Sunday, November 07, 2004

Radical Saudi Clerics Openly Call for Jihad in Iraq

Just as U.S. troops are gearing up for a major assault on the militant stronghold of Fallujah, the Kuwait Times reports that 26 prominent Saudi religious ulema (scholars) -- including Sheikh Safar Al-Hawali, Sheikh Salman Al-Awdah, Sheikh Nasser Al-Omar, Sheikh Hatem al-Aouni and Sheikh Awad Al-Qarni -- have called on Iraqis to wage holy way against the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq. The call was made in an open letter addressed to the Iraqi people, dated November 5 and posted on the internet on Saturday.

The letter is quoted as saying: "Fighting the occupiers is a duty for all those who are able. It is a jihad (holy war) to push back the assailants ... Resistance is a legitimate right. A Muslim must not inflict harm on any resistance man or inform about them. Instead, they should be supported and protected.... Those occupiers, there is no doubt they are warring aggressors and it is legitimate to fight them until they leave humiliated. Even earthly laws acknowledge the right of people to resist...."

The close connections to al-Qaeda of some of the clerics cited as signatories of this letter were explored by headland in Cleric With Links to 9-11, Bin Laden and Madrid Made Secret Deal with Saudi Regime. According to Spanish and Italian newspapers, Sheikh Salman al-Awdah funneled money to an Egyptian, Rabei Osman Ahmed, the alleged mastermind behind the March 2004 Madrid train bombings. Moreover, Al-Awdah, Al-Omar, and Al-Hawali were singled out for praise by one of the September 11 hijackers, Sa'id al-Ghamidi, in a video, aired by Al-Jazeera in September 2003, in which he appeared reading his last will and testament. Al-Awdah and Al-Hawali were also praised in a videotape recorded by Osama bin Laden in which he thanked the two clerics for "enlightening Muslim youth."

The article in today's Kuwait Times, "Saudi ulema urge jihad in Iraq" notes that Al-Hawali's name appeared on a list issued last month by a group of Arab intellectuals who seek prosecution of prominent clerics for encouraging terrorism. Needless to say, the continued protection by the Saudi regime of clerics such as Al-Hawali and Al-Awdah, founding members of the Movement for Islamic Resurgence, a front for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, is disturbing.

In Cleric With Links to 9-11, Bin Laden and Madrid Made Secret Deal with Saudi Regime, light on Riyadh's toleration of these radical clerics was provided by a quote from a revealing article published in Intelligence Online in June, 2002. That article pointed to a secret deal between these radical clerics and the Saudi regime:
...since Sept. 11 an informal pact has governed relations between the ruling Saud family and sympathizers of Ben Laden. To avoid tarnishing the country's image even more, Bin Laden's friends agreed to keep a low profile and the regime promised to tolerate their presence. The agreement was reached between the boss of internal security, Nayef Bin Abdel Aziz (presently convalescing in Switzerland) and members of the Movement for Islamic Resurgence, a front for Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Officials from the interior ministry feared - and rightly so - what would happen if the pact were broken. Under the accord, the two leading figures in the movement, Sfar Al Hawli and Salman Al Awdah, promised to abstain from any anti-American acts or rhetoric (which nonetheless continued in dozens of mosques after Sept. 11) in return for the government's leniency and eventual release of group members who were jailed some months ago.
Plainly, Sheiks Al-Awdah, Al-Omar and Al-Hawali are abandoning any semblance of a low profile in their continued support of terrorism against the West. How long can the Saudi regime pretend to ignore them?

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|| headland, 5:06 AM

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