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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Saudi royal family scared of terrorists?

Earlier this week, Saudi Mufti Sheikh Abd Al-'Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh issued a fatwa prohibiting Saudi youth from engaging in jihad abroad. According to MEMRI, the fatwa comes
against the backdrop of a recent public debate in Saudi Arabia regarding the involvement of Saudi nationals in terrorist activities throughout the world. The debate was triggered by numerous news items indicating that Saudi nationals were participating in terrorist operations in Iraq and in the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon.
Michael Jacobson at Counterterrorism Blog indicates that the fatwa is important for a number of reasons:
First, it helps corroborate a number of statements made recently by US government officials about terrorists and terrorist financing emanating from the Kingdom.


The Grand Mufti’s statements were also notable for another reason. The Saudis are generally reluctant to concede either that Saudi Arabia is a source of terrorism or that Saudi counterterrorism efforts are inadequate.


Finally, with the fatwa, al-Asheikh provided a rare glimpse of transparency into the effectiveness of Saudi efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist financing. The State Department’s 2006 “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report,” an annual report which covers money laundering and terrorist financing, gives a sense of the difficulties in assessing Saudi efforts from the outside.
I would add another reason why the fatwa is important. I think it shows that the Saudi royal family is afraid that an army of ex-Saudis abroad is being built up against them by Osama Bin-Laden (whose original complaints were all against the Saudis) and others. And because of that, as a westerner, I cannot celebrate this fatwa. Let's look at the fatwa:
"In the past, we and others have warned against leaving the country [i.e. Saudi Arabia] for this purpose [i.e. jihad], since the situation was not apparent, the conditions were complicated, and [the sources of authority] were not clear. These young people's rebellion against their rulers and their 'ulama, as well as their leaving the country in order to engage in the so-called jihad outside Saudi Arabia, have caused great evil, including the following:

"1. Disobedience of their rulers and causing them harm, which is a grave sin, as the Prophet said: 'He who obeys an amir - it is as if he obeyed me, and he who does not obey an amir - it is as if he did not obey me'... The evidence for the prohibition on rebelling against a ruler is abundant.

"2. It has been found that many of the young people who left to engage in what they thought to be jihad violated their rightful oath of allegiance [bay'a] to the ruler of this pure country - an oath regarding which there is a consensus among all the figures of authority. [Violating this oath] is forbidden, and is a grave sin...

"3. [These young people] have been easy prey for anyone seeking to corrupt the country and to exploit their [religious] zeal - to the point where they have become walking bombs, killing themselves to accomplish the political and military aims of suspicious elements.

"4. [These young people] have been exploited by outside elements in order to shame this pure country, to inflict damage and suffering upon it, to let its enemies prevail over it, and to justify their greed regarding it. All this is extremely dangerous, because the actions of [these young people] harm the Muslim nation - this damage harms [our] peaceful and serene country [Saudi Arabia]. By their actions, [these young people] are weakening the country and its people."


The mufti continued: "It is well known that jihad is an issue that is the [exclusive] prerogative of the ruler, and that he is the one charged with the obligation to prepare for it and to train the military. The ruler also has the right to dispatch the forces, to declare jihad, and to determine its target and the proper time for battle. All this is in addition to other issues pertaining to jihad, all of which are the [sole] responsibility of the ruler... Among all the Muslim faithful, it is established that jihad can only be waged by order of the imam, and under his banner...

"Thus, setting forth [to wage jihad] without authorization by the ruler contravenes the principles of shari'a and constitutes a grave transgression. Whoever incites these [young people to engage in jihad] is either an ignoramus... or one who is fully aware of the situation and who seeks to inflict damage on this country and its people."
In other words, there's nothing wrong with Jihad if the King wants it. And if the King wants it, he hasn't told anybody.

I think the Saudi royal family is trying to reign in its terrorist exports before they become an army poised against it. It may be too late.


At 1:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This is nothing new, there have been previous fatwas and Wahhabi written books to distance themselves from Al-Qaeda, Bin Laden, and other Qutbist-inspired groups, using as one of their main arguments that while supporting jihad, their methodology is different, and they do not support the takfiri extremists (for obvious self-interest reasons). The most obvious such Saudi we're-so-misunderstood-and-antiterrorism book that comes to mind is The 'Wahhaabi' Myth by Haneef James Oliver

I recommend reading the book for understanding and with discernment.


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