Saudi Arabia: The scapegoat of terrorism
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There are some voices in the international media that are trying very hard to draw an intellectual and ideological link between terrorism and Saudi Arabia. The question is: Can this claim be substantiated by facts? More importantly, how, when and where was this alleged link established to begin with?

If we allow ourselves to commit the fallacy of looking at things in a superficial manner — that is nearly devoid of critical thought and proper scrutiny — then we will run the risk of being quicker to point our fingers at the nearest suspect.

However remotely associated with terrorism they are. With Saudi Arabia becoming a reliable scapegoat for the media to take aim at with minimally researched accusations and falsified allegations, both readers and viewers will be unfairly shielded from the facts and the figures that they are entitled to.

Since they deserve to know the truth and learn about the real sources of terrorism, it is only fair to them and to the integrity of the media to have the unadulterated facts presented to them in order for them to reach their own conclusions.

In fact, I think that presenting the facts as they are is considered the best way to educate the masses about national security matters that are of concern to all the interconnected countries of the world. Indeed, what is happening in the Middle East affects the West as much as it affects the East.

When we talk about what is infamously referred to as Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, we are talking about labels, meanings and concepts that not only are very loose, but are never even used in Saudi discourse to refer to any religious establishment.

Granted, it is true that Saudi Arabia is considered to be a conservative state that uses the Quran and the Prophet’s sayings and practices as the core pillars of its constitution, and that there is still plenty of room for cultural and social reform, as do many other nations in varying degrees.

However, to accuse Saudi of spreading the ideology of violent extremism and terrorism is nothing but pure conjecture that is based on a shaky foundation of uncorroborated assumptions. Let us turn to the facts, like the fact that Saudi Arabia is the largest state sponsor of the United Nations Fund for the fight against terrorism, with a contribution of $110 million.

The facts also state that Saudi Arabia is one of the most susceptible to terrorist attacks, whether it’s from Al-Qaeda, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Hezbollah, as it has been subjected to more than 30 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda and more than 20 terrorist attacks by ISIS, the latter of which has bombed mosques, and targeted both civilians and security personnel.

Additionally, Saudi authorities thwarted 17 ISIS attempts to attack and disrupt the Kingdom’s security, including one where an ISIS militant tried to attack the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah. These facts, however, may still not be enough for some people who insist on promoting the idea that Saudi Arabia is reaping what it has sown, as they claim that the Saudi built religious schools around the world that encourage militancy and extremism.

This brings us to the second set of facts, of which cannot be reached unless we ask the following two questions: First, where does ISIS predominantly operate on the ground? The answer is obviously Iraq, Syria and Libya. Second, how many religious schools (referred to colloquially as “Madrasas”) have been built by Saudi Arabia in these three countries? The answer is zero. That’s because Saddam Hussein, Hafez Al-Assad, his son Bashar, and Muammar Al-Gaddafi have vehemently denied any Saudi cultural or religious presence on their lands.

These are the facts that must be put into consideration in order for us to reassess a multitude of issues that need to be clarified with careful, objective and exhaustive scrutiny.

In spite of all the aforementioned facts, Saudi Arabia still has a responsibility to eradicate extremism both militarily and ideologically, which is a responsibility it shares with every other nation that wants a more peaceful and economically prosperous global community.

In light of all of the above, why are there still voices insisting on linking Saudi Arabia to terrorism through unsubstantiated theories?

Additionally, why is there a seemingly concerted media effort to obscure Iran’s crimes against its neighbors as well as the United States, or the fact that Iran has been declared a global terrorism sponsor by the U.S. government?

In addition, why does the media seem to forget that Iran’s aggressions has directly and indirectly caused the death of American soldiers and citizens, whether through its Revolutionary Guards or through extremist militias such as Hezbollah?

The most perplexing question is: Why have both Al-Qaeda and ISIS never initiated any attack on Iranian soil? The answer to this question might explain why the U.S. Treasury Department listed and sanctioned a number of Al-Qaeda leaders a couple of weeks ago, all of whom are currently residing in Iran.

These are the questions that are in need of immediate answers. U.S. national security deserves to be both reinforced and protected, as the security of the United States is in fact an extension of global security. As such, the presence of voices that continue to conceal facts and propagate baseless assumptions that are far from the truth will have an inevitable effect on finding the right solutions to bolster the strength and durability of global security.

Going back to Saudi Arabia, the most important question now is: Other than ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Iran, who stands to benefit from promoting the now fashionable demonization of Saudi Arabia, which is considered, by the testimony of the leaders and the officials of the civilized world, to be a trusted and reliable ally against terrorism?

Salman Al-Ansari is the Founder & President of the Washington DC-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC).


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.