Propagating ISIL Through Wahhabism or Salafism

Submitted by Charles Knighton

Wahhabism1We continue to hear from those who should know better that the destruction of Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS by military force would put an end to the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.


WRONG! Such groups are merely the symptom of a  malevolent form of Islam long championed by the Saudis, who have spent billions to combat the spread of Shiite Islam in an effort to ensure that the Islamic world is primarily Sunni. In recent years, the ancient Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq, Yemen and throughout the Middle East has grown more overt, bitter and violent. Now that Iran has agreed to rein in its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions, the Saudis fear a newly enriched Iran will be more aggressive in spreading its Shiite doctrine and promoting Shiite-led revolutions.

The Saudis have promoted their religious views by investing heavily in building mosques, madrasas, schools and Sunni cultural centers across the Muslim world. During the decade-long Afghan struggle against the Soviets, Saudi princes funded the explosive growth of madrasas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The schools, located in rural communities where there was no other source of education, taught a militant form of Islam, telling students they had a sacred duty to fight infidels. Out of these schools came the radical students who eventually formed the Taliban, as well as many al Qaida recruits. Today, many of these Pakistani schools draw students from Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere, and they return home radicalized. These schools and the teaching clerics preach the specifically Saudi version of Sunni Islam, the extreme fundamentalist strain known as Wahhabism or Salafism. One cannot overestimate the importance of the ideology that’s propagated by these schools in shaping minds in the Muslim world.

Wahhabism was founded in the 18th century by Muslims seeking a return to Koranic literalism, and is one of the strictest sects of Islam. The founder, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, sought the protection of an emir, Muhammad ibn Saud, and the two joined forces to spread the doctrine throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The cleric’s daughter married the emir’s son, which means the entire House of Saud is directly descended from Wahhab. The purest sect requires adherents to abstain from alcohol and drugs. The sexes are segregated, with women fully covered in public. Even other Muslims who stray from these medieval practices—such as Shiites and moderate Sunni sects—are considered infidels. Prescribed punishments for crimes—among them apostasy and blasphemy—include flogging, stoning and beheading.

Wahhabism gained enormous influence in 1979, when radical clerics who believed the House of Saud had been contaminated with Western decadence led hundreds of armed militants to occupy the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Deeply alarmed, the royal family sought to appease the militants by reversing the steps toward modernity the country had taken. Movie theaters and record stores were shut down, and more power was given to the religious police to seek out and punish offenses. In effect, the seizure of the Grand Mosque sent Saudi Arabia into a 30-year time warp that cut it off from the social-development trajectory it had been on. The royal family made a grand bargain with the clerics: Riyadh would fund the spread of Wahhabism abroad as long as the extremists kept any militant activities off Saudi soil. That deal ensured that radical Islam would overwhelm moderate versions in many countries, and planted the seeds of many terrorist groups.

Wahhabism has now reached nearly everywhere in the Muslim world except where Iran holds sway. In the 1980s, Saudi money poured into Afghanistan to help the mujahedeen fight the Soviets, an effort that gave rise to the Taliban and eventually to al Qaida. In the 1990s, Saudi aid to the Bosnian Muslims struggling in the wars that broke up Yugoslavia brought the Wahhabi strain of Islam to Europe. That same decade, Saudi money helped to further radicalize Chechnya’s Muslims. One of the cables released by WikiLeaks quotes then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Most members of al Qaida were Saudi, including Osama bin Laden, and 15 of the 19  hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sees itself as purer than the Saudi regime, but its fundamentalist Sunni doctrine has its roots in Wahhabism. A former member of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, Bob Graham, says ISIS “is a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money and Saudi organizational support”. In effect, Graham says, ISIS represents a form of Wahhabi ideology that the Saudis can’t control—a cancer that now threatens the kingdom itself. In order to stop ISIS and similar terrorist organizations, it is necessary to first dry up this ideology at the source. Unfortunately, this can only be accomplished by Muslims themselves, a task they seem either unwilling or unable to undertake.


  • Interesting.


  • Steupsss
    You find that “interesting” Vincent…. ?

    Wuh all the man said was that ISIL is the result of global brass bowlery…



  • If we accept Charle’s posit, the idea of bombing ‘ISIL’ which is really a movement is a nonsense.


  • Well Well & Consequences

    Bombing sells bombs, guns, bullets and nuclear armaments, it’s a business, the people who have shares in these factories etc, I leave you to guess who they are, the first 2 will not count, are only there to make quadrillion dollar profits, that is why they are called interest groups. Not them same interesting that Vincie is mumbling

    If you have decades of experience in creating wars, strife, disturbances, you know how to make money. Just listen to Hilary Clinton’s plan for ISIS, why do you think people who know do jot want her anywhere near the white house.


  • Of course Saudi Wahabism is responsible for most of what ails Islam these days.

    But nobody wants to say “boo” to the Saudis because the Saudis have oil. And oil is the lifeblood of al modern societies. So even while the Saudis are wrong WE ALL suck up to them.

    Even while it is is impossible to bomb an idea out of existence…sometimes violence is the only language that some people understand and violencecan get people to show up at t he conference table.


  • ISIS/ISIL ,another proxy brought to you by MI6, CIA and the Mossad.


  • ” What is Wahhabism?


    Since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC, the ultra-conservative Wahhabi branch of Islam has often been cited by critics and commentators as the ideology of Islamic extremists around the world today. But can 21st Century terrorism really be blamed on the teachings of this 18th Century sect?

    In this edition of Analysis, Edward Stourton asks what is – and what isn’t – Wahhabism? He explores the foundation of this fundamentalist form of Islam, the evolution of its interpretation in Saudi Arabia, and asks what power and influence it has across the globe.”


  • @David at December 16, 8:19 “If we accept Charle’s posit … is a nonsense.” There is nothing not to accept re the author’s comments as he has provided an analysis of what is writ large on history’s pages. And thus you are quite correct that its utter nonsense to propagate the concept that one can win this war with bombs and bullets.

    Some months back Pres Obama had the temerity -so his critics suggested – to evoke the Christian crusades in an attempt to locate this current Muslim terror surge in a proper context. He was shouted down and considered all sorts of wimp and apologists. Christians were aghast: how dear he speak of spreading the word of God in the breath of this terror!

    But as the author notes above, this is all about a crusade of conversion…a movement. It has always been that and the powers know that, although average citizens seem not willing to accept.

    We should be aghast that we still don’t understand the depravity of religious fanatics.

    Frankly, Trump echoes that movement awareness in his virulent remarks like stop all Muslim migration, set up databases on all Muslims, scrutinize all US Muslim mosques etc. But that is somewhat illegal in a modern society and even a totalitarian restriction cannot eradicate a ‘religious movement’.

    From the crusades it took many generations of continued struggle to reach some point of equanimity after the bodies were removed from battlefields. Thus a complete devastation of Raqqa, ISIS capital, will not stop this terror crusade…even if it was possible to actually nuke the place as a Trump spokes-lady was opining recently.

    We have to come to grips with current facts of life and the ongoing terror of this Islamic hydra movement…not directly comparative of course, but I suspect the infidels of an earlier era found Christian crusaders similarly threatening to their way of life.

    (That is not a cue for a Zoe exposé on the righteous Crusades, please.)


  • @Dee Word

    Well stated!


  • @de Ingrunt Word December 20, 2015 at 10:32 AM #

    (That is not a cue for a Zoe exposé on the righteous Crusades, please.)

    Chuckle……Religion,sects,cults,orders,etc,etc are used by one and all to commit atrocities and it all stems from humanoids desire to know the un-knowable…….where did we come from and what is our purpose in our brief life on earth……..


  • If there is ever a significant global (or more critically US) reduction in demand for Saudi and Middle Eastern oil then I believe that there will be corresponding decrease in Jihadist activity.


  • @Ping Pong at 11:24 AM …really, how so? You are aware that currently the oil companies in the US are pushing hard to be allowed to ‘EXPORT’ oil, right. The US President just closed off expansion plans to pump more oil from Canada through his country.

    So mid-east oil is important but the US could survive for quite a while without it.

    You are suggesting that the Saudi leaders will curb these fanatical groups who want to ensure praise to their deity and enforce firm dictates of Sharia law due to the affects of falling oil revenues.

    Money fuels the terror war surely but just as surely the movement of these Muslims cannot be eliminated based on Geo-political fossil fuels revenues. Seems quite impossible to me.

    Interesting perspective you have.


  • @ Word

    I am aware that the US has been weaning itself off mid east oil. As Napoleon (I think) is reported to have said “An army marches on its stomach.” So it takes more than ideals and beliefs to wage war successfully. I believe (note I do NOT know) that most of the financial resources of these Jihadist groups come from Saudi Arabia or Saudi based sources. With the fall in oil prices there may be ironically an intensification of Jihadist activity to capture as much ground before the “till” is empty. If the financial situation in Saudi Arabia becomes tight Saudi Arabia itself may become destabilized by the devils of its own creation. I believe also the lifting of sanctions on Iran will also play a part. As Iran gets more money, it is more able to counter the Jihadists (who seem to be mainly Sunni) in support of the Shia (who are often the target of the Jihadist).

    I am just speculating however.


  • The majority of US oil imports come from Canada but everyone in the US ignores the Canadians when it comes to oil (actually when it comes to most things). Most ME oil goes to Japan, Europe & China, the US has large reserves which it keeps stockpiling in case of another oil embargo a la 1973.


  • @Ping Pong at 12:30 PM, no need to speculate re :”I believe also the lifting of sanctions on Iran will also play a part. … the Shia (who are often the target of the Jihadist”

    The author’s remarks above are in concert with the experts’ analysis on that matter and your remarks mirror his and theirs. So your earlier reference to Geo-political movementations re oil is absolutely correct re IRAN and Pres Obama’s seemingly obsessive intent to ensure that nuclear proliferation deal was completed and sanctions lifted.

    Maybe the oil money angle was not the main thrust at inception of the talks but since the expanded violence of ISIS it certainly became vitally important to have Iran as a counterpoint to the Saudi generated Sunni terrorists.

    Careful study shows how absolutely complex this entire scenario really is. Obama/US are on a slippery slope with Iran but it’s a dance they have done for years with the Gulf States particularly the Emirates and the same Saudia Arabia, so they can manage it.

    BTW, sometimes there are very good reasons for a dictator…and now the world knows how to belatedly appreciate the one called Saddam Hussein.

    And of course, Colin Powell warned: if you break it you are responsible, so….

    @Sargeant at 12:51 PM, excellent amplification. And apart from oil, the Chinese are also buying up or partnering on ownership of all the base minerals for manufacturing. Early this year Bloomberg reported on the many changes in the mining business and the large imprint of China in Australia and the other key mining nations.

    We say it often but learning Chinese is as propos today as learning English is for all non-English speaking business people.

    They are taking over the damn place…1.4 bullion citizens and counting. The US is only 300+ million. And as Pacha (where is that dude) highlighted many blogs back the Chinese currency is now one of the ‘official’ world currencies.


  • Pingback: Sunni mosques in east Iraq attacked after ISIS-claimed blasts - RiyadhVision

Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s