Skip to comments.Are Saudis exporting more than aid?
Posted on 02/07/2005 6:41:55 AM PST by Land_of_Lincoln_John
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- A powerful Saudi charity under scrutiny for alleged terrorist financing is expanding operations in tsunami-ravaged areas of Indonesia, importing a hard-line religious message that the West fears could spread extremist Islam in the world's most populous Muslim nation.
The presence of the International Islamic Relief Organization could complicate relief efforts in Indonesia, which is desperate for help but also under pressure to contain Islamic militants. Attacks have included nightclub bombings in 2002 that killed 202 people.
It also offers a high-profile test of Saudi promises to closely monitor its major aid societies. Many have faced probes as possible back channels for Islamic terrorist groups and vanguards for the kingdom's strict interpretation of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism.
The terrorism money trail is a central topic at an international counterterrorism conference wrapping up Tuesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The International Islamic Relief Organization, or IIRO -- one of Saudi Arabia's biggest benevolent groups -- has been cleared of any possible terror links by Saudi auditors. But experts who study terrorist financing still raise questions about the group and its parent body, the Muslim World League, which is considered close to the Saudi royal family and propagates Wahhabist Islam around the globe.
Many scholars consider Wahhabist beliefs part of the bedrock for Islamic extremism and a guiding force for Saudi-born al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The tsunami could offer Saudi-style Islam an opportunity to gain ground in Indonesia, where more moderate ideas of faith have dominated.
Makes me mad. The Saudi royal family supports the most conservative religious element in the kingdom to atone for the lavish, vulgar lifestyles of the 40,000 or so in their royal family.