by Editorial Board
A debate is reportedly being conducted in the White House as to the next round in the war on terror. Some contend that Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein should be the next target. It would be less difficult than confronting Saudi Arabia's monarchy, which provides the United States with about 18 percent of its petroleum. But some observers argue that the root of the Sept. 11 evil lies with the Saudi monarchy. The case is persuasive, and it explains some of the mystery surrounding Osama bin Laden.
Journalist Stephen Schwartz argues that Wahhabism, not bin Laden, is the enemy in the war on terrorism. Wahhabism is a fundamentalist Islamic sect founded in the 18th Century by Ibn Abdul Wahhab, whose theology was developed to challenge the Ottoman rulers. Wahhab sought an Islamic purity. This cult, says Schwartz, represents an Islamofascist ideology.
"If the world is to be made safe from terrorism," wrote Schwartz recently in the National Review, "Wahhabism must suffer a definitive, irreversible historic defeat. Liberation, not containment: Only in a world where Wahhabism has been crushed can we hope for the survival of world peace, and of a legitimate, peaceful Islam."
Schwartz's premise contradicts President Bush's statement that the United States would wage war against terror, not Islam. Wahhabism is the ideological foundation for the jihad against the United States and Israel. It is also fiercely opposed to the rest of Islam. The United States is waging war against an Islamic sect that will not disappear if bin Laden dies or al-Qaida is crushed.
Bin Laden is a Wahhabi follower. The 20 Sept. 11 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis, were Wahhabis. The suicide bombers in Palestine were and will be Wahhabis. The Taliban practiced a form of Wahhabism.
Wahhabism is sponsored, ideologically, politically and financially by the Saudi government. Most of Pakistan's madrasas - religious schools that preach hate against the West - are financed with Saudi money. It is more than likely that the American Taliban fighter John Walker was educated at a Pakistan madrasa with Saudi money.
The New York Times reported Thursday that thousands of Saudi youths have left their country to wage a Wahhabi holy war.
Four times in the last six years, reports the Times, Saudis have been among those who bombed American targets in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen.
It was not until last October, however, that the Saudi government began to detain its subjects who sought to join the fight against the United States in Afghanistan. It was not until after the Sept. 11 attacks that the Saudi government severed its ties to the Taliban. It was one of but three nations that had recognized that murderous regime.
Observers note that the Saudis were content to export their Wahhabi problems. Any clampdown on Wahhabis could have provoked the Saudi religious fundamentalists. This is a long-standing theme in Islamic states, where extremists are held at bay by repressive means.
The Saudi Wahhabi connection is clear and presents a dilemma for the Bush administration. But it must pressure the Saudis to halt its sponsorship of Wahhabi terror.
Related Topics: Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free center for islamic pluralism mailing list
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