By Dr Babu Suseelan
America'slong-time ally and the world'slargest oil producer had somehow become the epicentre of terrorist financing. This did not come entirely as a surprise to intelligence specialists. But until the attacks on September 11, 2001, US officials did nothing to confront the Saudis, not only on financing terror but also on backing fundamentalists and Jihadis overseas.
For the past 25 years, Saudi Arabia has been the single largest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism, as the huge, unregulated charities funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to Jihadi groups around the world.
Intelligence sources say: Starting in the late 1980s after the Iranian revolution and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Saudi Arabian charities became the primary source of funds for the fast-growing Jihad movement around the world. In some 20 countries, including India, the money was used to run Jihadi training camps and fundamentalist Islamic schools, to purchase weapons and to recruit Jihadis.
In many of the Jihadi terror, Washington was neutral, as in Kashmir, or even supportive, as in Chechnya. When Saudi money began financing Jihadis headed to Kashmir and Chechnya, Washington responded with ?a wink and nod?. There were other reasons too.
The charities were part of an extraordinary $70 billion Saudi campaign to spread fundamentalist Islamic ideology worldwide. The money supported hundreds of radical mosques, Islamic media centres that have acted as support network for the Jihad movements. The US, Britain, India and France knew about Saudi Arabia'srole in funding terrorism, yet, for years, they did nothing to stop it. These governments felt that foreign policy interests overweighed fighting terrorism.
Saudi largesse encouraged US officials to look the other way, intelligence agents say. Billions of dollars have gone to a wide range of former US officials, who had dealt with the Saudis. Washington'sunwillingness to confront the Saudis over terrorism was part of a broader strategic failure to sound alarm on the rise of the global Jihad movement.
From 1975 to last year, Saudi Arabia spent over $70 billion on overseas aid, according to a study by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think-tank. More than two-thirds of that amount went to Islamic activities?building mosques, Islamic schools, media centres, newspapers, and Islamic political centres?to promote Islamic interests. The Saudi funding programme is the largest worldwide Islamic propaganda campaign ever mounted.
The Saudi weekly Ainal-Yaqueen reported last year that Saudi Arabia supported some 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres, 202 colleges, and nearly 2,500 schools in India, Europe and the US. For several years the Saudi charities played a troubling role, which helped insurgents and Jihadis in Kashmir, Bosnia, Georgia, Indonesia, Philippines and Afghanistan
Over the past decade, according to a 2002 report to the United Security Council, Al Qaeda and other Jihadi groups collected between $600 million and $800 million?most of it came from the Saudi charities and private donations from Muslim businessmen.
The origins of Al Qaeda and several Jihadi terrorist organisations around the world are intimately bound up with the Saudi charities. These charities support Jihadis in hotspots around the globe, with virtually no controls. Despite the mounting evidence, the issue of Saudi complicity with terrorists was effectively swept under diplomatic rug. Counter-terrorism experts say that the US never felt Jihadi terrorism was a threat. Over a dozen of Americans are killed each year in terrorist attacks. Moreover, in many of the Jihadi terror, Washington was neutral, as in Kashmir, or even supportive, as in Chechnya. When Saudi money began financing Jihadis headed to Kashmir and Chechnya, Washington responded with ?a wink and nod?. There were other reasons: In much of official Washington, a growing movement of Jihadi terrorism was just not taken seriously. The fact that Jihad was based on Islam made it more difficult to discuss. There was a fear that it will antagonise the Muslim world. Moreover, the Saudis had spread money around Washington by the millions. Huge sums from Saudi contracts have bought friends and influence in Washington.
The Islamic world has always been a difficult target for American intelligence services. In Pakistan, where so much money poured in and Jihad had become an industry, bankrolled by the Saudis, Washington also supported Jihadis.
Supporting Jihad against non-believers is the topic of many Saudi programmes. Saudi TV refers Jews as ?the scum of earth?. Dr Yassim Al-Khatib, a professor of Islamic Law at Umal-Qura University, declared on the TV on May 5, 2003: ?It is the duty of every Muslim to go out against kafirs (non-believers). Jihad today has become an individual duty, which applies to each and every Muslim. It is forbidden for a person to remain silent.? Al Qahtani said, ?Allah said, ?Prepare against kafirs with all the force and horsemen that you can. What for? In order to strike fear into their hearts….? At the same time, we should establish strategies for the future, even if only for the short term and prepare…. so that one of these days, even 100, 200 or 400 years from now, we will become a force that will be feared by the infidel States.? Saudi TV often discusses the issue of India becoming a Muslim state in the future. Saudi Professor Nasser bin Sulimoan Al Omar, who runs an Islamic website, www.almoslim.net, says: ?India is collapsing from within… Islam is advancing to a steady plan, to the point that tens of thousands of Muslims have joined the Army, police and bureaucracy. And Islam is the second largest religion in India. Today, India is on its way to destruction. Just as it takes decades for nations to rise, it takes decades to collapse. India may not collapse overnight. It will be destroyed gradually. India will be destroyed.?
Experts on Jihadi terrorism say: Saudi Arabia has developed a plan for Islamic invasion of non-Islamic countries thus:
* Wage a war of words using secular leaders and other visible personalities to promote Islam
* Engage the public in dialogues, discussions, debates in colleges, universities, radio, TV on the views of Islam
* Nominate Muslim sympathisers to political office for favourable legislation to Islam and support potential sympathisers by voting them en bloc
* Take control of the film world, the Press, TV, radio
* Yell ?foul?, out-of-context, personal interpretation of the Quran, anytime Islam is criticised or the Quran is analysed in the public arena
* Encourage Muslims to penetrate the Army, police and government bureaucracy
* Accelerate the Islamic demographic growth
* Provide monetary assistance to journalists, secularists and writers
* Establish centres for Islamic studies with Muslim directors to promote Islam.
Saudi-financed Jihadi schools
Saudi Arabia financed madrasas around the world. Saudi-financed fundamentalist schools propel Muslim youths into committing Jihadi terrorism by criminal socialisation. Early brainwashing of children results in psychological incapacity to socialise with ?non-believers? (kafirs). They grow up in a social setting that lacks coherent and consistent pluralistic, secular social values. As a result, Jihadis commit terrorist crime as a divine duty. Children are simply not equipped emotionally or socially to accept tolerance, democracy and coexistence. The message of TV programmes in Islamic countries is that it is desirable to brutally maim, shoot, harass and kill non-believers. Conflicts with non-believers are to be resolved with Jihadi terrorism.
Saudi-financed Islamic centres in India and around the world pretend that Islam stands for universal brotherhood and peace. But in reality, Jihad and hostility towards non-believers have long been the central religious concepts in Islamic faith?well rooted in the Quran. Millions of people have perished, civilisations have vanished, temples were destroyed, and millions were forcefully converted to Islam since the inception of Islam as the sole religion in Saudi Arabia. Even today, in Islamic countries, non-believers are identified with oppression and depression. They challenge non-believers? sense of identity and uniqueness with brutality. Islam had never put forward this pretension before India'sIndependence. Islamic movement has been overwhelmingly the bloodiest in Indian history. It has been inspired, directed and managed by the fundamentalist Islam.
Combating Jihadi terrorism
Indian political leaders are callous in identifying Islamic threat posed by the Islamic fundamentalist movement funded by Saudi Arabia. Muslim fundamentalists in India, with Saudi money, create problems, which are potentially devastating to India for other reasons. Many politicians go through life without identifying the threat. Others have experienced acts of Jihadi terrorism and violence but are helpless. And to further confuse the majority, there is certainly no message of gravity depicted in the media of the current situation. India can'tignore the dangers of Saudi-financed Jihadi schools and mosques. Somehow, Indian secularists have lost their sense of social and national responsibility. If India wants to be safe from Jihadi terrorism, it must proceed to stop the free flow of Saudi money into India. If it remains unconscious of the dangers and refuses to act, it will be exposed to increased vulnerability.
Secularism requires confrontation and acknowledgement of death, damage and destruction caused by Jihadis and a conscious effort to respond to Jihadi'shatred and enmity. If not checked, Saudi financing of Jihadi schools, Islamic fundamentalism and Jihadi terrorism will become a time bomb ready to explode. There may be a need to redefine India'straditional concepts of secularism and Islamic mindsets. To be effective in deterring Jihadi terrorism, India needs to do more to understand their goals, motives, perspectives, and mindsets. The war of terror and the campaign against terror are as much political as they are military. India must do something to stop the free flow of Saudi money and the harm it may inflict on us. A major ?something? is to enact law to stop the free flow of foreign funds. Absent judicial-legislative-social-media activism is only to entertain the idea of supporting Jihadi terrorism.