As Europe is being subjected to a seemingly never ending series of terrorist attacks, a little noticed event in the United States may provide the answer to a question that Western authorities seldom ask – how did Muslim diaspora communities in the West get radicalized to the point of killing their fellow-citizens? That little noticed event is the declassification of 28 pages of the official US report on the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. For those familiar with the report, it has always been shockingly incongruent that of the 1000 pages of the report it was exactly the 28 pages that dealt with the Saudi Arabian involvement in 9/11 that were classified secret in all the years of the Bush and Obama presidencies until just now. Creating the unmistakable impression that both of them sought to protect Ryadh from the public scrutiny of the facts surrounding 9/11 despite numerous public and congressional demands for declassification. Why these pages were finally declassified just months before the end of the Obama presidency is a separate question that is yet to be answered.
What is really important, however, is what these 28 pages tells us about the Saudi role in aiding and abetting the greatest terrorist act against the West. And despite constant incantation by the House of Saud and Washington both denying a “smoking gun” proof of direct Saudi involvement, the evidence presented in these pages is beyond damning. It shows unmistakably that Saudi diplomats and intelligence officials, including Ambassador Prince Bandar (1983-2005) and his wife, directly assisted the 15 Saudi terrorists involved and obstructed US counter-terror investigations, as for instance, evidence of documented payments by Prince Bandar to two of the Saudi jihadists (al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdar). They also contain numerous unexplained and unexplainable coincidencies, such as the fact that notorious terrorist Abu Zubaydah had the telephone number of a Bandar associate on his person while being arrested in Pakistan, or the fact that Osama bin Laden’s brother and well-known terrorist sympathizer, Abdullah, actually worked for the Saudi embassy in Washington at the time.
None of this is terribly surprising for people who have followed the Saudi effort to export its radical Wahhabi version of Islam to the West beginning in the 1960s and skyrocketing in the 1970s as Saudi profits after the 1973 oil embargo increased a 100 fold. As an official Saudi publication noted at the time “It was only when oil revenues began generating real wealth, that the kingdom could fulfill its ambition to spread the word of Islam to every corner of the world.” Already by the mid-1970s, the Saudis were spending an average of $4 billion per year in non-Muslim countries alone. Between 1975 and 1987, the Saudis admit spending $48 billion, a figure that grew to $70 bln by 2002. As a frame of comparison, the CIA believed that at the peak of its power in 1975, the Soviet Union was spending $1 bln per annum on foreign propaganda. As a result, by the end of the 20th century, according to Saudi figures, they had built 1500 Wahhabi mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 Islamic colleges and 2000 schools in non-Muslim countries alone. As of that time, there was not a single sizable Western city that did not have a Wahhabi mosque and/or other propaganda outlet. The gist of Wahhabi teachings boils down to the following: Christians and Jews are infidels that must be fought, democracy and Western culture are totally incompatible with Islam and must be rejected, peaceful coexistence between Islam and non-Islam is impossible in the long-term, one or the other must disappear, Muslims in the West must not integrate, but form parallel societies governed by shariah. In principle, the values propagated by Wahhabism are identical to those advocated currently by ISIS with the sole exception of slavery, which was outlawed in Saudi Arabia in 1962.
Nor was proselytizing Wahhabism the only concern of the Saudis. Early on they set up a series of “charitable” foundations that directly or indirectly financed and sponsored terrorist activities. There were as many as 245 of these foundations with the most important ones being the Muslim World League (MWL), the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), the Al-Haramain Foundation and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). While the Saudi government claims that these organizations, most of whom are implicated in terrorist activities, are private and non-government, there is conclusive evidence from Saudi sources that they are, in fact, financed and run by the government, often as part of Saudi embassies.
Wahhabism in the Balkans
While the Wahhabi offensive in the West dates to the 1960s, its appearance in the Balkans coincided with the collapse of communism and the beginning of the wars of the Yugoslav succession, especially the war in Bosnia. In fact, it is not possible to comprehend the serious inroads made by terrorist organizations in the Western Balkans, as expressed in the hundreds of jihadists from the region in Syria and Iraq, without reference to the preceding radicalization of Muslim communities under Saudi auspices. The original Saudi involvement in Bosnia stems from its heavy funding of a Sudanese ‘charity’ called the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) led by El Fatih Husanein, a man known to be a friend of Bosnian president Izetbegovic and a financier of Al Qaeda. According to Western sources, between 1992 and 1995, TWRA is reported to have supplied $2.5 billion worth of weapons and supplies to Bosnia. Direct Saudi involvement in Bosnia begins in 1993 with the founding of the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Hercegovina under the leadership of the current king of Saudi Arabia, Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. Similar Saudi front organizations were installed also in Albania and Kosovo. The High Commission under Prince Salman engaged in the spreading of the radical Wahhabi creed in Bosnia to the tune of $600 million, of which $120 mln came from the private account of Salman. During this time, the commission was implicated in close ties with Al-Qaeda in terms of both funding and recruitment of jihadists. In 2001, NATO forces raided the offices of the commission in Sarajevo and confiscated numerous documents proving the close ties between the Commission and Al-Qaeda. One of the documents included was the so called “Golden Chain” list of some twenty Saudi billionaires who funded terrorist activities worldwide. Wahhabi influence and financial involvement in Bosnia and elsewhere in the Western Balkans continues to the present day and is a key factor in the ongoing radicalization of a part of the Muslim society there.
The significant decline in the price of oil over the past year and therefore Saudi oil income, raised hope in the West that the Saudi’s may on their own curtail the lavish funding of radical Islam. It is likely that theses hopes would remain just that. Last February the MWL sponsored a conference in the kingdom on how to deal with terrorism. The conclusion according to the Saudi media was that the most effective weapon in the fight against terrorism is shariah!
By Alex Alexiev