The Years of Terror (I)

LONDON/BERLIN/RIYADH | | saudi-arabien

LONDON/BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) - With its continued worldwide support for Salafis, Germany's close partner, Saudi Arabia, is relentlessly fertilizing the soil for the growth of jihadi terror, according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). "The consequences of Saudi Arabia's support for Salafism are catastrophic," the SWP concludes in light of IS/Daesh activities in Europe. British experts are also sharply criticizing cooperation with Riyadh. If one seriously wants to combat jihadi terror, one "should start by stopping the mass export of Wahhabism's intolerance and hatred from Saudi Arabia," an insider recommends. This is, however, countered by Germany, other European powers and North America's relentless cooperation with the Saudi ruling clan. Just a few weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel launched regular military cooperation with the Saudi armed forces. Out of consideration for Riyadh, the British government has been withholding an investigation, showing the - presumably Saudi - financiers of British jihadis. This had been made known only three days before the latest terror attack in London.

Recruiting Pools for Jihadis

The role Saudi Arabia plays in spreading jihadi structures throughout the world, was described in late May - not for the first time - by Guido Steinberg, a Middle East expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). With its repressive forces, Riyadh has become "a very effective partner in combating terrorism," since it had been, itself, the target of an attempted al-Qaeda coup in 2003, Steinberg writes. However, it undauntedly continues to propagate its specific Saudi Islam - Wahhabism or Salafism - internationally. Salafist milieux have become the "main recruiting pools for Jihadis."[1] "The Islamic State draws its beliefs from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of Islam," US journalist Fareed Zakaria confirms. Until it could write its own textbooks for its schools, the IS adopted "the Saudi curriculum." A former imam of the kingdom’s Grand Mosque in Mecca, confirmed last year that the Islamic State "exploited our own principles that can be found in our books." "We follow the same thought, but apply it in a refined way."[2] The main difference, according to Steinberg, lies in the fact that Jihadis decide for themselves "when to begin a Holy War (jihad) and do not leave this decision up to the ruler."

From Medina to IS

Using the example of Mirsad O, an imam in Austria, Steinberg demonstrates the smooth transition and "catastrophic consequences of Saudi Arabia's support for Salafism." Between 2003 and 2008, Mirsad O had studied at the Islamic University of Medina, the "Wahhabi mission center," SWP's expert writes.[3] When he returned to Austria, he began "to preach the Wahhabi beliefs, he had embraced in the Kingdom." He consistently "sided with the Wahhabis," who believe "that the Saudi Arabian state is an 'infidel' because of its alliance with the USA and because its laws that do not conform to those of the sharia. Therefore, the Saudi state must be fought." "In 2014, at the latest, he sided with the IS," Steinberg notes. "Because of his celebrity among Austrian and Bosnian Salafists" - studies at the University in Medina is considered particularly prestigious among Salafists - he could "recruit a large number of combatants for Syria" and "under the name, Ebu Teima, he has become the IS' most influential preacher and recruiter in Austria."

Riyadh's Raison d'État

Not only by dispatching preachers, but also with its financing of mosques and training centers, Saudi Arabia is promoting the spread of the Saudi variation of Islam, which structurally promotes jihadism in Europe. The best known example in Germany was the King Fahd Academy in Bonn, which was considered the nucleus of the Salafist scene in the Federal Republic of Germany. In Germany alone, the number of Salafists is estimated at over 10,000. It is from this milieu that jihadi terror arises. Since some time, Berlin has been applying a bit of pressure on Riyadh to cease its promotion of Salafism in the Federal Republic of Germany - albeit with negligent results. For Saudi Arabia, "worldwide missionizing remains its unaltered raison d'état and an element of its foreign policy," concluded a research undertaken last year by the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and the Federal Office of the Defense of the German Constitution.[4] Even if, for example, the King Fahd Academy would be closed at the end of the current curriculum, i.e. this summer (german-foreign-policy.com reported [5]) and Berlin's planned Wahhabi school never materializes, it is reasonable to assume that Saudi missionizing associations would not refrain "from continuing to expand their operations in Europe and in Germany."[6]

Meanwhile Deeply Rooted

This is also the case for Great Britain. Already ten years ago, an investigation pointed out that Saudi Arabia is trying to win comprehensive influence in mosques and Islamic schools in the United Kingdom. Saudi school textbooks, being used, propagate an "ideology of hate" toward Jews, Christians and other "infidels" and assert that the spread of Islam through jihad is a "religious obligation." Some Saudi textbooks describe Jews as "repugnant" and Christians as "pigs" and base their historical narrative on the anti-Semitic inflammatory pamphlet the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."[7] Following many years of Saudi indoctrination, one can easily imagine "how deep the roots of Salafist thought have embedded themselves in British mosques today," Adam Deen wrote just a few days before the latest terror attack in London. Adam Deen is a former member of the jihadi organization Al Muhajiroun and as Executive Director of the London based Quilliam Foundation is today involved in educational work on Salafism and jihadism. It is "no exaggeration" to say that the numerous British mosques financed by Saudi Arabia, "are little more than propaganda factories producing Wahhabi ideologues to populate the streets of Britain." "If we are serious about challenging extremism," Deen explains, then "we surely should start by stopping the mass export of Wahhabism's intolerance and hatred from Saudi Arabia to the UK."[8]

Put on Hold

This, however, would lead to a conflict with Riyadh's ruling clan, one of Great Britain's - and Germany's - closest allies in the Middle East. The consequences of this alliance with the Wahhabi power can be seen by the course of an investigation commissioned by the British ministry of the interior in early 2016. The investigation was supposed to disclose the funding of jihadi organizations in the United Kingdom. It was - and is - assumed that a considerable portion of their finances come from Saudi Arabia. On May 31, it became known that the ministry of the interior did not complete its investigation and presumably did not plan to publish the partial results, calling the contents "very sensitive."[9] Only three days later seven people fell victim in London to the most recent attack by British jihadis.

Close Allies

Despite Saudi support for jihadism, Germany has been cooperating with Saudi Arabia for decades. Under the SPD/Green coalition government, Germany has intensified its cooperation after Iraq's destruction in 2003,[10] and is continuing to expand it today. In late April, German companies, including Siemens and SAP, won major contracts during Chancellor Merkel's recent visit to Riyadh. Merkel has promised the Saudi government that German specialists would train Saudi border guards, railway policemen and aviation security experts. The Bundeswehr will also regularly train Saudi military personnel.[11] During the past decade, Riyadh was one of the German arms producers' most important customers. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[12]) Self serving declarations that the Saudi ruling clan has recently introduced "reforms," which would eliminate the basis for the export of Wahhabism and thereby deprive Jihadis their fertile soil around the world, is being labeled "PR" [13] or "unbelievable" [14] by experts.

Who is Footing the Bill

The populations in Western Europe's centers of prosperity, where jihadism has been strengthened, are now paying the bill for this reciprocal cooperation with Saudi Arabia. But not only there: The Saudi mission, which, in the past, has reinforced jihadism in numerous countries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, is now also penetrating other regions of the world - without Berlin's objections - favoring jihadi tendencies in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and the Philippines. (german-foreign-policy.com will report tomorrow).

[1] Guido Steinberg: Saudi-Arabien: Zwiespältiger Partner in der Terrorismusbekämpfung. www.swp-berlin.org 24.05.2017.
[2] Fareed Zakaria: How Saudi Arabia played Donald Trump. www.washingtonpost.com 25.05.2017.
[3] Guido Steinberg: Saudi-Arabien: Zwiespältiger Partner in der Terrorismusbekämpfung. www.swp-berlin.org 24.05.2017.
[4] Georg Mascolo: Saudis unterstützen deutsche Salafistenszene. www.sueddeutsche.de 12.12.2016.
[5] S. dazu Der Hauptsponsor des Jihadismus (II).
[6] Georg Mascolo: Saudis unterstützen deutsche Salafistenszene. www.sueddeutsche.de 12.12.2016.
[7] Denis MacEoin: Music, Chess and other Sins. Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society. London 2009.
[8] Adam Deen: Are Saudi-Funded Mosques Really A Problem In The UK? www.huffingtonpost.co.uk 28.05.2017.
[9] Jessica Elgot: 'Sensitive' UK terror funding inquiry may never be published. www.theguardian.com 31.05.2017.
[10] See Partners.
[11] Bundeswehr schult saudische Soldaten. www.tagesschau.de 30.04.2017.
[12] See Ein Spitzenkäufer deutschen Kriegsgeräts.
[13] Guido Steinberg: Saudi-Arabien: Zwiespältiger Partner in der Terrorismusbekämpfung. www.swp-berlin.org 24.05.2017.
[14] Fareed Zakaria: How Saudi Arabia played Donald Trump. www.washingtonpost.com 25.05.2017.