahidon of Afghanistan were created by America and Saudi Arabia, staffed by the Muslim Brotherhood and glorified by the Western media. Most of the so called Arab Afghans were from the fully Islamised Egypt. The Mujahidon were terrorists just like Al Qaeda (which originated from them) but the western media ignored reporting their atrocities. Taliban was also created by Saudi Arabia and staffed by the graduates of the Saudi funded Islamic schools. The role of the Pakistani Intelligence was to manage and facilitate its formation. The fact that Taliban was recognized by only Saudi Arabia and two of its allies, Pakistan and the Emirates, says it all. In fact, nearly all of the Islamic terrorists organisations, including ISIS, were inspired by wahhabism and enjoyed the Saudi support and money, at least at some stage.
The Saudi funding of extremism and terror did not stop at government level. Islamic charities and Zakat money total to billions of dollars most of which is used in funding jihad in one place or the other. I happened to be in Saudi Arabia in 1994 and was amazed at the extensive effort that was put to make people donate to support the Bosnian war. Newspapers, radio, TV, mosques loud speakers, shopping centres.. it was impossible to avoid it. Nearly all zakat money paid by Saudis and Muslim employees working in the kingdom were used to fund the Bosnian jihad. The relevant WML organisations make sure that Muslims around the world do exactly the same as those in Saudi Arabia.
1. Winston Churchill wrote: “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.”.
2. 1995, كتاب (عقود من الخيبات) للكاتب /حمدان حمدان, p. 489-491
Saudi Government Document 342, date 27 Dec. 1966