- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 5, 2003

Congressional investigators have targeted extremist Muslims in America, those described as members of the Wahhabi movement who have become increasingly influential throughout the United States — buoyed by foreign state-sponsored doctrines and a wellspring of cash used to recruit and train international terrorists.

“The extremist ideology is Wahhabism, a major force behind terrorist groups like al Qaeda,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, whose Senate Judiciary subcommittee on technology, terrorism and government information held recent hearings on the terrorist threat in the United States.

“It is widely recognized that all 19 of the [September 11] suicide pilots … were Wahhabi followers,” he said. “Since then, many questions have been asked about the role in that day’s terrible events and in other challenges we face in the war against terror of Saudi Arabia and its official sect, a separatist, exclusionary and violent form of Islam known as Wahhabism.”

Mr. Kyl noted that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi subjects, adding that Wahhabism is the source of the “overwhelming majority of terrorist atrocities in today’s world.”



The congressional probe, according to Capitol Hill sources, has focused on unpublished U.S. intelligence information stating that Wahhabi agents from Saudi Arabia have been responsible for terrorist attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. It also has focused on government documents showing that the Wahhabi movement has stepped up its efforts to penetrate the United States.

Federal law enforcement authorities believe cash from Saudi Arabia has been a significant source of funding for global terrorism, particularly the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire.

The authorities also said al Qaeda “sleeper cells” working in the United States have begun recruiting operatives who might be harder to detect in an effort to defeat the country’s heightened state of security since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Potential operatives include U.S. citizens with valid passports, they said.

Part of the effort, the authorities said, also has targeted black Muslims in this country believed to be sympathetic to Islamic extremism — using mosques, prisons and universities throughout the United States.

The Wahhabi movement seeks to advance a global agenda of holy war, or jihad, and to impose Wahhabism on the international Islamic community, the authorities said.

They also noted that the movement continues to seek a U.S. base to fund recruitment and tactical support of terror operations in this country and overseas.

Mr. Kyl noted during a recent hearing that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a former top al Qaeda lieutenant captured in Pakistan last March, had “reached deep into the heartland,” lining up agents in Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; and Peoria, Ill.

Authorities believe that terrorists operating in this country include groups committed to international jihad and that they have demonstrated a keen ability to withstand numerous and significant setbacks. Since the September 11 attacks, they said, al Qaeda terrorists have been involved in at least a dozen terrorist attacks around the world directed against the United States and its allies.

“To examine the role of Wahhabism and terrorism is not to label all Muslims as extremists. Indeed, I want to make this point very, very clear,” Mr. Kyl said.

“Analyzing Wahhabism means identifying the extreme element that, although enjoying immense political and financial resources thanks to support by a sector of the Saudi state, seeks to globally hijack Islam, one of the world’s three great Abrahamic faiths.

“It means understanding who our worst enemies are and how we can support the majority of the world’s Muslims, ordinary, normal people who desire to live in a safe, secure and stable environment in their own effort to defeat terror,” he said. “In the end, Islamist terror must be defeated to a significant extent within Islam, by Muslims themselves.”

Mr. Kyl noted that without oil and the creation of the Saudi Kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained “a lunatic fringe.” The ruling House of Saud in Riyaddh belongs to the Wahabbi clan.

Since the September 11 attacks, the authorities said the FBI has investigated more than 4,000 terrorist threats to the United States and that the number of active FBI investigations and the potential terrorist activity has quadrupled.

More than 35 potential terrorist incidents inside the United States have been disrupted by the FBI since the attacks through preventive actions, arrests, the seizure of funds and disruption of terrorist recruiting and training efforts, they said.

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