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Wahhabism, 9/11, and Other Dangers

That the founder and leader of Al-Qaeda is a Saudi and fifteen of the nineteen terrorists on 9/11 were Saudis suggests a causal relationship between the Wahhabi way of life and terrorism.
Human behavior is a product of past experiences, beliefs, and values and these cannot be compartmentalized in isolated chambers in the human mind so that the religious chamber can be sanitized. Admittedly, neither religion nor politics alone causes terrorism. Rather, it is the combination of extreme Wahhabi indoctrination in the belief in predestination, glorification of jihad, and God’s promise of houris’ delights in Paradise that turn political frustrations at home and from abroad into walking bombs.  


The combination of extreme Wahhabi indoctrination in Saudi Arabia and political frustrations are like fuel and fire. The fuel is the mindset of self-annihilation created by ulama's preaching and teaching. The fire is the frustration generated by autocratic rule and injustice at home plus humiliation from abroad, like the Arab/ Istraeli conflict and US politics in the Middle East. This is not to imply, however, that 9/11 was a state-sponsored crime. Rather, the crime was the work of individual jihadists produced as a by-product of the Wahhabi way life.
Wahhabism is as responsible for 9/11 as politics. Without a shred of convincing explanation Saudi propagandists in the East and the West managed to deflect the world’s attention from Wahhabi culpability. They managed to brush aside any connection between the Wahhabi way of life and 9/11, claiming instead that politics (without specifics), not Wahhabism, was behind the atrocity. Absurd fantasies circulating in some Arab societies blame 9/11 on Israel’s Mossad, or the American extreme right.  Western apologists, many of whom are former Washington officials, who act for the al-Saud princes, Saudi government, and private sector businessmen as advisers, business partners, lawyers, public relations consultants, etc... have aided in this outcome. 
Saudi Islam: A Wahhabi Cult
Wahhabism is greatly influenced by the most orthodox among the four surviving Sunni schools of jurisprudence, the Hanbalite School. Because of its extremism, Hanbalism has had over the centuries a tiny following. Even today, and despite Saudi Arabia's strenuous proselytizing efforts and vast financial resources since the quadrupling of oil prices in 1973, the Saudi brand of Islam is followed mainly by Saudi Arabia's less than 20 million indigenous people, or around 2% of the world’s more than one billion Sunnis, plus an indeterminate number of followers among the millions of Muslim expatriate workers who had worked and continue to work in Saudi Arabia and who became indoctrinated in the Wahhabi way of life. 

Partnering with Wahhabi clerics and accusing the Ottoman Sultans of being bad Muslims, Abdulaziz Al-Saud (?1876-1953) used Wahhabism as a justification for his rebellion against Istanbul at the turn of the twentieth century. He made Wahhabism the legitimating ideology of his newly established kingdom in 1932 and named it after his family. His six successor sons followed their father’s footsteps, cementing Wahhabism as Saudi Islam. 

Exporting Wahhabism
In foreign lands, Saudi funded mosques, preachers, schools, teachers, students, charities, etc... propagate the Wahhabi message. The expansion of Wahhabism in Arab countries and the resurgence of the Talibans in Afghanistan, who are Wahhabis, as well as the growth of Islamism in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia have created a menacing arch of extremism under Saudi stewardship.

Autocratic Saudi Governance: A Jihadist Factory
Saudi governance is non-participatory and non-representative. Free press does not exist. Political parties, labor union, and societal organization are banned. Dissent is dealt with cruelly. The monarch is an absolute ruler. The national budget is allocated at his sole discretion.  Saudi governance is mired in tribalism, cronyism, nepotism, and favoritism. The ruling group violates the law with impunity. Corruption, a natural consequence of such systems, is the glue that keeps the ruling grouptogether. 
The al-Saud family is possibly the world’s largest ruling family ever. It is estimated that Abdulaziz Al-Saud’s direct descendants could number over 11,000, or more (2018 estimate). When his brother and half brothers, cousins, and other relatives are added, the number becomes much larger. The annual burden of the royals on the Saudi treasury could be estimated well beyond US$11 billion.

The Wahhabi ulama, with support from the Saudi government, brainwash the populace into believing that submission to Islamic authority is at the core of the Islamic Creed and that blind obedience to the al-Saud rule is a form of piety. Wahhabism legitimized the absolute rule and the excesses of the Saudi regime. The combination of Wahhabism and the al-Sauds’ excesses have turned Wahhabi society into a Jihadist factory. A genie was born, and the genie got out of the bottle. No one today seems able to get the genie back into the bottle. 

That 15 of the 19 killers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia is an indictment of the entire Wahhabi way of life—its legitimating ideology, system of governance, educational system, indoctrination practices, as well as its collective political, religious, military, judicial, civic, intellectual, tribal, and business leaderships. 
Eight years after 9/11, however, Saudis were still funding terror groups. A cable dated December 30, 2009, released by Wikileaks, quotes former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”[1] Another Wikileaks file showed a private speech that Hillary Clinton made in 2013 saying: “The Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons – and pretty indiscriminately – not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.”[2] Eighteen years after 9/11, on February 13, 2019, the European Commission added Saudi Arabia to a blacklist of countries that threaten the EU due to lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering.[3]

Saudi Arabia must take responsibility for blackening the name of Islam. Saudi Arabia must take responsibility for the worldwide anger and mistrust generated following 9/11 toward the 450 million Arabs who are innocent of Wahhabi extremism and who have always looked with disdain on Wahhabism, its extremism, and primitive way of life.

To eliminate a terrorist cell or two or a hundred or a thousand cells will fail to root out terrorism. To fight terrorism, not only must the material and the financial infrastructure of jihadism be destroyed, but also the religious foundation upon which jihadism rests, starting with Wahhabism.
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[1]US embassy cables: Hillary Clinton says Saudi Arabia 'a critical source of terrorist funding',” The Guardian, (December 5, 2010).


[2] Martin Williams, “FactCheck Q&A: Is Saudi Arabia funding ISIS?,” Channel 4 News, “June 7, 2017).


[3] EU adds Saudi Arabia, Panama, Nigeria to dirty-money blacklist,” CNBC, (February 13, 2019).