Wahhabism in the West
Wahhabi proselytising is not limited to the Islamic world. The Saudis have financed the growth of thousands of Wahhabi mosques, madrassas, and other religious institutions in Western countries that have fast-growing Muslim minorities during the past three decades. In March 2002, the official Saudi magazine Ain al-Yaqeen estimated that the Saudi royal family, in countries where Muslims were a minority, has funded 210 Islamic centres, 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges, and 2,000 madrassas. The number of all Saudi Government and charitably funded institutions beyond Saudi Arabia is much higher (cited in "Inside the Kingdom," Time, September 7, 2003).
Wahhabi penetration is deepest in the social welfare states of Western Europe, where chronically high unemployment has created large pools of able-bodied young Muslim men who have "become permanent wards of the state at the cost of their basic human dignity". This is a perfect storm of alienation and idleness, ripe for terrorist recruitment.
The perpetrators of the 2005 London subway attacks were native-born Britons of Pakistani descent, recruited locally and trained in the use of explosives during visits to Pakistan. The Dutch Moroccan who murdered Dutch filmmaker Theodor Van Gogh in 2004 (for producing a film critical of Islam) was also a product of Wahhabi indoctrination.
The Wahhabis have had less traction in the United States, which lacks the masses of unassimilated young people that exist in Europe. US welfare laws no longer allow able-bodied young men to have indefinite periods of government subsidised unemployment and immigrants (both Muslim and non-Muslim) tend to find a more stable niche in American society.
Nevertheless, Wahhabi penetration of US mainstream Islamic institutions is substantial. A 2005 Freedom House Report examined over 200 books and other publications distributed in 15 prominent Saudi-funded American mosques. One such publication, bearing the imprint of the Saudi embassy and distributed by the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles, contained the following injunctions for Muslims living in America:
Be dissociated from the infidels, hate them for their religion, leave them, never rely on them for support, do not admire them, and always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law.
[W]hoever helps unbelievers against Muslims, regardless of what type of support he lends to them, he is an unbeliever himself.
Never greet the Christian or Jew first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never befriend an infidel unless it is to convert him. Never imitate the infidel. Never work for an infidel. Do not wear a graduation gown because this imitates the infidel.
Although Saudi-funded religious institutions have been careful not to incite or explicitly endorse violence since 9-11, they unapologetically promote distrust toward non-Muslims and self-segregation. In effect, they are trying to reproduce in America the kind of social conditions that have fuelled radicalisation and terrorist recruitment in Europe.
Saudi-funded religious institutions, such as the American Muslim Council (AMC), have long been treated as representatives of the American Muslim community by the US Government. Abdurahman Almoudi, the founder of the AMC, was a frequent visitor to White House under the Clinton and Bush Administrations despite having publicly proclaimed support for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas (he is now in jail for having illegally accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Libyan Government).
High level political access has enabled such groups to penetrate the American prison system. The US Bureau of Prisons has relied on chaplain endorsements from the so-called Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS), a Saudi-funded organisation.
The most egregious example of this penetration is the case of Imam Deen Umar, the Administrative Chaplain for the State of New York Department of Corrections. Umar, an American convert who made two visits to Saudi Arabia and studied at the GSISS, and the men he hired as chaplains, had exclusive access to the 13,000 Muslims in the New York prison system. According to then FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism John S. Pistole, Umar was found to have "denied prisoners access to mainstream imams and materials" and "sought to incite prisoners against America, preaching that the 9-11 hijackers should be remembered as martyrs and heroes".
While there is little evidence that al-Qaida has recruited inside the American prison system, it is noteworthy that José Padilla (arrested in 2002 in connection with an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States) first embraced radical Islam while in prison, as did Richard Reid (the so-called "shoe bomber" arrested in 2001) in the UK and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Jordan.
The American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council (a branch of the AMC), along with the Saudi-funded Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), secured the right to select, train and certify all Muslim chaplains for the US Armed Forces. It has been reported that Saudi Arabia provided more than 100 US Armed Forces personnel with free trips to Mecca as an opportunity to make their hajj. Almoudi arranged for the Saudi-controlled Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences (IIAS) to train "American soldiers and civilians to provide spiritual guidance when paid Muslim chaplains aren't available". The Wall Street Journal also reported that there were signs that: "the school disseminates the intolerant and anti-Western strain of Islam espoused by the [Saudi] Kingdom's religious establishment."