The aim of this article is to provide an insight into how Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is responsible, at least in part, for the recent wave of Islamic terrorism in the UK.
Britain’s approach towards fighting Islamic terrorism has come under scrutiny recently in the midst of three terror attacks in as many months.
It was revealed last month that intelligence officers have identified 23,000 Jihadist extremists living in our country. Unfortunately (and to the majority of people’s extreme frustration), apart from being told that the internet is going to be regulated more heavily, very little has been done to assure us that these potential terrorists are under control.
Islamic terrorism, or perhaps more accurately; how to handle Islamic terrorism, was no doubt a hugely important factor in the recent General Election. The two clear front runners; the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, pulled in opposite directions when proposing how best to tackle recent events.
In all honesty, both parties were pretty damn useless. While Theresa May focused on monitoring the internet and “limiting” immigration, Jeremy Corbyn concentrated on police numbers, foreign policy and one very important fact: our relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Allow me to make it clear here that, on a whole, I do not trust Jeremy Corbyn in any way, shape or form to adequately handle Islamic terrorism. Aside from his previous relationships with well known terrorists (and I’m not talking about the IRA), he refuses to cap net immigration, he refused to back a ‘shoot to kill’ policy for terrorists, and his previous voting record in relation to anti-terrorism Acts is nothing short of atrocious. I could go on with my list, but all being said, Corbyn was absolutely spot on to question our relationship with Saudi Arabia recently.
The Secret Report of the British Home Office
One week before Britain’s General Election, it was reported that the Home Office has revealed that they may refuse to publish the results of an investigation that is being conducted in relation to Britain’s foreign funding of Islamic extremist groups.
The investigation was launched in 2015 by then Prime Minister, David Cameron, as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats agreed to support the extension of British airstrikes against ISIS in December 2015, while the Conservatives agreed to carry out the above mentioned investigation.
The report, it is rumoured, is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia; a country which Britain recently approved £3.5 billion worth of arms export licenses to.
The investigation was to be carried out by the government’s Extremism Analysis Unit (which was then headed up by May) and the findings were to be published in Spring 2016. One year on, and the investigation is still incomplete. Due to the investigation’s conclusions on Saudi Arabia, the Home Office has revealed that the results of the investigation may not be released to the general public due to their “sensitive” nature.
Both Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron (ex-leader of the Liberal Democrats) have challenged May not to shelve the investigation. Tom Brake (of the Liberal Democrats) pressed May on when the report would be published, suggesting:
“As Home Secretary at the time, your department was one of those leading on the report. Eighteen months later, and following two horrific terrorist attacks by British-born citizens, that report still remains incomplete and unpublished.
It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hard line Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.”
Since the date of Blake’s letter, Britain has, of course, suffered yet another Islamic terror attack.
Saudi’s Relationship with Islamic Radicalisation
There is mounting evidence to support the claim that Saudi Arabia has links to Islamic radicalisation in Britain. British Jihadis have been known to have been groomed in Wahhabi mosques (more on this shortly) and a number of Jihadis all over Europe have been known to visit Saudi Arabia before carrying out terrorist attacks. One prominent example of this is Khalid Masood; a Muslim convert who killed five people in a vehicle ramming/stabbing terrorist attack in Westminster, London, in March.
Masood visited Saudi Arabia three times before carrying out his attack; twice to teach English (between 2005 and 2009 on a work Visa) and once to visit the country’s holy sites (on an “Umrah” Visa). The Saudi authorities in Britain granted permission for Masood’s Visas all three times, despite him having no academic qualifications for his English teaching job and, perhaps more worryingly, despite him being a criminal who was convicted of multiple violent offences spanning a 20-year period.
The Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in London reported that Masood was allowed to travel to Saudi because he had no criminal record in that country. This, of course, is a complete lie. A United States government source has even revealed that Masood had close relationships with a number of known Jihadis. What we need to ask ourselves here is; did London’s Saudi embassy hide this information on purpose, or is this instead a lack of competency on their behalf?
Considering that 85% of places at Saudi Arabia’s Islamic University of Medina are reserved for foreign students, stories like Masood’s are not unique. Hundreds of indoctrinated individuals are returning to Britain with their newly found Wahhabi views every year.
What is Wahhabism?
Saudi Arabia promotes an interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism. Wahhabism, which was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 1700s, is an Islamic doctrine which follows the belief that the period of the Prophet Muhammad’s stay in Medina was the perfect chapter of Islam and is subsequently the way of life that all Muslims should adhere to. Wahhabism is the same as Salafism in the sense that it follows a literal interpretation of the Quran and is an ultra-conservative, strict and often brutal interpretation of Islam.
Abd al-Wahhab demanded that those who did not conform to his views be killed, their wives and daughters be violated and their possessions be taken away. According to Wahhabi Muslims, any other branch of Islam (such as Shiite and Sufis) are not even considered Muslim. Because of this, Abd al-Wahhab demanded that they should be killed. Abd al-Wahhab’s encouragement of violence in the spreading of Islam has lead to many Wahhabi-inspired groups today (such as Al Qaeda, Islamic State and Boko Haram), giving rise to cells of extreme Islamic activists operating outside of Saudi Arabia.
Although the mainstream media have taken a compelling interest in Wahhabism in recent years, this is not a new philosophy. In particular, unemployed young people have been attracted to Wahhabism and have embraced Islamic principles of social justice and Quranic punishments since the 1980s.
There are a couple of areas that I’d like to explore in relation to the title of this article. They are: Britain’s trading relationship with Saudi Arabia and Saudi’s funding of Wahhabi mosques and extremist literature.
Britain’s Trade Deals with Saudi
Since 2008, the UK government has approved a colossal £9 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. To get an idea of what percentage of our arms we sell to Saudi Arabia, if we look at the official figures from HM Revenue and Customs, we can see that in 2015, 83% of all UK arms went to Saudi Arabia. In monetary value, this was a figure of around £900 million. Interestingly, over the same period, the UK imported around £900 million worth of oil in return from Saudi. These figures certainly highlight the magnitude of our relationship with Saudi. This isn’t some small-scale operation. This is huge amounts of weapons and money.
Wahhabism is becoming increasingly influential across the globe and we should not downplay the role that Saudi Arabia’s money plays in this. Over the last 40 years, Saudi’s capital, Riyadh, has invested around £6 billion into charitable foundations that work towards replacing mainstream Islam with Wahhabism. Intelligence experts at the EU estimate that between 15% and 20% of these funds have been diverted towards violent Jihadi groups such as Al-Qaeda.
UK Wahhabi Mosques and Extremist Literature
The UK’s Wahhabi mosques are financed by Saudi money and they promote the dangerous interpretation of Islam which has been discussed above. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that a number of the Muslims that attend these mosques are a threat to the safety of British citizens.
Make no mistake that Saudi Arabia fund these mosques across Europe as a deliberate attempt to convert everyone to their radical interpretation of Islam and they have every intention of hurting those who refuse to adjust. Those that promote Wahhabism, pull from Islamic scripture notions to wage Jihad on the “non-Muslim society”.
A team of researchers led by Dr Denis MacEoin in 2007 carried out a two-year project that uncovered a huge amount of dangerous and violent literature from inside approximately a quarter of Britain’s mosques. All of this literature had been published and distributed by agencies that had links to Saudi Arabia. This is terrifying in two ways. Firstly, there are around 1750 mosques in the UK so this suggests that we have at least a couple of hundred Wahhabi-funded mosques in our country. Secondly, the nature of this material was extremely worrying in itself. Among the contents of this literature, were instructions to kill non-Muslims or those who dare to leave Islam, throw homosexuals off tall buildings or mountains and stone adulterers to death. The above-mentioned, Saudi-funded mosques are little more than propaganda factories that spread the word of Wahhabism across Britain, Europe, and beyond.
Saudi Arabia are currently spending a ridiculous amount of money funding Wahhabi institutions abroad. Yahya Birt, director of The City Circle, estimates:
“Saudi spending on religious causes abroad [is] between $2 billion (£960 million) and $3 billion per year since 1975. [This] has been spent on 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools.”
Perhaps the most crucial part of the quote above is the part that highlights the fact that Wahhabi radicalisation has been going on for at least 42 years. This really paints a picture of how deep-rooted Wahhabism is in today’s Britain.
The above information tells a frightening story of how we’re arming a country that promotes a set of beliefs which are 100% incompatible with those of Britain. To put it bluntly (but honestly), this is a belief system that promotes the idea that we should be killed. We’re not only arming this country, but we’re allowing their propaganda to circulate here and we’re subsequently doing very little to stop the mass scale radicalisation that is happening right on our doorstep.
If we’re to be serious about protecting ourselves from Islamic terrorism in Britain, it certainly makes sense for us to attack the root cause of the problem and not just trim the grass above. Not only do our trade deals with Saudi Arabia need to be taken into account, but I would like to see immediate action being taken against Britain’s Wahhabi-inspired mosques.
I certainly believe that more typically “right wing” policies (such as vastly reducing net immigration and rejecting the idea of “diversity” in our country) would have a positive impact on Britain, however, we’re currently in a situation where we’re valuing our global trade relationships at a higher price than human life. We no doubt need to warrant a zero-tolerance approach towards any potential Jihadis that we already have in the country (we could start by looking at that watch list!) but we also need to stop this problem escalating to an even greater level. This includes investigating our relationship with Saudi Arabia.