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20 years

October 13, 2001

By Jon Christian Ryter
Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved
To distribute this article, please post this web address or hyperlink

When President George Herbert Walker Bush put together his Muslim coalition at the onset of Desert Shield in August, 1990 the Saudi royal family had a vested interest in allowing the American military to take up temporary residency on Arab soil—Saddam Hussein. Saddam, who miscalculated, believed that the United States would not come to the defense of Kuwait if he moved swift enough, in blitzkreg-style, and overran the nation before either the Saudi government or the United States could respond.

Saddam, who spent ten years fighting a no-win war with Iran and gained millions of dollars in covert money from the U.S. government, and was aided with covert intelligence from the CIA that would help him become the strongest military force on the Arabian peninsula, was determined to go far beyond Kuwait in 1990. Saddam intended to extend not only his northern border to gain access to the Persian Gulf. Saddam wanted direct access to the Arabian Sea through the Red Sea—access which Saudi Arabia possesses. To gain it, all he needed to do when he secured his grip on Kuwait was to attack Saudi Arabia. The added plus for Saddam was the fact that Saudi Arabia is the most oil-rich nation on the Arabian peninsula and it is, because of its potential tonnage of black gold, the loudest voice in OPEC. If Saddam controlled Saudi Arabia and its oil wealth, it would be simply a matter of time before he would be in a position to overrun the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, and Oman.

Saddam made two very serious mistakes in 1991. First, he failed to make Israel the villain in the eyes of the Arab world before he invaded Kuwait (which would have made it difficult for the Sauds to help the Bush-Quayle Administration build a coalition throughout the Islamic world). Second, Saudi intelligence agents learned that Saddam Hussein also intended to invade Saudi Arabia if the United States failed to act.

Because of the threat from Saddam to their own national security, the Saudi royal family invited the Bush-Quayle Administration to bring the full military might of the United States to Arabian peninsula. In addition to military installations in Saudi Arabia, the New World Order coalition that was structured by Bush, Secretary of State James Baker, Defense Secretary (and now Vice President) Dick Cheney, and General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (now Secretary of State), bases were created in Qatar (where CNN is now the majority shareholder in the al- Jazeera al-Qaeda television station which airs all of Osama bin Laden’s hate messages to Islamic militants all over the world), and in Bahrain. The militant Islamic states of the Mideast: United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen refused to allow either British or American forces on their land. Jordan would allow “flyovers,” but they were too close to Syria to allow American troops to roost in Damascus.
Hussein, realizing he had overplayed his hand once the 21st century air war commenced with B-2 Stealth bombers that eluded Iraqi radar and GPS and laser-guided bombs did everything except knock on the doors of Hussein’s military bunkers before entering, decided he would have to bring Israel into the war, forcing America to defend the Jews and change the nature of the Gulf War from a war between Muslim nations to one in which infidels, Jews and Muslims were fighting the descendent of Saladin, the man who restoring the glory of Babylon.

But, try as he did, the coalition held. When the ground war against Iraq started, it lasted less than a week. Hussein’s vaunted Royal Guard surrendered to anyone who stumbled upon them. CNN, ABC, CBS and ABC news crews were shocked when Hussein’s best troops tried to surrender to them hoping the news crews would supply them with a morsel of food or a cup of water. The Iraqi troops which survived the most horrendous bombings in the history of warfare had no stomach for the “Mother of Battles.” There was no Islamic resistance between the advancing American forces and Baghdad; and there was nothing between Saddam Hussein and arrest—or death.

Nothing, that is, except the Saudi royal family.

Pressured by Saudi’s senior cleric Sheikh Hamoud bin Oqla al-Shuaibi (a Shi’ite cleric), King Fahd was told to give up the quest to capture Hussein or face a fatwa. Public opinion in the Muslim world had quietly shifted during the Gulf War for two reasons. First, the United States took Saddam Hussein’s bait and helped Israel when Iraq began shooting Scud missiles at the Jews. In order to keep Israel from retaliating against Iraq, the United States supplied Israel with anti-missile missiles. It was a lose-lose situation for the U.S. military. Had Bush not supplied Israel with antimissile missiles, the Jews would have launched their own air strikes against Baghdad, making it appear that the Jews were part of the Arab-British-American coalition. But, in supplying Israel with a sophisticated defense system, America—the infidel—was aiding the Jews against the Muslims. According to the Koran, as an ally of Israel, the United States could no longer billet its troops, or maintain military bases, on Saudi soil since they were an ally of the Muslim’s chief enemy.

To avoid a fatwa in 1991 against the Saudi family initiated by the Wahhabis clerics (which has been the source of Saudi legitimacy for the past 250 years), King Fahd was pressured to force the United States to end the Gulf War before American, British and Saudi troops marched into Baghdad. Further, the Bush-Quayle Administration was forced to allow Saddam Hussein to remain in power.

The Wahhabis Clerics

The Wahhabis are a puritanical minority in Saudi Arabia with a direct ancestral link to Muhammad. They are very powerful not only in Saudi Arabia but throughout the Arab world.. Like the Saudi royal family, which also claims direct ancestral ties to Muhammad, the Wahhabis are Sunnis. But, unlike the Saudi royal family which has adopted many western customs and a more conciliatory attitude towards Israel in order to maintain its political ties with the United States, the Wahhabis are becoming much more militant with respect to Israel and are now defending the Shi’ite militants—whom they traditionally hate. Even though cleric Sheikh Hamoud bin Oqla al-Shuaibi is 80-years old, and blind, he is the most powerful holy man in Saudi Arabia. Oqla, who lives in the town of Burayda, a Wahhabi stronghold north of Riyadh, has made the Saudi royal family walk a virtual tightrope between the Saud’s need to support its most powerful military backer—the United States—and the increasingly puritanical Shi’ite views of the Koran.

Oqla, who was born in 1921—the year the Al Sauds came into power—rose to become the most powerful cleric in Saudi Arabia. What gives Oqla his power is not the Wahhabis as a clan, since they are one of the smallest minority groups on the Arabian peninsula. Oqla, who has trained many of Saudi Arabia’s clerics over the past five decades, is probably the most respected cleric in the Islamic world due to the political clout in the Arab world of three men: Bashar Assad, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

In 1995 Oqla was jailed for two months for accusing the royal family of corruption. Had Oqla simply been a Saudi dissident, he would have simply vanished. While Saudi Arabia is a somewhat democratic monarchy, it is a monarchy first and a democracy second. All important government officials are members of the Al Saud family. Oqla was simply to powerful to keep in jail.

The Fatwa Against King Fahd

Just days after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Oqla issued the first of several fatwas in which the Saudi royal family was warned that “...[w]hoever supports the infidel against Muslims is considered an infidel...It is a duty to wage Jihad on anyone who supports the attack on Afghanistan.” Oqla warned the Saudi royal family, in particular King Fahd, that if the Saudi government helped the United States attack the Taliban in any manner, it would be the responsibility of loyal Muslims everywhere to assassinate the king and any member of the royal family. Not to do so, Oqla insisted, would violate the Koran. The fatwa amounted issued by Oqla amounted to the most significant challenge to the authority of the Al Sauds in 80 years. Religious edicts are official sanctions to overthrow the House of Saud. It effectively authorizes the assassination of the king, and instructs the Saudi people to treat the royal family as Islamic apostates who are subject to the Koranic punishment of death. Anyone who ignore the fatwa can then be declared apostates themselves and, as such, can be subject to a death warrant themselves.

Since the Oqla fatwa was issued, a whole series of fatwas have been issued by prominent Wahhabi clerics instructing their followers to wage jihad on any American living within the kingdom—and condemning the rulers who protect the infidels on their soil. Thus far the dissent the fatwas authorized against the Saudi royal family has not materialized, but a molotov cocktail was thrown at a German couple in Riyadh and a Canadian aircraft technician, Luke Adrey, was shot to death in Kuwait and his Filipino companion was wounded. In addition, two men, one American, were killed by a suicide bomber in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia on October 6. Thirteen thousand Americans live in the eastern province city. When British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced he was going to Riyadh, the royal family discouraged the visit when fatwas turned up specifically naming King Fahd as the target of assassination.

“The Saudi royal family is in a state of anxiety and fear,” said militant Islamic Saad al-Fagih of the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia. “They know that several thousand people have been trained in Afghanistan in the last few years—and there is information that these people have orders to hit the Saudi royal family.”

When the fatwa against the Al Sauds appeared on an official Islamic website Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz met with Shiekh Qqla and attempted to persuade him to retract the fatwa on the king. The Sheikh declined. The Al Sauds, once again, are in trouble. Try as they might to remain moderate—at least in the American public’s eye—King Fahd had a problem. He has to walk a barbed wire fence. If he loses the support of the American military, he risks attack not only from Saddam Hussein but the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden which has thousands of trained operatives living in Saudi Arabia, waiting for orders to overthrow the Saud government. Many of those terrorists are supported by the al-Rashid Trust which publishes the most popular newspaper in the Muslim world.

Whenever Fahd climbs in bed with the Americans he risks assassination. That’s why when Fahd climbs in bed with the American government he always keeps one foot on the floor.

New Yorkers saw that on Thursday, October 11 when Fahd’s nephew, Prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz showed up in New York for a well-publicized guided tour of the World Trade Center. After New York mayor Rudy Giuliani gave the visiting potentate and his entourage a personal tour of the site, the Prince gave the Mayor a check for $10 million. As he handed Giuliani the check, the prince cited the long term friendship that has existed between his nation and the United States and charged that warlord Osama bin Laden does not belong to Islam or any religion in the world. Al-Walid’s rhetoric followed the current political spin here and elsewhere in the world that Islam is not a religion of terrorism—and that terrorists demanding a Jihad against America are not true Muslims. In point of fact, as Al-Walid spun that rhetoric in New York, his uncle—who sent him to America with a $10 million check and a message blaming Israel for the Twin Towers tragedy—was feeling the brunt of the Koran himself at that moment. Fahd stood condemned not only by clerics in Saudi Arabia, but Muslim clerics all over the world.

While Fahd needed to appear as though he was still in bed with America, he now needed both feet firmly planted on the floor—and the Muslim world needed to see that he had a copy of the Koran in his hands.

As Prince Al-Walid gave lip service to America, and a half-hearted condemnation of Osama bin Laden, his aids were passing out official Saudi statements to the media which actually criticized American policy in Afghanistan. “At times like this one,” the official Saudi position stated, “we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.” The official Saudi position is that the jihad against the United States was triggered by America’s ill-advised support of Israel’s terrorism against the helpless Palestinian people. Since Israel is the enemy of the Muslims, anyone who helps the Jews is also an enemy.

To fan the fires of hate against the United States as it intensifies its air war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Front have increased their attacks against the Jews only to provoke lethal responses by the Israelis which has been publicized by CNN’s al-Jazeera satellite TV network to show that as the Americans attack the Taliban in Afghanistan, their ally, Israel, had launched all-out war against the peaceful Palestinians on the West Bank. At the current time, the United States is losing its global public relations war to continue waging its war on terrorism.

With a fatwa against King Fahd that not only authorizes his assassination but the overthrow of the Al Saud dynasty if the royal family does not back the officialMuslim position that the problem in the Mideast is not bin Laden but the Jews, Fahd is doing an impossible highwire act without a net. Afraid to double cross the United States almost as much as he is afraid to cross the Wahhabi clerics who have pronounced a death sentence on the House of Saud, Fahd is offering the United States weak lip service that gets weaker by the day (just as it did during the Gulf War when Fahd was forced to shield Saddam Hussein in order to protect his kingdom). In addition to the fatwa against Fahd, the Muslim clerics have issued fatwas on George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In an attempt to defuse the militant mood in Saudi Arabia and, hopefully, abrogate the fatwa posted by Shiekh Oqla, State cleric and Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Leheidan appeared on Saudi television where he attempted to spin the spin. “The most important trait of true Muslims is to oppose any unjust person who is bent on bloodshed and not to give shelter to any mischief maker,” he declared.

Most of the mature Saudi citizens are firmly behind King Fahd. His problem comes from the more militant Saudi youth, most of whom are unemployed. Unemployment in Saudi Arabia is extremely high. And because it is, most of the Saudis who do not have jobs are very conscious of the 30 to 40 thousand Americans in Eastern Saudi Arabia who are not only gainfully employed, but are earning extremely high incomes by Saudi standards. In addition, there is much recent criticism of King Fahd for hosting some 5,000 military personnel—many of them women. This adds insult to injury in a nation which treats women as second-rate citizens. It is a lesson America did not learn in 1991.

“Osama bin Laden,” Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said, “has become a symbol of defiance. Whoever stands in defiance of American arrogance will be seen as a local hero.”

Reform-minded Saudis and Mideast experts in the White House blame the current fatwa against the Al Sauds on the Saudi government itself which allowed the Wahhabis to dictate the scholastic syllabus. The fatwas—which were circulated in mosques and on the Internet—justified the expulsion of the Al Sauds from Islam on the basis of the Tawhid, the Wahhabi manifesto. The Tawhid is compulsory study for 10-year olds in Saudi Arabia. On page 29 of the Tawhid, Muslim students are taught that “...Allah has said...never support infidels.”



Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
All rights reserved