- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

The terrorist pipeline accepts all who are vulnerable, both young and old, creating a culture around the people it attracts to foster not only terrorists' goals, but also a sense of security in them. Our attention has been focused only on the finished product. We see the Mohamed Attas, the Palestinian suicide bombers and the others who are the products of the pipeline. But the other end, where the young are fed into the system and where millions of dollars are spent in indoctrination and support, is where we should be concentrating our long-term attention.

The recent federal raids on Arab "charitable" organizations in this country should focus on these charities and others like them not only here, but around the world, and we must persuade our allies in Europe and elsewhere to do the same. First, these charities help produce the suicidal terrorists of the future. Second, they support the families of dead terrorists, propagating the idea that the dead suicide bomber is a hero, and his family is revered.

The "zakat," an annual charitable donation, is a normal duty for members of the Saudi royal family and for many of the wealthiest people in nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and others. Much of the donated money is spent on spreading the roots of terror around the world. In Africa today, Saudi-run charities are spending millions of dollars on food, supplies and medicine for the poor. But the price demanded of the poor to receive these benefits can only be described as indoctrination to terror.

The terrorist infrastructure has been built with great care in sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Uganda, the al Qaeda and others like them are operating with considerable freedom. They, and other terrorist groups, are expected to carry out more attacks against Americans and our interests there. Many of them are linked to the Saudi charities and, in U.N.-speak, "non-governmental organizations" (NGO). The so-called charities operate under a number of names. The Wafa Humanitarian Organization and Mercy International are only two of them. There also is an NGO called al-Haramayn, which is bankrolled by the Saudis and suspected of using its funds to spread terrorism.

Consider the food-distribution programs. Donating food, medicines and other supplies to the poor is indeed charitable work. But like everything else these organizations touch, there are strings attached. For example, if you want your 20-pound sack of rice to feed your family, you must sit and listen to a two-hour lecture on Wahhabism. The Wahhabist Muslims, who are the controlling force in Saudi Arabia, are a radical sect that preaches holy war against the West. When you get your two-hour lecture and go home with your rice, you may be told that the next time you need to bring your son and have him sit with you through the lecture before you get the rice.

The indoctrination continues. And it may sink in for the father, or the son, or both. People who are taught hate will remember it, and eventually may believe in it. And for the next bag of rice or the one after it, they may be happy to pray for the terrorists or to join them. Many of the nations in eastern Africa have no government stability, no leaders of any stature who could convince their people that the indoctrination is false. Where desperation is one of the common features of daily life in places such as Somalia terrorism that reliably feeds and pays may seem a reasonable alternative. And this is where it takes hold.

In December, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called on his people to help him control the madrassas, or religious schools, where the "Kalashnikov culture" as he called it, is taught to the young. His statement is right, as far as it goes, but it needs to be applied beyond the schools to whatever system including the charities that teaches violence. Distribute the food, the medicine and the clothing. But stop the indoctrination.

The Iraqis, Iranians and others subsidize the suicide bombers by telling them that their families will be cared for when they have successfully blown themselves up, taking innocent lives. And the families are cared for either directly or indirectly. In this country, we have laws that prevent felons from profiting from their crimes. So it should be with terrorists.

But regardless of the Iranians, the Iraqis or even the Syrians and Libyans all of whom have their hands in funding terrorists and their breeding grounds it always seems to come back to the Saudis. The Saudis have the distinction of being among the most wealthy of the world, but are also controlled by one of the most radical Muslim sects. The Wahhabists preach war, and cannot conceive of peace before the destruction of any culture that is different from theirs.

The Saudi government has been impervious to our criticism and to our requests for their help. The resolutions coming out of this week's Beirut summit of Arab nations are nothing more than praise for the murderous intifada that the Palestinians have conducted for nearly two years. Our rapproachment to the Saudis and others attending the summit sought to lower their opposition to the necessary overthrow of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and to raise support for at lease a cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israel. But the Saudis and the others have rejected both. The attempt at detente has failed. It is time to turn up the heat on those, particularly the Saudis, who reject peace and create terror.


Jed Babbin was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration.


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