Riyadh major foreign sponsor of extremism in UK: Think tank
A British think tank says Saudi Arabia is the main sponsor of extremism in the UK, urging a probe into sources of the money being injected mainly by the Riyadh regime into the institutions promoting radicalism in the European state.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Henry Jackson Society said Saudi Arabia has, since the 1960s, sponsored a multimillion-dollar effort to export the radical Wahhabi ideology across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the west, adding that foreign funding for extremism in Britain mainly comes from the Saudi kingdom.
In the UK, the report said, the funding “has taken the form of endowments” to institutions, which have played host to “extremist preachers and the distribution of extremist literature.”
“Influence has also been exerted through the training of British Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, as well as the use of Saudi textbooks in a number of the UK’s independent Islamic schools,” the report said.
A number of “hate preachers” in the UK sit within the Wahhabi ideology and are connected with overseas-sponsored extremism, it added.
The report further found a surge in the level of Saudi funding to promote Wahhabism worldwide, which doubled in 2015 compared to an estimated $2 billion annually in 2007.
It also revealed that “numerous” cases of British nationals fighting alongside the Takfiri terror groups in Iraq and Syria are thought to have been radicalized through foreign-funded institutions and preachers.
Wahhabism is the extremist ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia and freely preached by clerics supported by the regime in Riyadh. The ideology has been a source of inspiration for terrorists worldwide.
Daesh and other Takfiri terrorist groups take advantage of Wahhabism to declare people of other faiths “infidels.” The idea provides a justification for the terrorists to kill those individuals.
Tom Wilson, author of the report, said, “Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly at the top of the list” of the countries involved in advancing extremism.
“Research indicates that some Saudi individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology. So it is ironic, to say the least, that Saudi Arabia is singling out Qatar for links to extremism when it has patently failed to get its own house in order,” he said.
Riyadh and its Persian Gulf have cut ties with Qatar and imposed a siege on the country, which they accuse of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region.
The Saudi Embassy in London has reacted angrily to the Henry Jackson Society report and claimed that its findings “are baseless.”
Wednesday’s report comes at a time when British Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to publish the findings of the government’s own investigation into foreign funding of terrorism.
The government inquiry has been completed, but No 10 says ministers are still deciding on its publication.
Fresh reports said the British premier was not likely to release the findings of the probe out of the fear that the move would hurt relations with Saudi Arabia.
However, British Labour MP Dan Jarvis said the report shed light on “very worrying” ties between Riyadh and the sponsorship of extremism and urged the government to release its own report on foreign funding.
Britain should use every tool at its disposal to identify “the networks that promote and support extremism and shutting down the financial networks that fund it,” he said.
Earlier this year, the British government approved $4.5 billion worth of arms exports licenses to Saudi Arabia.
May paid a visit to Saudi Arabia in April.
She argues that relations with the Saudi kingdom are important for British security and economy, turning a deaf ear to numerous calls by opposition and human rights groups for the immediate suspension of UK arms exports to the Riyadh regime.