After following in the wake of Washington’s policies both silently and obediently for decades, it would seem that the EU decided to man up and make a couple of steps of its own, even if just for a change. However, one would be rather surprised to know that among these steps was the decision to add Saudi Arabia to the list of countries considered by the EU a threat due to terror financing. While Washington wouldn’t normally consider criticizing Riyadh for any of its numerous sins, mainly due to the generous gifts Saudi princes are known of making to high-profile American politicians, Brussels decided to slap it on the wrist for numerous instances of sponsoring radical militants all across the globe. The revised list will need to be backed by 28 EU states to be formally adopted.
As it’s been pointed out, the move comes amid heightened international pressure on Saudi Arabia after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
However, upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that just like before, the EU wouldn’t dare to make its own major geopolitical steps without obtaining approval from Washington. In a world where the US ranks first in the list of oil producing states, the Wahhabi kingdom is no longer a viable asset, as it’s a more of a liability now with its track record of human rights abuses and terrorism sponsoring. It’s curious that once the US Senate adopted a paper condemning Riyadh last December, Saudi foreign ministry released its own statement announcing that Washington was about to let its hounds loose.
And the hounds wouldn’t keep us waiting, as the Business Insider would announce that Saudi Arabia is the most prominent provider of funding for terrorism in Britain, according to a report by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think tank. This publication revealed that HJS released a report outlining methods the kingdom would use to advance a “hardline” interpretation of Wahhabi Islam in the UK.
The spread of ideology, which publicists describe as Wahhabism, Salafism or “proper Muslims” is the main occupation of the Muslim Brotherhood. The notion of proper Muslims would be put forward by the first Saudi army known as Ikhwan, which ensured a gradual increase of radicalism across the Middle East. However, one shouldn’t be thinking that the Muslim Brotherhood is operating in a straightforward fashion as they are well-versed in all sorts of conspiracies. You will never meet an agent of Salafism that will immediately tell that he is a member of a terrorist organization that is being hunted all across the civilized world. In fact, he will do just the opposite. The Muslim Brotherhood is just the front company, which hides a myriad of formally independent entities that cannot be legally linked to the “proper Muslims.” Formally, the agents of the Muslim Brotherhood are engaged in cultural, educational and social work, and are usually engaged in all sorts of charitable projects. Yet, intelligence agencies and international analysts are well aware of the fact that the extensive propaganda of terrorism is what they are after all along.
However, in a civilized world such notions are to be proven in court, with each individual case having the potential of being dragged for years, as Salafists would typically field an army of lawyers hired by all sorts of media outlets. Should a high-profile member of the Muslim Brotherhood get detained somewhere a handful of sites that describe themselves as human rights advocates would start shouting that a faithful Muslim preacher is being persecuted for his believes in the West. This will be enough for some poor brainwashed soul to try to join ISIS or even go stab some people in the streets of the city he lives in. And we’ve seen it across numerous terrorist attacks in the West that they would be committed by formally law-abiding citizens who managed to escape the attention of various law enforcement agencies.
It’s the nature of Wahhabi ideology that makes such individuals particularly dangerous as they will operate on their own and look absolutely normal to other people. The Muslim Brotherhood adopted the Shia practice of Taqiya – dissimulation or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution. This means that nothing prevents ardent Wahhabi believers from leading a normal life in the West. They would pray in moderate mosques or wouldn’t go to one at all. In fact, Wahhabi masterminds are nothing like Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In fact, they are said to be perfectly civil in their communications with strangers and would typically resemble university teachers. To make the matters worse, the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadi organizations would possess all the traits of a regular intelligence agency as they implant their agents in traditional Muslim organizations, scientific institutions and government bodies with ease. While dealing with strangers “proper Muslims” would never confess to their radical believes, as they would pretend to think like any other faithful Muslim would. Just like a regular member of Hizb ut-Tahrir they will renounce their organization publicly, even if you are going to catch them transporting radical banners in the trunk of their car.
Numerous attempts to ban Wahhabism in different countries have ripped modest result so far. For sure, you can ban a brand, but you cannot prevent it from spreading its ideology in utmost secrecy. If a Wahhabi group on a social network is blocked by a court, the people behind it can still use their promo materials in other groups, like the ones created to assist people to learn Arabic. They are also known for organizing private meetings with those who showed interest in their ideology online.
Wahhabism and Nazism have a lot in common. The ideologists of Wahhabism from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood founding fathers supported Hitler in his opposition to the UK in the Middle East. An SS scientist of the Mauthausen concentration camp, Aribert Haim ended his days as a Wahhabi adept of the Muslim Brotherhood, a regular at of one of the mosques in Cairo. The above mentioned ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi began his terrorist journey as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Saudi Arabia spent tens of billions of dollars on the bloody conflicts in Yemen and Syria, but it has spent even more to promote Wahhabism throughout the Muslim world. And even though the successful opposition mounted by the Syrian people to radical Wahhabi detachments, with the support of Iran and the Russian air corp, did inflict a severe blow to the reputation of Saudi Arabia in the Arab world, Wahhabism didn’t go anywhere.
Given that terrorism has its roots in the ideology of Wahhabism, propagated and sponsored by the Saudi regime an that wouldn’t be possible without the tacit support of Washington, it’s only logical that the silent consent that the US gave to the European Commission to recognize Riaydh as a terrorism sponsor state will lead to the public discussion of the role that Wahhabism plays in the radicalization of the Middle East.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”