Friday, October 13, 2006

The Saudi Money Trail – the tragedy continues!

The worldwide export of Wahhabi Islam

‘The worldwide export of Wahhabi Islam began in 1962, when Saudi Arabia's ruling Saud family founded the Muslim World League in Mecca to promote "Islamic solidarity." The Sauds were seeking to counter the fiery pan-Arab nationalism of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was calling for the Saudi monarchy to be overthrown. The family also saw the export of Islam, which they call "Dawah," as a sacred duty as their land was the birthplace of Islam. By 1982, the Saud family was feeling threatened by the Islamic revolution begun by Shiite Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and the extremism of some of its own citizens, who had temporarily seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979. Again, the family turned to Dawah. King Fahd issued a directive that "no limits be put on expenditures for the propagation of Islam," according to Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi oil and security analyst. Saudi Arabia now had the money: Its oil revenue had skyrocketed after the 1973 oil embargo. King Fahd used the cash to build mosques, Islamic centers and schools by the thousands around the world. Over the next two decades, the kingdom established 200 Islamic colleges, 210 Islamic centers, 1,500 mosques and 2,000 schools for Muslim children in non-Islamic countries, according to King Fahd's personal Web site. In 1984, the king built a $130 million printing plant in Medina devoted to producing Saudi-approved translations of the Koran. By 2000, the kingdom had distributed 138 million copies worldwide. Exactly how much has been spent to spread Wahhabism is unclear. David D. Aufhauser, a former Treasury Department general counsel, told a US Senate committee in June (2004) that estimates went "north of $75 billion."’ (Washington Post Thursday, August 19, 2004) (1)

‘Interference’ in Cambodia

‘In a police raid in May 2003 on Cambodian the al-Mukara Islamic School three foreign-born men affiliated with the school and the Saudi charity that ran the institution were arrested; a Cambodian teacher at another Islamic school was detained a few weeks later. All were charged with “international terrorism and with links to Jemaah Islamiyah.” At the time according to General Sok Phal, chief of Cambodia’s intelligence and security agencies, money sent from Saudi Arabia to sustain the school was being used to conduct Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda support activities. Apparently $10,000 wire transfers would appear in the school’s Cambodian bank account on a monthly basis, only to disappear shortly thereafter.’

‘There was at the time a significant flow of aid from the Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia to Cambodia’s Muslim population. The focus of the money in the predominantly Buddhist country is the Cham community which makes up about 6 percent of Cambodia’s population and which has its own language, culture and whose religion is Islam. Accompany some of the aid was radical Islamic proselytizing and recruiting drives that even led some Cambodians to training camps in Afghanistan. The money that flowed into Cham communities also sponsored pilgrimages to Mecca, build mosques and Islamic schools, and provided other religious and social services. A number of Saudi Arabia’s quasi-state-run charities also brought in clerics that preached Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s austere, fundamentalist form of Islam. Among the Saudi charities in Cambodia was the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which had allegedly laundered money to al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia and whose offices in at least 11 countries were designated by the U.S. Treasury (and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) as supporters of terrorism. The majority of Chams traditionally belong to the Shafi’iyah branch of Sunni Islam, however Wahhabi quickly became the second largest and most rapidly growing sect. Dakwah (the activity of propagating Islamic values), to some a fundamentalist Islamic movement, has also made significant inroads in Cambodia.’ (The American Prospect Online Edition January 1 2004) (2)

The Saudi Fifth Column On USA’s Campuses

‘The Saudis have steadily infiltrated American educational institutions with vast infusions of cash. At the same time they look to steer college curricula and public opinion – especially about the Middle East – toward their Wahhabist goals. Money the Saudis are pouring into our (US) universities in the form of gifts and endowments is alarming: King Fahd donated $20 million dollars to set up a Middle East Studies Center at the University of Arkansas; $5 million was donated to UC Berkeley’s Center For Middle East Studies from two Saudi sheiks linked to funding al-Qaeda; $2.5 million dollars to Harvard; $8.1 million dollars to Georgetown; $11 million dollars to Cornell; $1.5 million dollars to Texas A&M; $5 million dollars to MIT; $1 million dollars to Princeton. Rutgers received $5 million dollars to endow a chair. So did Columbia, which tried to obscure the money’s source. Other recipients of Saudi largesse include UC-Santa Barbara, Johns Hopkins, Rice University, American University, University of Chicago, Syracuse University, USC, UCLA, Duke University and Howard University, among many others.’ ( April 5, 2004) (3)

More than $27 million in "suspicious" transactions

‘A 2003/4 US federal investigation into the bank accounts of the Saudi Embassy in Washington identified more than $27 million in "suspicious" transactions, including hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Muslim charities and to clerics and Saudi students who were being scrutinized for possible links to terrorist activity, according to government documents obtained by NEWSWEEK at the time. The probe also uncovered large wire transfers overseas by the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The transactions eventually prompted the Saudi Embassy's long time bank, the Riggs Bank of Washington, D.C., to drop the Saudis as a client after embassy officials were "unable to provide an explanation that was satisfying," according to a source familiar with the discussions.’ (Newsweek April 12, 2004) (4)

Central mosque of Rome

‘The huge central mosque of Rome was built, almost entirely with Saudi money. To be more precise, I should say that the mosque of Rome was built with the money of the Saudi Royal Family. And to go even more in depth, I should add that there is a Crown Prince from the Saudi Royal Family who has taken charge of the whole operation. As far as my knowledge, the Rome central mosque is the largest in Europe. Speaking of Europe, the Saudis fund Islamic Centres from Britain to Switzerland. If we want to look at Eastern-Europe, Bosnian Muslims, the so-called "Bosniaks" have received huge amounts of money from Saudi charities and if we keep looking east, the same Saudi charities fund Kossovan’s and Chechens. Both Western Europe and Eastern Europe are full of Saudi-funded charities: the typical name would be "Islamic Relief".’ (Octavio Johanson, on Daniel Pipes Feb 1, 2005) (5)

Turkeys Justice and Reconciliation Party - political interference in a secular state

‘Turkeys Justice and Reconciliation Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, AKP) swept to victory in Turkey's parliamentary elections on November 3, 2002. Since being elected AKP leaders have blurred the distinction between business and politics. More troubling yet is the pattern of tying Turkish domestic and foreign policy to an influx of what is called Yesil Sermaye, "green money," from wealthy Islamist businessmen and Middle Eastern states. Where goes the AKP? Is leader Erdoğan's party a threat to Turkish secularism, or the product of it? Does the AKP represent an Islamist Trojan horse? Today, in private conversations and in the National Assembly, many Turkish officials discuss green money and AKP financial opacity as the new threat. Money buys the short-term popularity necessary to initiate long-term changes, be they in Turkey's foreign or domestic policy. Under apparent Saudi influence, such changes will likely further erode Turkish secularism. If the AKP is able to translate money into power and power into money, then the main loser will be Turkish secularism. As an executive with one of Istanbul's largest firms said, "The AKP is like a cancer. You feel fine, but then one day you start coughing blood. By the time you realize there's a problem, it's too far-gone."’ (Middle East Quarterly - Winter 2005) (6)

Gutless behaviour, or perhaps even worse, sinister deeds in the US Congress

Behaviour ‘The disgraceful scuttling of a new bill in the US House of Representatives must be a worry to many Americans. “H.R. bill 609” would have amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 and required America's colleges and universities to report any donations received from Saudi Arabia. The new bill, was put before one chamber of Congress by Congressman Dan Burton [R-IN], and would have required US colleges and universities to report such donations through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), a publicly available and searchable database. According to an aide to Congressman Burton, the amending bill made it past committee and when presented on the House floor was about to be put to a voice vote where a simple "yea" or "nay" vote would have led to its passage. George Miller [D-CA], as leader of the Democratic caucus stated his side had no objections to the bill just before a vote was held. But when the voice vote was requested, someone from the floor said "no," thus requiring a roll call vote where each representative would be recognized on how he voted on the matter. In what should have been a shoo-in, the amendment was voted down at the last minute on a roll call vote 306 to 120. Miller himself, who raised no objections to the amendment moments earlier, voted down the bill when his identity could be linked to its passage along with the rest of the House. This illustrates the sway of Saudi money – even in the US Congress, the "voice of the people."’ (American Thinker April 20, 2006 - On March 29th, 2006) (7)

US says funds flow in from Saudi Arabia to Somalia

‘Funds are flowing to support the Islamic Courts movement that seized the capital Mogadishu this month (June 06), said a senior U.S. official on Thursday (27th). The State Department's point person on Africa, Jendayi Frazer… "I don't want to say the Saudi government is supporting any particular (Islamic) court but I do know that there is money coming in from Saudi Arabia," Frazer told the House of Representatives International Relations Committee. "There is money coming in from Yemen and arms from Eritrea and other places", she said, adding that some of the funds came from Somali businessmen based in Saudi Arabia. Hard-line cleric Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is on a U.S. list of al Qaeda associates and was named head of the Council of the Islamic Courts last weekend, had showed "aggression" toward the United States, she said. Frazer defended U.S. policy and said the main goal was to ensure Somalia did not become a haven for terrorists, in addition to boosting the credibility of the [UN backed] transitional government, which is too weak to enter the capital.’ (Reuters - June 29, 2006) (8)

India finds Pakistani and Saudi money behind July 11 Mumbai serial train blasts

‘In the first indication that the blasts, which killed at least 163 people and injured 464, could be foreign funded, police today (July 31) claimed they had seized 37,000 riyals (approx USD10,000) sent from Saudi Arabia through “hawala” (a money transfer system) to Faizal Sheikh, a key Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative, arrested last week in the case. Though the money was sent by Faizal's brother, who lives in Saudi Arabia, anti-terrorist squad officials said that what was suspicious is that part of the money came a day before and remaining amount a day after the blasts. "Of the total money, 25,000 riyals were sent a day before the blasts, and 12,000 Riyals came a day after," ATS Chief K P Raghuvanshi told reporters here [India]’. (India Daily Jul. 31, 2006) (9)

Now something very worrying in Singapore!

Along with the warm political ties, the economic and trade relations between Singapore and Saudi Arabia have also been strengthened in the past year. Saudi Arabia is Singapore's largest trading partner in the Middle East with bilateral trade growing by over 50 percent to reach 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2005. It is also Singapore's largest foreign investor from the Middle East. (English People’s Daily – Xinhua April 14 2006) (10)

Saudi Education Ministry officials are intending to travel to Singapore to boost educational ties between the two countries, Arab News reported. Singapore's Minister of Education showed, during a seminar attended by students from Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, that they want to build a relationship at the school level with Saudi Arabia. Singapore authorities are eager to boost some of Middle Eastern students in Singapore's government-funded and privately run educational system. (MENA FN Aug 10 2006) (11)

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