11:44 - May 30, 2016
News ID: 3459958
TEHRAN (IQNA) – Saudi Arabia has frustrated American policy makers for years. Ostensibly a critical ally, sheltered from its enemies by American arms and aid, the kingdom has spent untold millions promoting Wahhabism, the radical ideology that inspired the 9/11 hijackers and that now inflames the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.


The latest chapter in this long, sorrowful history involves tiny Kosovo. With a population of only 1.8 million people, Kosovo has sent more of its young people per capita than any other country to fight and die in Iraq and Syria. Since 2012, some 314 Kosovars have joined Daesh, including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children. Even Belgium, widely seen as a hotbed of extremism after the attacks on Paris and Brussels, lags behind it in the recruitment rankings.

As detailed by Carlotta Gall in a recent article in The New York Times, Kosovo is in this position largely because Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states have spent years developing and funding a network of preachers, mosques and secretive associations there. And while there is no evidence that any group gave money directly and explicitly to persuade Kosovars to go to Syria, senior officials in Kosovo told Ms. Gall that extremist clerics and groups have spent heavily to promote radical thinking among young and vulnerable people. "The issue is they supported thinkers who promote violence in the name of protecting Islam,” Fatos Makolli, head of Kosovo’s counterterrorism police, told her.

Kosovo, rescued from Serbian oppression after months of NATO bombing in 1999, has been known as a tolerant society. For centuries, the Muslim majority has followed the liberal Hanafi version of Islam, which is accepting of others. Since the war, that tradition has been threatened by Saudi-trained preachers, their costs paid by Saudi-sponsored charities that foster takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims viewed as heretics.

The 9/11 attacks quickly clarified the dangers. Several Saudi organizations in Kosovo were closed, and the Saudi government, which appears to have reduced its aid to Kosovo, now insists that it has imposed strict controls on charities, mosques and clerical teachings. Even so, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have increased funding for hard-liners in Kosovo.

The Sunni Arab states still do not seem to understand the extent to which extremism imperils them as well. Although the Saudi royal family relies on the Wahhabi clerics for their political legitimacy, the Daesh group accuses the monarchy of corrupting the faith to preserve its power. Since 2014, there have been 20 terrorist attacks in the kingdom, many staged by Daesh. 

Source: The New York Times 

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