December 26, 2017 – Fort Russ News – Paul Antonopoulos – Translated from Descifrando la Guerra.
MADRID, Spain – Islam has become a daily discussion in Europe. Organizations of all colors have been striving to address the migration issue, the refugee crisis and the political, economic and military confrontations in the Middle East, and to extract political revenue from these issues by expanding simplistic views on religion or the way of life of the inhabitants of the Near East and Africa. More conservative or less, more liberal in the economic or more interventionist, politics forces to take position as quickly as possible, and satisfy the possible electorate with something simple and easy to swallow. Thus, the immigrant is a violent enemy because of his Islamic ideology, or a person who has suffered all his life and who is being discriminated against for xenophobia. Whatever the position taken, the objective is to play with the ignorance that is expected from the public, giving people empty messages that call for expulsion or an idyllic coexistence.
As the systems of ideas that are on the side of the Mediterranean cross this sea, it becomes more necessary to know them, because they participate more in our daily life. Although, as we will see, they did not start arriving in Europe with immigration, because ideas like Wahhabism have been struggling to expand in Europe for decades.
What is Wahabism?
Although we can all give a definition of ‘Islam’, fewer people can give a definition of Sunism or Shiism. Even less Wahabism, which although it is a movement that is about 250 years old and is a fundamental piece of contemporary Islam, is unknown to everyone except those whose interests directly go through the knowledge of Islam.
Wahabism is a branch of Islam, sometimes framed within Sunnism, sometimes parked as a separate current, which begins its existence from Al-Wahhab, an Arab clergyman who in the middle of the eighteenth century was associated with the royal house of Saudi Arabia, the Saud, in their conquest of Arabia. This association turned out to be very useful for the Saud, because it allowed them to launch themselves to the unification of the local tribes and emirates thanks to declaring their enemies ‘apostate’ or ‘false Muslims’. The descendants of Al-Wahhab and the House of Saud maintained their association, eventually achieving the pre-eminence in the region and eventually conquering all the territories of their current kingdom with the British approval. Only the British protectorates in the area (Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait after a war with Saudi Arabia) will survive the Saudi expansionism, with the exception of Yemen, which agreed after a war to recognize the conquests of Saudi Arabia in the zone.
What does Wahabism want?
This branch of Islam is based on a rigorist interpretation of the Islamic postulates, in search of a return to the ‘principles’ of Islam. For the Wahhabites, their ideas make Islam an original and pure Islam, seeing their current of this religion as a ‘Islam’ with a capital letter. Thus, they reject idolatry in any of its forms, accepting only the worship of God. Neither angels, nor evocations, nor objects, not even the Prophet, only God. That is why, from time to time, news about the destruction of historical heritage in Saudi Arabia or on the part of Wahhabis appear all over the globe: anything, even if they are tombs of important men in the history of Islam, must be destroyed if possible. distract the worship of God. That is why, in a city like Mecca, which receives a huge number of pilgrims year after year, the Wahabism justifies the destruction of more and more heritage, which is used to house hotels or restaurants.
Traditionally, the proclamation of God as the only one and Muhammad as his prophet, the so-called Profession of faith or Shahada, is enough to be Muslim, not being the pillars of Islam motive to be considered a Muslim evil or a sinner, but not an apostate or an idolater. But for Wahhabism, the explicit rejection of idolatry is necessary to be a true Muslim. For Al-Wahhab, this question is so important that it alone is a justification for war, an idea that was very useful for the Saud on their way to power: either one becomes a Wahhabian, or one can be attacked. In this sense, elements of other religions such as worship of images, tombs or saints, characteristic of the Christian religion, or the Shiite custom of placing mosques on tombs was for Al-Wahhab a reason to reject both confessions with harshness, even leading him to reject that Shiites or Sunnis who perform such acts are Muslims. It is possible to note that the founder of Wahhabism referred to an account of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, in which he declared that he did not fear the eventual conquest of Muslims by non-believers, but the return of idolatry and the appearance of false prophets among Muslims by wrong leaders. But he foresaw the maintenance of a group of believers faithful to true Islam. Al-Wahhab, without a doubt, identified with that group of true believers.
And we can not forget the rigid application of Islamic law or Sharia, fundamental for a movement like the Wahabita that is unfailingly radical. The vision of the Prophet, his sayings and deeds, and the call of the Koran to consider Muhammad as an example, led Saudi Arabia to create a moral police to watch that men and women dressed and acted according to sharia and morality imposed by the state, forcing not to smoke, men to wear beards and women to be covered. Both sexes must wear outfits that are demure, women can not drive and must always be accompanied by a relative.
How far has Wahhabism expanded?
Wahhabism expanded, originally, depending on the stability of the Saudi government in Arabia, which managed to form the state that governs most of the Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of the 20th century. Going through different stages, the descendants of Al-Wahhab remained as heads of the religious affairs of the Saud government while the government and politics took place. Wahabism is dominant in its cradle, the center of Saudi Arabia, in the area of the capital, while in the rest of the kingdom dominates, either Shiism, 25% of the population, or the Sunism of the Hanbali legal school, 52 % of the population, the rest being 23% of the Saudis, Wahabis. Therefore, in this country the third confession in terms of population is the official one and the one supported by the State, which tries to make its official acts appropriate to this branch of Islam.
Meanwhile, the other country whose official ideology is Wahhabi is Qatar, where 46% of its population identifies with this branch of Islam, receiving the Qatari state mosque named after Al-Wahhab in his honor.
What other ‘country’ has Wahhabism as its official ideology? The Daesh or Islamic State. To a certain extent, the Islamic State completely embraces Wahhabism, in the theological and in the practical, with a violent rejection of the rest of the confessions, which are false, as well as an unappealable application of Islamic Law or Sharia. But he divorced Saudi Arabia from the moment he recognizes himself as the true heart of Islam, rejecting the action and interpretation of Islam that arises from the house of Saud and his kingdom. Only the true caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, can lead the world Islam over the kingdom of the Saud, because these are only monarchs, Al-Baghdadi even claims to be able to trace his family tree to the Prophet, to justify himself as leader of believers.
Is Wahhabism the original and official ideology of Saudi Arabia?
It is not strange that there are Wahhabites who reject Saudi Arabia or the descendants of Al-Wahhab as a source of the valid interpretation of Islam. In the twentieth century emerged in Arabia as a radicalized element of this current the Ikhwan or ‘brotherhood’, a moralist militia that originally originated within the plans of the Saud, to expand their conquest based on military jihad by the Arabian Peninsula, but later, imbued with religious fanaticism, they applied themselves to applying the Wahhabi principles directly and establishing themselves as a pressure group on the State. Meanwhile, the king and his followers sought a more flexible and politically pragmatic application of Islam, creating tensions with their own products. Issues such as asking for emigration from the land of apostates and idolaters to the land of Islam to avoid their acceptance of the forms of non-believers, which we find today in ISIS, became issues of debate in the kingdom.
When the kingdom became an internationally recognized subject, the looting beyond its borders or the unlimited expansion in lands of infidels became problematic of international law, and therefore a problem for both the pragmatism of the Saud, which sought to rise as the head of Wahhabism to delimit it to their needs as for the fanatics who saw in the recognition of international borders (and in not being able to enrich themselves with looting) a problem. The religious debate served as cover for the diminution of the power of the members of the Ikhwan, that were separated as they were not necessary for the kingdom or even supposed a problem. The pressure of these groups led to the acceptance of a stricter regime over local and foreign Shiites, in addition to forcing them to attend classes led by Wahhabis, but it closed to the Ikhwan the possibility of declaring a jihad, something reserved only for the monarch. . The rejection of some of these groups to this issue led them to plunder in Kuwait and Iraq, necessary to avoid their emprobrecimiento by the lack of booty. After several discussions and pacts, the armed confrontation between the Ikhwan and the Saud began, which was solved through the lack of cohesion of the Ikhwan and the successful tribal pacts of the Saud, which led to the victory of the kingdom. The Ikhwan who did not rebel were included in the Saudi National Guard, finally accepting the loss of the Saud’s original fanaticism, allowing them to agree and converse with other States. The year after the royal victory, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formally established, and as an anecdote, the use of the wireless telegraph, formerly taboo for the fanatics, was incorporated, and even so, when it arrived in Riyadh, religious students were sent to the telegraph stations in search of signs of demons.
The export of Wahhabism
Saudi Arabia depended on a government apparatus based on the monarch, establishing councils and regional governments as needed, circumstantially, not appearing the modern Saudi state until it was discovered that the region was rich in oil. Until then, most of the income was obtained from taxes to pilgrims, which also served to keep the tribes happy in the fragile balance of a kingdom determined by tribal interests. In 1933, Saudi Arabia, in the midst of the Great Depression, agreed to the cession of deposits to the American company Standard Oil, giving firmness to the Saudi economy and bringing the country closer to US interests. Of course, this was a problem for the religious heads of the country, as it opened the ports and the Saudi Arabian deposits to foreigners. But the flow of money forced the opening to more and more American workers, who expanded their investment areas.
Saudi Arabia became a key player for the maintenance of the productive fabric of the United States, becoming its favorite supplier of oil, which in exchange received a strong modernizing impulse and a huge amount of income. On the occasion of its economic growth and in the context of the Cold War, Saudi Arabia and its fervently anti-communist ideas and, if necessary, against anyone who is not Wahhabist in the sense demanded by the Saud, became an important piece of the board international, which was quickly incorporated. Saudi Arabia became a safe place not only for the Wahhabists, but for all those reformist Muslims, revivalists or Islamists who sought to show opposition in their own countries against movements not already communist, but secularist or that could potentially modernize the country in a sense contrary to Saudi interests.
This is the case of organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which during the 50s and 60s found asylum and where to reinforce themselves to return enriched and trained to their countries of origin in Saudi Arabia. This organization was a force of opposition to the secularism of Nasser in Egypt and that of the Bashar in Syria, enemies of Saudi Arabia in the region. Today, Saudi Arabia is firmly opposed to its position of servitude towards the United States and its lukewarmness with American allies.
But today, and since last century, Saudi Arabia dedicates its money to finance the construction of mosques and madrasahs (Koranic schools, with their respective Saudi textbooks) throughout the world, expanding the Wahhabi message thanks to the role of patronage that plays Saudi Arabia by funding the coded formation of its own branch of Islam among the Islamic clergy that will later preach in prayer centers around the globe. A ‘cable’ of wikileaks referring to Pakistan reveals:
Government and non-government sources show that financial support estimated at $ 100 million per year was reaching out to Deobandi clerics and Alh-e-Hadith in the region from “missionary” and “Christian charity” organizations in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates Arab United States with the direct support of these governments.
The aforementioned movements are typical of the area, with Alh-e-Hadith an Islamist branch close to Wahhabism that directly rejects the Shiites, being the Deobandi branch organization best known internationally to the Afghan Taliban. The differences in terms of the branch of Islam do not seem to be a problem for the expansion of the Wahhabi hope of the worldwide taking of one more Islam, in the terms of this same branch, “pure”.
How are other branches of Islam going to compete with the massive funding offered by Saudi oil to charity, mosques, clergy and Islamic education all over the world? The same wikileaks cable confirmed that madrassas in Pakistan instructed children from infancy, barely the only training they can access, in the Wahhabi principles of frontal rejection of other confessions and unique loyalty to Islam. If a couple has many children and many economic problems, is opening the door to the rejection of a world that is not offering what they need to live. If such rejection is irrigated with an ideology centered on dogmatism and blind faith, is it possible that Pakistan, a place where Osama Bin Laden was captured near the capital not long ago and is constantly suffering terrorist attacks, be an example What can happen when the possible factors that give rise to the dreaded ‘radicalization’ come together?
Looking west, the funding in Europe of Islamic religious centers is real: in Spain it is no secret that the famous ‘Mosque of the M-30’ in Madrid was financed directly by the Saudi king with 2000 million pesetas, 12 million euros. euros, being inaugurated with the presence of King Emeritus of Spain, Juan Carlos I. It is also no secret that with the massive arrival of refugees in Germany in 2015, Saudi Arabia showed its charity by offering the construction of 200 mosques for these immigrants. For 2017 it is estimated that 110 mosques in the United Kingdom follow Wahhabism, not knowing with certainty how many are financed through screen organizations with money donated by rich individuals or by the Saudi State itself. Nor does it seem to be known how many of the 2,300 mosques in France get their clerics or directly their funding from Saudi Arabia, not keeping any data, or control, in this regard. Anyone who wants to find out, will discover that most of the funding and training is done through NGOs with Saudi origin and funding, by the kingdom and by Saudi, Qatari and Emirati individuals. Some of these NGOs are the Islamic World League, the International Islamic Relief Organization, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth … And it is not crazy that part of this money, in theory dedicated to charity, has ended up in the hands of armed terrorist groups.
Direct financing of armed groups by Saudi Arabia
A recurrent charge, beyond the export of Wahhabism in the form of ideology, is the direct financing by armed groups by Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region, such as Qatar or the United Arab Emirates. The aforementioned non-governmental organizations assisted the Afghan mujahideen, which eventually led to both the Taliban and the organization led by Saudi Osama Bin Laden: Al Qaeda. Pakistan was also part of this operation contextualized in the Cold War as a logistical base to launch attacks on the Soviets and the secularist government of Afghanistan. It is necessary to repeat the influence of education and charity networks launched from the Sunni Arab countries in the formation of an increasingly Islamist youth. But these funding from Afghanistan to Pakistan did not slow down with the end of the war against the USSR in Afghanistan, but they have continued or even deepened since 2005, according to another Wikileaks cable. A similar situation has been repeated in Indonesia and the Philippines, countries heavily plagued by Islamist insurgency whose organizations linked to Al-Qaeda, however, have the support of theoretically charitable organizations funded by wealthy Saudi businessmen, Kuwaitis, Qataris and Emiratis. These countries contributed a large amount of labor to these countries, whose workers returned influenced by Wahhabism to their homes, some of them participating in the Afghanistan War as mujahideen.
In Syria, openly Salafist organizations (that is, seeking also that purification against foreign influences, within Wahhabism or not, considering the term derogatory Wahhabism) integrated into the Free Syrian Army have also received direct assistance from the monarchies of the gulf. The radicalized militants found at the beginning of the war in Syria a source of both funding and a way to implement their holy war against the Syrian government, Shiites, Christians and other minorities, identifying this confrontation as inevitable and provoked by the infidels The interest in overthrowing the Syrian government, traditional enemy of these Islamist monarchies, has been mixed with the jihad demanded by some radical branches of Islam such as the aforementioned Wahhabism. The virtual moderate or secularist factions of the Syrian rebels were seen from the beginning of the war to the minimum expression thanks to the greater logistical, propaganda and military capacity of the openly Islamist units or even jihadists. In 2013 there was already fear among international analysts that massive funding would create a kind of uncontrolled jihad in the image of Al-Qaeda. This fear was fulfilled the following year with the appearance of the Islamic State, which became in its own right a source of political and theological action that openly defended the carrying out of attacks around the world to exalt the jihadist zeal and show its power.
In general throughout the Islamic world the same tone is maintained. The monarchies of the Persian Gulf, the State or enriched individuals have maintained a flow of money to organizations and groups as they have been more or less within the interests of these countries. But while countries like Morocco can present opposition from the State to the proliferation of a radicalized interpretation of Islam, those countries that have been shattered by war and instability such as Libya, Somalia or Palestine are unable to prevent arms and money from crossing its borders. Thus, a State that serves as a dam for the growth of paramilitary or terrorist groups has disappeared, they are at home, further damaging the national and regional stability.
Nor is it possible to forget that there are internal divisions within the radical Islamist organizations of the different countries, divided according to the interests of the different tribes or internal factions that vary both in their social origin (urban versus rural) and in their interpretation of Islam. And also in the very origins of financing. We can not forget that for months, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the main sources of financing for international terrorism and Wahhabism, are facing the Saudi self-designation as the beacon of Islam and, above all, of the region. This leads to problems when Qatar protects an Islamist organization internationally antagonized with Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood, or when it pacts friendly with Iran to calmly exploit the gas in the area. It is in those moments when some organizations are terrorists for some and not for others, and when jihadist idealism relaxes to maintain the status quo or even diminish the influence of the traditional enemy. In those moments, it does not matter so much if the neighbor is Shia and therefore an apostate as maintaining independence to enrich himself without problems.