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Over the last week [early January 2007], several items in the world news have highlighted the problem of Saudi Arabia, a supposed ally in the War on Terror, funding mosques which promote the same extremism and calls for jihad which create terror. There is a certain hypocrisy about the Saudis exporting any form of Islam abroad, as the undemocratic kingdom prohibits any symbols of other faiths from being imported. Crucifixes, Bibles are forbidden. Guest workers proliferate in the kingdom, but if any attempt to hold Christian prayer and worship, they are jailed.
Saudi Arabia is listed by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as one of the "countries of particular concern", for its violations. Under the terms of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), Saudi Arabia is placed on a watch list by the US State Department. In September 2005, Eritrea became the first nation to be given sanctions under the terms of the IRFA yet Saudi Arabia, whose repression equals Eritrea, was given a 180 day "waiver", to allow it time for "continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues."
Even for Muslims in Saudi Arabia, strict Wahhabism denies people basic rights. A Salafist doctrine, it was originated in 1744 by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), who used violent enforcers called muttawa, mutawi or mutawi'oon to ensure obedience. Nowadays these muttawa, or religious policemen, enact the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. The muttawa are draconian, causing 15 schoolgirls to die on Monday, March 11, 2002 when a fire broke out at a girl's school dormitory. Several girls tried to escape the burning building, but were met by members of the muttawa, who found the girls not dressed in appropriate attire. They beat the girls to send them back into the flames. The muttawa also prevented fireman from approaching to deal with the conflagration
The muttawa's powers were slightly reduced in May 2006, but their repression continues. On June 6, 2006 a 70-year old Saudi woman was placed in jail because she went into a shop where only a male shopkeeper was present. The elderly and disabled woman was arrested by muttawa because she had been "in close proximity to a man" ("khalwat").
The muttawa are involved in destroying national monuments which had survived since the time of Mohammed, lest they become places of pilgrimage. In 1998, the grave of Amina bint Wahb (Mohammed's mother) was destroyed. The house of Khadija, Mohammed's first wife, has been replaced with lavatories. Only 20 structures from the time of Islam's prophet now remain. (picture).
Saudi Wahabbism evolved with the expansionist ambitions of the al-Saud tribe, who now comprise the Saudi "Royal" family, and hold all the important positions in the so-called government. Were in not for Saudi oil reserves, the kingdom would be written off as a tin-pot dictatorship of the worst order. Yet this repressive apology for a nation, where the victim of a gang-rape was subjected to a punishment of 90 lashes in November 2006, exports its backwards ideology throughout the world.
In southern Adelaide, Australia, construction of Park Holme mosque halted this month, because the foreign minister, Alexander Downer ordered that the Saudi government should not be funding the building. The mosque had been a haunt of immigrant Warya Kanie, who was captured in Iraq last year, fighting against the coalition.
Downer said: "There has been concern internationally, not specifically to Australia, about some elements in Saudi Arabia which is the heartland of Wahhabism and Sufism... trying to spread that particular extremist interpretation of Islam. Historically the Saudi Arabian Government has provided funding (to overseas mosques), I'm not saying there's anything illegitimate about that... but we can obviously express a view to the Saudi Arabian government."
Downer appears to confuse Sufism, an apolitical form of Islam with Salafism, a rigid and orthodox expression of the faith.
This month, the government in Italy announced that it would be introducing monitoring of foreign donations to Islamic schools and mosques. Giuliana Amato, the interior minister said he had little control over money entering the country, particularly from foreign governments. He said: "There's something I don't like about it. In the future, I want to understand who is financing what."
In 2005 the Saudi royal family approved plans to construct 4,500 Islamic seminaries or madrassas in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The cost of this operation is an estimated $35 million. The aim of these madrassas is to promote "modern and liberal education with Islamic values".
An examination of Saudi Arabia's "modern and liberal" education was published in Spring, 2006 by Freedom House, entitled Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance. This report analyzed textbooks in Saudi schools which maintained that "Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believer" and that the "clash between the two realms is perpetual". Students were told not to greet, befriend, imitate or respect unbelievers. Spreading Islam through jihad was said to be a "religious duty". These textbooks are employed in the education of 5 million children in 25,000 schools in Saudi Arabia, and at hundreds of schools abroad.
Earlier, another report was published by Freedom House in the winter of 2004-5, entitled Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques. Volunteer researchers were sent to 15 US mosques, and gathered more than 200 books and publications. The majority of these tracts were written in Arabic. These told worshippers to reject Christianity, as "churches are houses of God and that God is worshiped therein is an infidel."
The publications also told people to hate their non-Muslim servants, demanded that women be shrouded in veils, and forbade Muslims from being employed in the service of an unbeliever. The mosques where such materials were gathered were in California, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, and Washington DC.
A report by terror analyst Jean-Charles Brisard, compiled for the UN Security Council in December 2002, stated that between 1992 and 2002, al-Qaeda received between $300 million and $500 million from Saudi businessmen and banks. This represented 20% of Saudi GNP.
According to Brisard, Abdullah Bin Abul Moshin al Turki, the secretary general of the Muslim World League (founded in Mecca in 1962), entered into business negotiations in Spain with Muhammad Zouaydi in 1999. Zouaydi was al-Qaida's main fundraiser in Europe. Abdullah al Turki was an adviser to the late King Fahd. In November 2003, Turki was awarded a prize by King Abdullah for his missionary work.
The Saudis have long encouraged almsgiving, or zakat, but even when these charity donations helped to fund terror, they seemed unwilling to take responsibility. In November 2002, Prince Salman, governor of Riyadh Province and brother of King Fahd, said: "If beneficiaries had used assistance for evil acts, that is not our responsibility at all."
Such attitudes have only helped to fog the issues of Saudi funding and influence in relation to extremism and terrorism. On December 22, 2003 a letter from the Senate Finance Committee was sent to the IRS, requesting information on 25 organizations operating on US soil, which were suspected of funding terrorism.
Among these were two Saudi-based charities, Al Haramain and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). The latter charity's funds were strictly controlled by Prince Salman, who in 2002 claimed not to care about the ultimate destinations of zakat. Documents recovered in Palestinian territories in 2002-3 under Israel's Operation Defensive Shield found that $280,000 had been sent by IIRO to charities run by the terrorist group Hamas. Prince Sultan, Saudi's defense minister, is a major contributor to IIRO funding.
The US Treasury has designated international branches of Al-Haramain and IIRO. Philippines IIRO (headed by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law) and Indonesia IIRO were designated on August 3, 2006, but perhaps for diplomatic reasons, the Saudi branches have not been designated. IIRO has links with the Muslim World League. In December 2005, the head of the Virginia branch of MWL, Abdullah Alnoshan was deported. He had been arrested in July by immigration and FBI officials from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, accused of utilizing fake employment documents.
On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, US Treasury undersecretary Stuart Levey claimed that rich Saudi individuals were a "significant source" of global Islamist terror funding. Levey told a Senate committee hearing on terror financing that the Muslim World League and other Saudi charities "continue to cause us concern". The claims were denied by the secretary general of the Muslim World League. Dr. Abdullah Al-Turki has frequently condemned terrorism, but the MWL has a strong Wahhabist agenda.
According to the Jamestown Foundation, the MWL spreads "radical and vehemently anti-American" propaganda, and also has an agenda specifically targeting Europe. The Saudis began a policy of globally disseminating their brand of Sunni Islam during the 1980s, as a reaction to the Iranian (Shia) revolution. According to former CIA director R. James Woolsey, the Saudis have spent nearly $90 billion spreading their ideology around the globe since the 1970s.
One individual who was religiously educated for several years in Saudi Arabia was Abdullah al-Faisal. Faisal arrived in Britain in 1991, sponsored by Saudi religious authorities. For 12 years he preached up and down the country, preaching at mosques and Islamic centers. During this time he never did a day's honest work, and claimed welfare benefits. The costs of his extensive travel around Britain would not have been covered by state benefits alone. A friend of Abu Hamza, the hook-handed Islamist who preached war against Jews and infidels, Faisal's sermons were no less inflammatory.
Faisal was born in Jamaica as Trevor William Forest, to devout Christian parents. He had left Jamaica aged 16, gone to South America and finally arrived in Saudi Arabia. He studied Islam at university in Riyadh. On he was finally jailed on charges of "soliciting murder" and "racial incitement". These were the same charges with which Hamza was convicted on February 7, 2006. Outside the Old Bailey courtroom where he was convicted, Muslims denounced the sentence of nine years imposed upon Faisal. This sentence was later reduced to seven years.
Bizarrely, setting an uncomfortable precedent in British law, no Jews or Hindus were allowed to serve as jury members. It was also revealed that during the trial of the officially "poor" cleric, the judge, Peter Beaumont, had received a letter from Scotland, offering a £50,000 ($98,000) bribe.
Faisal's sermons took the Saudi Wahhabist ideology to extremes. The materials which appear shocking in Saudi textbooks and mosque guidebooks seem tame, compared to Faisal's utterances. He taught mothers not to bring up their sons as "wimps", but to prime for jihad by buying them toy guns and weaponry.
He claimed that it was acceptable for Muslims to kill Jews, Hindus or Americans. These are a few of his statements:
One statement he made ominously suggested that the Saudi royal family sponsored terror. He said: "Do you, like many, cry because you are poor? If so, wage jihad! Look at all the money stashed away in Swiss banks. There's bank in Brunei where King Fahd has deposited 30 million dollars. If you are suffering from poverty, wage jihad and see the money pour into your hands."
Faisal said that Princess Diana and Prince Philip would be "tossed into the hellfire to abide forever". He claimed that British law was "put together by the henchmen of Satan, people who are gays and devil worshippers." He even suggested that power stations should be fueled with the bodies of slaughtered Hindus.
After Faisal's conviction, his veiled Pakistani-born wife Zubaida tried to justify her husband's statements. She said: "When he said, 'If you see a Hindu walking down the road you are allowed to kill him and take his money', he was talking about a war-like situation such as the problems between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir." She continued: "When he said, 'How wonderful it is to kill a kaffir, he was quoting from holy scriptures. He is a man of God, a good father, and a very good husband. If he were a terrorist, he would not have chosen to speak in public."
Though he may not have been a terrorist, Faisal's preachings were disseminated on audio cassettes and DVDs and his sermons were, like thoseof Abu Hamza, heard by people who went on to commit terror. He was also a friend of James Ujaama. Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers, had a collection of Faisal's tapes at his home, which were found after he blew himself up. The leader of the four-man cell which killed 52 people on London Transport was Mohammed Sidique Khan.
Khan, and also Shehzad Tanweer, another 7/7 bomber, had worshipped at the Al-Madina Masjid mosque in Tunstall Road, Beeston. Abdullah al-Faisal had preached at this mosque, and Khan had been in attendance. The senior imam at this mosque, Hamid Ali, has called the four bombers Faisal's "children". The imam recalled that when Abdullah al-Faisal preached, Mohammed Sidique Khan asked him several questions.
Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit, said after Faisal's conviction: "We will never know how many of those young, impressionable people whom El-Faisal spoke to then went abroad to areas of conflict or training camps and have never returned. We have very good grounds for believing that some people actually did go abroad as a result of listening to him."
Whether Faisal continued to be funded by Saudi Arabia after he was
paid to journey to Britain is unknown. But it is plain that it was in
Saudi Arabia, exposed to the Wahhabist doctrines taught at the Imam
Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, that Faisal became radicalized.
Saudi Arabia's influence in establishing mosques around the world has been condoned by the House of Saud. In 1963, Belgium had a small Muslim population, and in a small rented building in a Brussels suburb, the Islamic Center of Belgium (CIB) was born. The following year, King Faisal visited Belgium. A virulent anti-Semite, Faisal is said to have been swayed by the 19th century anti-Semitic Russian forgery - "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and thus he disseminated copies throughout his kingdom. During the Saudi monarch's visit to Belgium, King Baudouin gave him a plot of land in a prime parkland site in Molenbeek, Brussels. In 1968, Faisal approved Saudi government funding of the construction of a CIB mosque in this new location.
After Faisal's assassination in March 1975, his successor, King Khaled Ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud, opened the "Grand Mosque" of the CIB in 1978. It remains the largest mosque in Belgium. The CIB controls other smaller mosques. Despite royal patronage, the CIB is not exempt from accusations of extremism.
On January 26, 2006, 27-year-old Abdel Rahman Ayachi was arrested with 31-year old Raphael Gendron. The pair had maintained the CIB website, Assabyle.com, which contained virulent propaganda. The material on the CIB website was first exposed in the Belgian press in February 2002, but it took four years for the webmasters to be arrested. The pair were sentenced to short jail sentences with fines on June 21.
Some of the tracts from the now-defunct website can still be found, and these come directly from the heart of Wahhabist Saudi Arabia. One of the authors, Osama Khayyat, is an imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Awdah has written, in an article called "Virtues of Martyrdom" and formerly published on the CIB website (my translation): "Slaves of Allah! The Jews are described in the Book of Allah as those who distort the utterances and the deeds decreed by Allah, and take them out of context. This is exactly what they do in the same way as the tyrants of this world who support them. They use false terminology to lead astray, to confound and to deceive. What your brothers (Palestinian terrorists) do in their battle at Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem) are not acts of gratuitous violence, but moreover it is a blessed uprising to resist and to diminish the Jewish oppression and is against their aggression."
The situation in Belgium is no different from other countries, where Saudi money has supported mosques which promote extremist views. The exact number of mosques which have been established by the Saudi administration is not known. In 2002, the Saudi Embassy in Washington proclaimed that it had established 210 Islamic centers in Europe, North and South America, Australia, and Asia.
King Fahd (who had been debilitated by a stroke in 1995) was said to have personally funded mosques in Toronto, Buenos Aires, the Maldives, N'djamena and Edinburgh, as well as the giant King Fahd Islamic Center in Malaga, Spain. In addition to these officially funded mosques, a host of others exist, funded by Saudi charities and the zakat of Saudi businessmen.
In Whitechapel, east London, the East London Mosque was built with Saudi money. It is six stories high and can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. It opened its doors in June 2004. The inaugural sermon was made by a visitor from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, senior imam at the Grand Mosque of the Ka'abah at Mecca.
Sudeis (at left) told worshippers that the UK Muslim community had taken "great steps towards achieving community cohesion." He said: "Muslims should exemplify the true image of Islam in their interaction with other communities and dispel any misconceptions portrayed in some parts of the media."
This message is typical of Wahhabists and others who blame non-Muslim media, and not Muslim extremists and terrorists, for tarnishing Islam's image. Sudeis himself is an extremist and an anti-Semite. He has said: "Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers... the scum of the human race 'whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs...' These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption." In another sermon, Sudeis has called Jews "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs."
The chairman of the East London Mosque is Dr. Abdul Bari, who was elected to the position of secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain in June 2006. When confronted by BBC journalist John Ware, Bari refused to accept that Sudeis had ever said anything anti-Semitic.
The mosques funded by Saudi money promote, almost without exception, a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam that is close to Wahhabism. Azzedine Gaci, head of a regional Muslim Council in the Rhone area of southern France stated: "When Saudi Arabia gives you 1 million euros with one hand, with the other they give you a list you must or must not say."
In the United States, Saudi-funded mosques have been at the forefront of controversy. The US-born individual who now manages the propaganda videos produced by Al Qaeda is 29-year-old Adam Gadahn. His first introduction to practicing Islam was at the Saudi-built mosque of the Islamic Society of Orange County, California in 1995, when he was 17. He became part of a group of radicals at the mosque and soon fell out with Haitham Bundakji, the imam, and went on to Pakistan.
The imam at the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Los Angeles was Fahad al Thumairy , an accredited diplomat at the Saudi consulate from 1996 to 2003. He was barred from re-entering the US on May 6, 2003, after the US State Department suggested he could be linked to terrorist activity.
One of the largest mosque building projects in the United States involves the Islamic Society of Boston, which is currently involved in a lawsuit against 14 individuals and organizations whom it accuses of "defamation." According to the Boston Globe, the plan to build the Roxbury mosque was financed by the Islamic Development Bank. On January 9 this year, the society admitted that in late 2005, it had received a loan of $1 million from this bank, funds which paid for construction costs.
The principal owners of the bank are Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran, and Egypt. The Islamic Society of Boston admits that in its early fund-raising, 30 percent of its money came from Saudis. The mosque is estimated to cost $24 million, and will have a 125-foot minaret and a 75-foot dome.
ISB has a bad history of association with extremism. Dr. Walid Fatahi, a treasurer and trustee of the group, apparently wrote in an Arabic newspaper on March 2004 that Jews were the "murderers of Prophets" and would be punished for their "oppression, murder and rape of the worshipers of Allah."
Six months later, after numerous complaints, ISB published on its website a statement which claimed that Fitahi had, "intended to condemn particular individuals whom he believes were working to destroy one of Islam's holiest sites, killing innocent children, and thereby blocking the possibility of peace in the Middle East; the articles were not meant to incite hatred of an entire faith or people."
One of the eight founders of the ISB is Abdurahman Alamoudi, who in October 2004 received a 23-year sentence for his involvement in financing terrorism, and plotting an assassination. Another former trustee of the ISB is the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
The issue of the litigious Islamic Society of Boston was taken up by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in January, 2006. Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's legal director, said: "Unfortunately, I see the Boston case as indicative of a growing trend in anti-Muslim rhetoric that has grown after 9/11. It has especially impacted local Muslim communities in terms of building their mosques. High concentrations of Muslim populations are being given a hard time for just trying to practice their faith."
A class action lawsuit against CAIR, filed by relatives of the victims who died in the 9/11 attacks, states: "CAIR was founded by donations from the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization, World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), and International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO).
CAIR is funded by terrorists. The International Institute of Islamic Thought, an organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, donated money in 2003, according to its tax filings. Additionally, the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) gave CAIR $250,000 in August 1999. The IDB also manages funds for the Al-Quds which finance suicide bombings against Israeli civilians by providing funds to the families of Palestinian 'martyrs'.
A fund-raiser for CAIR was Rabih Haddad. This individual was a co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation, which was designated by the US Treasury under Executive Order 13224 on October 18, 2002. During the early 1990s, Haddad worked for Makhtab al-Khidamat (MAK) in Pakistan. MAK was a precursor of Al Qaeda.
From 1997 to October 2001, Randall Todd "Ismail" Royer was CAIR's "Communications Specialist." He was also "Civil Rights Coordinator." He was indicted on charges of conspiring to help Al Qaida and the Taliban to battle American troops in Afghanistan. On January 16, 2004, he pleaded guilty to lesser offenses and was convicted of weapons and explosives charges in connection to a terrorist related offense. He admitted assisting four people to gain entry to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan operated by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
CAIR was co-founded by Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, who were members of the Islamic Association for Palestine. Omar Ahmad has famously said: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
Other individuals from CAIR have been involved with supporting terrorism, such as Ghassin Elashi, who was founder of the Texas chapter. In April 2005, he was convicted of knowingly doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior leader of terrorist group Hamas.
Despite these negative aspects, CAIR, which claims to have 31 offices and chapters in the US and Canada, has been entertained by the US government. Executive director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, has been entertained at the US State Department's annual "iftar dinners."
A group listed by 9/11 relatives as providing funds to help start CAIR is the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). In November 8, 2005, Daniel L. Glaser of the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes submitted testimony to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He said: "Saudi Arabia has taken steps to bring its charities and NGOs under control. We have, however, been repeatedly raising the issue of so-called international NGOs, namely the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), and the Muslim World League (MWL). The Saudis have responded that charitable organizations and these international NGOs are de facto prohibited from sending funds abroad. It is not clear to us that this de facto prohibition is having true effect and we remain deeply concerned about this issue."
In June 2004, the US offices of WAMY in Alexandria, Northern Virginia, were raided by FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The US branch of WAMY was founded by Abdullah bin Laden, Osama's nephew. Computers were taken away and since then, WAMY has not had an official presence in the United States. Its U.S. publications included anti-Semitic content, including "The Jews are humanity's enemies: they foment immorality in this world."
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth was founded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1972, under the patronage of the Saudi royal family. It has branches in 55 nations, and links with 500 youth organizations around the globe. Despite its dubious associations, it is nonetheless affiliated with the United Nations. Its current secretary-general is Dr. Saleh Al-Wohaibi. The FBI appear to have been interested in WAMY's activities since 1996.
In 2002, the head of the Islamic Community of Germany, Ibrahim el-Zayat was investigated by German federal police. Their report, seen by the Wall Street Journal, alleged that Zayat had transferred funds worth more than $2 million, on behalf of WAMY. Some of these funds were sent to a charity called Taibah. On May 6, 2004 the Bosnian branch of Taibah was designated by the U.S. Treasury, accused of funneling funds to Al Qaeda.
According to Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN and President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, WAMY was, along with the Muslim World League, "suspected by various global intelligence organizations of terrorist funding." He stated that in October 2002, while the Saudi Embassy in Washington was claiming that "charitable groups have been closely monitored and additional audits have been performed to assure that there are no links to suspected groups," WAMY was inviting Khaled Mashal, a senior leader of terror group Hamas, to its Riyadh headquarters for a conference.
Dr. Gold told the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on July 31, 2003: "The Saudi Grand Mufti, who is also a Saudi cabinet member, chairs the Constituent Council of the Muslim World League. The Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs chairs the secretariat of WAMY and the administrative council of al-Haramain."
Al-Haramain received large donations from the Saudi royal family. Its international branches were involved in funding Al Qaeda. Omar al Faruq was Al Qaeda's senior representative in Southeast Asia. He was arrested by Indonesian authorities on June 5, 2002. According to Jean-Charles Brisard, al Faruq confessed: "Al Haramain was the funding mechanism of all operations in Indonesia. Money was laundered through the foundation by donors from the Middle East."
On March 11 2002, the Bosnian and Somali branches of Al Haramain were designated by the US Treasury, and in a simultaneous move, the accounts of these charities were blocked by the Saudi government. The Somali branch was responsible for sending money to Al Qaeda and its related terror group Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya (AIAI). AIAI was led by Sheikh Hassan Dir Aweys, who recently headed the Islamists in Somalia. This group was responsible for bombings in Addis Ababa, kidnappings, and also the 1998 attack upon a Jewish owned hotel in Kenya, killing 3 people.
In 2003, the Saudi government ordered that all of Al Haramain's offshore branches be closed, but monitoring proved that the branches were still functional. On January 22, 2004, the charity's branches Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Pakistan were jointly designated by the US Treasury and the Saudi government. On June 2, 2004, the two nations designated Al Haramain's branches in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Netherlands. The head of Al Haramain, Aqeel Abdul Aziz Al-Aqil, was also designated.
According to Saudi royal adviser Adel Al-Jubeir, Al Haramain was raising $40 to $50 million per annum at its peak.
The US branch of Al Haramain was founded in 1997 by Soliman al-Buthe, who was named its attorney by the head of the Al Haramain Foundation. The main base of Al Haramain U.S. was in Ashland, Oregon, with another center in Springfield, Missouri.
In Ashland, an Iranian called Pirouz Sedaghaty, aka Pete Seda, managed the group's day to day affairs. He ran a group called Arabian Nights, to introduce people to Islam. To this end he also purchased a camel, which he took to the local July 4 parade. He also distributed copies of a Quran, which was produced by the Saudi Al Haramain headquarters. In Appendix 3 of this book, readers are advised to "race to jihad" and in that race to include missiles, planes and ships against the enemies of Allah.
The Oregon branch of Al Haramain was raided by FBI agents in February 2003. Al Haramain U.S. was designated as a terrorist organization on September 9, 2004.
On February 16, 2005, the US branch of Al Haramain, along with Pete Seda and Soliman al-Buthe were the subjects of a three point indictment. It was claimed that in February 2000, an Egyptian individual offered the group $150,000 to assist the jihad in Chechnya. Soliman al-Buthe had come to Oregon, and with Seda had drawn out the funds in the form of travelers' checks. He then left the country without declaring these funds.
By the time of the indictment, both Seda and al-Buthe had left the United States. On July 21, 2006, a court ordered that all of Al Haramain's literature which had been confiscated, including the controversial copies of the Quran, be returned to Tom Nelson, the group's attorney. Nelson said that he would be giving the material. "My goal is to do what was intended and give it to anyone who is interested. Friend or foe," he said.
The founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab, wrote little. All that remains of his written teachings can be found in a book called Kitab al-Tawhid, the "Book of Monotheism." In Chapter 36 of this book, Wahhab stated that no one should obey a scholar or ruler if the scholar or ruler contradicts the Qur'an or the Sunnah (actions of the Prophet) in any way.
As a result, there are Wahhabists within Saudi Arabia's government and Royal family, yet also there are Wahhabists among the religious authorities and population who believe the government and Royal family are committing shirk. This means literally "polytheism", and practically means any behavior which is in contradiction of "tawhid." Shirk was regarded by Wahhab as "the most dangerous of all sins, the wickedest and the most severely punished." In chapter 2 of Kitab al-Tawhid, even minor shirk is regarded as dangerous, because of its corrupting influence.
On May 12, 2003, Al Qaeda mounted its first attack within Saudi territory, with vehicle bombs detonating at three housing compounds for foreign workers. Nine U.S. civilians were among the 26 people killed. There followed a wave of subsequent attacks, forcing the Saudi government to take some responsibility for international terrorism. Arrests and extraditions took place. Even though the Saudis took a more pro-active stance against terrorism, they continued to export the same Wahhabist ideology which engenders hate and terrorism.
As Dore Gold said in September 2004: "The Saudis have been jolted
by the Al Qaeda threat. At the same time, they are ideologically
committed to supporting jihad externally."
On Monday, January 15, UK television aired a documentary on Channel Four, entitled "Undercover Mosques". This program has caused something of a seismic shock, with reactions to its broadcast being felt in Canada, Pakistan and Israel. It has also led to government reaction in Australia. Versions can be found on HotAir and h YouTube and LittleGreenFootballs.com (Flash Player required). The documentary needs to be seen in its entirety.
Channel Four sent an undercover reporter to the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, where he filmed secretly for four months. This mosque is the headquarters of the Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith. The preachers at this mosque were shown inciting hate against "unbelievers", called disparagingly "Kuffaar" or "kaffir".
This of itself should raise concern, but the Markaz Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith has 41 other mosques and faith schools under its influence. More disturbingly still, it is a registered charity, listed by the Charities Commission (Number 272001), and has been in existence as a charity since January 3, 1976. The Charities Commission has a lax interpretation of what constitutes a "charity", as I demonstrated earlier in the case of Interpal. Ahl-e-Hadith claims on the Charities Commission register that its objective is "the advancement of the religion of Islam", though its "area of benefit" is not defined.
The Channel Four documentary showed that the Green Lane mosque's brand of Islam is pure Wahhabism. Via video links, members of the mosque sometimes communicate directly with the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. In one of these sessions, the Grand Mufti is asked by a Birmingham believer for a fatwa about understanding between religions.
The Grand Mufti is asked: "Some people think we shouldn't call Christians and Jews Kuffar and we should establish good relations with them. What's your answer to this?"
The Mufti replies: "This is not true. Jews and Christians who do not follow the Prophet Mohammed are Kuffar. They will go to Hell... Anyone who helps or defends an apostate, or a pagan, or an atheist, or anyone who attacks Islam, will be cursed."
The Grand Mufti is Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh. He has condemned the 9/11 attacks, but is supportive of cyber-terrorism. He has issued a fatwa approving the hacking of websites which attacked Islam, saying "if you are unable to respond to it, and you wanted to destroy it and you have the ability to do so, its ok to destroy it because it is an evil website."
Al-Sheikh is the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, Chairman of the Senior Ulema, and also a member of the Saudi government. He objects to men and women mingling ("khalwat") and believes women should always be veiled. On the Channel Four documentary, the Grand Mufti is shown on a Saudi TV broadcast from March 2006 saying: "Tell your children to pray when they are seven, and hit them when they are ten".
The Green Lanes mosque frequently has guest preachers, and one of these is a man calling himself "Abu Usama". This man is a black American, born in 1964. Formerly from Paterson, New Jersey he became a convert to Islam in 1986. He now, according to one source, lives in Queens, New York. He was educated at the Islamic University of Madina, which he attended for eight years, graduating from the College of Da'wah and Usool-ad-Din. His sermons can be found on the internet, and they are not messages of peace and harmony.
Usama, whose full name is Abu Usaamah Adh-Dhahabi, has worked as a translator, and has been an imam at various mosques in the United States. His audio cassettes, which are of poor technical standard, can be found in various archives on the internet. In his native America, Abu Usama has not been making many appearances since 2004, when he fell foul of the Salafi Muslim community. An interesting condemnation by the Salafist Da`ee Abu Awais Abdullah Alee from Philadelphia can be found here or here (MP3 format).
Usama's audio sermons still seem popular amongst the members of the Muslim Students Associations at various US universities and colleges, such as that at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Here, students can listen to his tape: "If you are visited by the FBI".
In Britain, Usama has a ready audience. He has given talks at schools and universities. He is shown in the Channel Four documentary at Green Lane mosque, saying: "No-one loves the kuffaar, no-one loves the kuffaar, not a single person here from the Muslims loves the kuffaar, whether those kuffaar are from the UK or the US. We love the people of Islam and we hate the people of kufr, we hate the kuffaar."
He describes all non-Muslims as liars, stating: "I don't believe them, because they are kuffaar, lying is part of their religion. They are liars, they are terrorists themselves, liars, they will come before the people and talk and they are lying, you can't believe them, these are pathological liars ."
On terrorists, Usama states on a Green Lane mosque internet broadcast: "I don't agree with those individuals, but at the same time they are closer to me than those criminals of the kuffaar. He's better than a million George Bushes, Osama Bin Laden, and he's better than a thousand Tony Blairs, because he's a Muslim."
In another internet broadcast, Usama says: "Allah has created the woman, even if she gains a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete. Deficient. She may be suffering from hormones...that will make her emotional. It takes two witnesses of the woman to equal the one witness of the man."
It is strange that Usama allows himself to appear in such internet broadcasts and to appear on video, as I found an internet sermon in which he states that it is expressly forbidden to take photographs, or even to draw, any human being, and even an animal.
He is heard on the documentary saying: "Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain." His DVDs, in which his face appears are equally uncompromising. In one, entitled "The Major Sins", from 2005, he says: "Whoever changes his religion from Islam to anything else - kill him in the Islamic state."
The hate-filled sermons preached at Green Lane mosque were often attended by children, and in one section of footage, a man called Sheikh Al-Jibali states: "What is sad to see is that for many parents they send their children to the kuffaar school. They allow them to mix with the kuffaar, so that the lifestyle and the beliefs of the kuffaar become deep rooted in the hearts of the kids."
Another preacher at Green Lane mosque is Dr Ijaz Mian, who told a meeting within the mosque: "We have to rule ourselves and we have to rule the others."
The Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, headquartered at Green Lane mosque, has already been exposed for its segregationist and offensive outlook. On Sunday, August 21, 2005, the BBC showed a documentary on its Panorama strand "A Question of Leadership", made by journalist John Ware. In this he examined the Muslim Council of Britain. At that time, the website of the group urged Muslims to "be different from Jews and Christians" whose "ways are based on sick or deviant views".
John Ware confronted Iqbal Sacranie with this information. Ahl-e-Hadith was then, and still is, affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain. Sacranie said: "I'm not a member of Ahle Hadith but it's a membership that we have, it's diversity that exists in the community, having different views on life."
The current head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, has condemned Channel Four, saying the documentary "mischievously tried to prove that key Muslim institutions are teaching exact opposite to Islam commanding Muslims to deal positively and peacefully with those around us." He said the producers were "resorting to the dishonest tactic of selectively quoting from some recorded speeches for purpose of misrepresentation. Their aim is to attach guilt by association. This continuing demonization of British Muslims and risible attempt at promoting sectarianism among British Muslims will be firmly rejected."
Bari, echoing the complacency of his predecessor, is refusing to accept that there is a problem in one of the 400 groups that the MCB claims to represent. He would rather blame non-Muslims for exposing the words coming from Muslim mouths.
The most "devout" worshippers at Green Lane are being offered scholarships to study at Islamic universities in Saudi Arabia. The aim, states Dr Irfan Al Alawi, a UK academic, is to create a new generation of Muslim imams and teachers.
Another preacher at the Green Lane mosque is Dr Bilal Phillips, who was born in Jamaica and became a convert. A list of his lectures can be found on his website. He was shown at Green Lane, saying that it is permissible to marry off a girl before puberty. The Prophet Mohammed became betrothed to a six year old girl, Aisha, when he was in his 50s. He consummated the marriage when Aisha was nine, according to the Hadiths of Tabari and Bukhari.
On the documentary, Phillips states: "The Prophet Mohammed practically outlined the rules regarding marriage prior to puberty, with his practice he clarified what is permissible and that is why we shouldn't have any issues about an older man marrying a younger woman, which is looked down upon by this society today, but we know that Prophet Mohammed practiced it, it wasn't abuse or exploitation, it was marriage."
It was child abuse and would be classed now as statutory rape, no matter how Phillips dresses it up. Phillips preaches in both the United States and Britain.
The documentary also visited the giant mosque in Regents Park, north London. This mosque had been built with a donation of £2 million ($3.95 million) from the Saudi monarchy. In the 1990s, the Saudis paid for its educational wing to be built. The mosque houses a bookstore, which is run by a British company, Dar-us Salam, linked to a company of the same name based in Saudi Arabia.
Here, videos of a jihadist nature were on sale. These included videos where one preacher, Feiz Mohammed, a former boxer, makes sermons. In the documentary, this Saudi-educated imam is shown saying: "The peak, the pinnacle, the crest, the highest point, the pivot, the summit, of Islam, is jihad. Today, many parents, they prevent their children from attending lessons, why? They fear they might create or place in their hearts, the love, just a bit of love, of sacrificing their lives for Allah. We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam. Teach them this, there is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid, put in their soft tender hearts the zeal of jihad and the love of martyrdom."
This was in a clip taken from a DVD from the "Death Series", by Islam Productions. This cleric, of Lebanese origin, is based in Australia. Long before Australia's Mufti, Taj Din al-Hilaly, made his comments in September 2006 that women who were not covered by veils invited rape, Feiz Mohammed was making similar remarks.
On March 18 2005, at Bankstown Town Hall in Sydney, he said at a lecture on "Death": "A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world... Strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans: all this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."
Feiz Mohammed said: "Would you put this sheep that you adore in the middle of hungry wolves? No . . . It would be devoured. It's the same situation here. You're putting this precious girl in front of lustful, satanic eyes of hungry wolves. What is the consequence? Catastrophic devastation, sexual harassment, perversion, promiscuity."
Feiz Mohammed is head of the Global Islamic Youth Center in Liverpool, Sydney, which has about 4,000 followers, mostly of Lebanese Muslim origin. His videos, which were also on sale outside Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, have been found to be on sale in Australia, and there has been strong reaction.
He fled from Australia to Lebanon in November 2005, after 23 people were arrested on November 8 in Melbourne and Sydney on terror charges. The individuals were accused of plotting an attack upon a nuclear reactor in Lucas Heights in Sydney.
As a result of the revelations in the Channel Four documentary, the leader of the opposition in Australia, Kevin Rudd, has said that Feiz Mohammed should not return to the country. He has said that the Saudi-educated preachers' comments on the DVDs "add up to an incitement to terrorism." Kevin Andrews, acting Attorney-General, says the DVDs are "importation of hatred" and says an investigation has been launched. The premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, has asked the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, to have the DVDs withdrawn from sale in Australia, and the federal police are also investigating the matter.
The DVDs of Feiz Mohammed and other radical preachers were pointed out to the management of the Regents Park Mosque, and they were subsequently withdrawn from its bookshop to be reviewed.
The Director General of Regents Park Mosque is Saudi-born Dr Ahmed al-Dubayan. When he took over as director of the mosque and Islamic Cultural Center (ICC), he was granted diplomatic status by the Saudi government. This privilege has been granted to every head of the mosque since it began, even if they were not Saudi nationals.
This diplomatic status came in handy for Dubayan, when he was granted diplomatic immunity during a sexual discrimination case launched by his personal secretary, a woman called Mrs Nahid Mahmoud. She had been accused of "witchcraft" and "black magic". She won her case on September 12, 2006.
Dubayan told Channel Four: "It is false and misleading to make the sweeping generalization that the teachings from Saudi Arabia promote extremism, and it is also false to assert that the ICC is dominated by the influence of such teachings.
The Saudi government told the program makers: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, governed in accordance with the teachings of the Shari'a. Islam is a religion of tolerance and respects the rights of all people, regardless of gender, age, religion or race. Islam is a religion without national borders. There is no such thing as "the religious establishment" in Saudi Arabia. Here, as in every society, one can find extremists, as well as conservatives and moderates. Saudi Arabia does not support radical or extreme ideology but strongly condemns all those seeking to politicize Islam, preaching, inciting or fostering hatred and violence, or legitimizing terrorist activities. To this end, many imams have been re-educated in recent years and a misguided few have been dismissed."
Another preacher featured on the DVDs on sale at Green Lane mosque, and who is based in Britain, is an American convert, Sheikh Khalid Yasin. He lectures around the world. In the US, he appeared last year at Penn State university, a guest of the Muslim Students Association.
Yasin, who also studied in Saudi Arabia, has said on the DVD "Changing the World through Da'wah": We don't need to go to the Christians or the Jews, debating with them about the filth which they believe. We Muslims have been ordered to do brainwashing!! Because the kuffaar - they are doing brain defiling...... You are watching the kaffir TVs, and your wife is watching it right now, and your children are watching it right now, and they are being polluted, and they are being penetrated, and they are being infected, so that your children and you go out as Muslims and you come back to the house as kaffirs."
On a DVD called "Some Advice to the Muslim women" he states: "This whole delusion of the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness. There's no such thing."
On another, entitled "Jihad or Terrorism" he says: "Now missionaries, from the World Health Organization, and Christian - and Christian groups, went into Africa and inoculated people, for diptheria, malaria, yellow fever, and they put in the medicine, the AIDS virus. Which is a conspiracy!"
Another mosque was featured in the documentary, based in Sparkbrook, Birmingham. Here, a deputy headmaster of an Islamic high school, Darul Uloom in Birmingham, told a conference that he disagreed with the word "democracy". He stated: "They should call it... kuffrocracy, that's their plan. It's the hidden cancerous aim of these people." The teacher has since been removed from his post at the school.
At a mosque in Derby, also run by the Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith who govern Green Lane mosque. Here, a traveling preacher called Dr Ijaz Mian praises the Saudi religious police, or muttawa, as they can imprison people for not praying. Mian studied Islam for six years at the Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, where Abdullah el-Faisal also studied. He says he wants religious police in Britain. He states that Muslims should not accept democracy, and claims that Muslims will one day take over Britain.
The Sparkbrook mosque is run by the UK Islamic Mission (UKIM), a group described by Tony Blair as "extremely valued by the government particularly for its multi-faith and multicultural activities". The UKIM, which runs Sparkbrook, works with the police, yet one speaker at the mosque is shown saying that Muslims should not work with police. In the documentary, a preacher at this Mosque is shown to be praising the Taliban.
The imam states: "There was an individual who was killed in Afghanistan recently. A Muslim name, he came from a Pakistani family. Do you know what they had written in a tabloid newspaper? 'Hero of Islam'. 'Hero of Islam' who went into Muslim Afghanistan to kill Muslims. Why? Because their crime is implementing Islam. The 'Hero of Islam' is the one who separated his head from his shoulders."
The soldier referred to was 24-year old Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, who was killed in Helmand province in 2006. When Anjem Choudary, former UK leader of Al-Muhajiroun, wrote a polemic against this soldier on his website, Lance Corporal Hashmi's family were deeply upset. The soldier's brother Zeeshar had said: "You can be proud to be Muslim and British - the two don't have to be separate."
For many Muslims subjected to Saudi Arabian teachings, it appears that this notion is completely alien.
This series appeared in Family Security Matters, beginning with
Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for Spero News. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.
Part 1: 15jan07, www.familysecuritymatters.org/terrorism.php?id=600205:
Part 2: 16jan07, www.familysecuritymatters.org/terrorism.php?id=609192
Part 3: 17jan07 www.familysecuritymatters.org/index.php?id=615881
The original articles contain live links to additional material.
This series appeared in Family Security Matters, beginning with
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