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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 06, 2003

REINING IN RIYADH

Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, presents extracts from his new book "Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism." He traces the growth of radical Islam within Saudi Arabia, and shows it's connection to terror and what needs to be done to change things. Read this brief piece to get the historical background that has led to the present state of terror by way of Saudi Arabia
[...]But the Saudi charities also facilitated the growth of Islamic militancy, subsidizing, for example, the flow of men and material to conflict areas. After the death of Abdullah Azzam in 1989, his successor, Osama bin Laden, used the charities to pay the salaries of his al Qaeda operatives around the world.

THE International Islamic Relief Organizations (IIRO), in particular, was repeatedly identified as a conduit for funding to the Abu Sayyaf organization, which fought the government in the Philippines, to al-Khattab's militia in Russia, and to terrorist networks in East Africa. In fact, IIRO payment schedules to Hamas were found by Israel. And if IIRO was involved in terrorism in each of these areas, that meant the Saudi government was involved as well.

In recent years, the connection between the Saudi government and its Wahhabi charities was graphically laid out in court testimony given in Canada by a local representative of the Muslim World League: "Let me tell you one thing. The Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO, is a fully government-funded organization. In other words, I work for the government of Saudi Arabia. Second, the IIRO is the relief branch of that organization, which means we are all controlled in all our activities and plans by the government of Saudi Arabia."

WHAT will be essential after Iraq is getting Saudi Arabia to change its ways.

It is not necessary to talk about regime change in Saudi Arabia. And it would be a mistake to focus on Wahhabi Islam, as its Muslim detractors insist; but it is legitimate to insist that Saudi Arabia finally address some of its more noticeable external manifestations.

First, the Saudi regime must stop using its large Wahhabi charities to fund terrorist groups, once and for all. Unfortunately, it looks like the Saudis are making a far greater effort at covering up these faults, with expensive p.r. efforts, rather than actually halting their contacts with these organizations.

It is also legitimate to expect that Saudi Arabia stop the systematic incitement of its population against the West and non-Wahhabi religious groups. Of course, Saudi Arabia is free to teach what it wants to its children, but there are consequences that result from the systematic delegitimization of other peoples by Saudi Arabia's national educational institutions.

IT was no coincidence that Osama bin Laden recruited 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia. In the 1990s, Saudis were the largest national component brought into the al Qaeda network because they were predisposed to its message. Saudi Arabia should not continue to be a breeding ground for these groups.

Diplomats are trained to deal chiefly with classic international problems like the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It comes to them naturally to become engrossed in its details, even before the Iraqi issue is resolved. But if terrorism is to be put to an end, altering the behavior of Saudi Arabia must become a top postwar priority [more]