Saudi Arabia makes its condemnation of the Islamic State complete with a statement from Grand Mufti Sheikh Abudulaziz Aal-Alsheikh. The government has already placed the group on its list of terrorist organizations and has promised to punish those found supporting it. It has followed through on that promise by firing imams and jailing Saudis who return to the country after fighting alongside the group in Syria and Iraq. The country has also warned those who offer support — financial or other — to the extremist group.

Grand Mufti: IS is Islam’s ‘enemy No. 1’
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Aal Alsheikh on Tuesday blasted Al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants as “enemy number one” of Islam.

“The ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism… have nothing to do with Islam and (their proponents) are the enemy number one of Islam,” the Kingdom’s top scholar said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.

He cited militants from the Islamic State, which has declared a “caliphate” straddling large parts of Iraq and Syria, and the international Al-Qaeda terror network.

“Muslims are the main victims of this extremism, as shown by crimes committed by the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and groups linked to them,” the grand mufti said, quoting a verse from the Holy Qur’an urging the “killing” of people who do deeds harmful to Islam, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Alsheikh’s stance reflects the growing international hostility toward Islamic State militants, known for their brutality.

August:20:2014 - 07:30 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Asharq Alawsat reports that Saudi Arabia is fully backing a UN resolution that attacks the funding of ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front. The resolution names six individuals to be blacklisted, including two Saudi nationals. Both already appear on Saudi Arabia’s list of “most-wanted” criminals.

Saudi Arabia committed to UN resolution against ISIS, Al-Nusra

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia committed to implementing a UN Security Resolution targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front on Friday, after the measure blacklisted two Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Al-Maulamy, told Asharq Al-Awsat the Kingdom was always in agreement with the “international legitimacy” of the Council and its decrees, and that the latest resolution was being studied closely so that “decisions could be made in light of them.”

The Security Council unanimously adopted a UK-drafted resolution on Friday designed to attack the sources of funding for both groups, blacklisting six individuals believed to be associated with the groups and freezing their assets.

Two of the six individuals, Abdul-Mohsen Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Sharekh and Abdulrahman Mohamed Zafir Al-Dabidi Al-Jahani—both accused of links to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front group currently active in Syria—were Saudi nationals.

August:18:2014 - 08:13 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Who represents the greatest threat to Muslims today? It’s not the US. It’s not Israel. It’s other Muslims, argues Azeem Ibrahim, of the US Army War College, at Al Arabiya TV.

Killing Muslims in the name of Islam is perverse. Religion is being used as a cloak for what is actually “ethnic, social, sectarian and/or tribal cleansing,” he says. Again, an article worth reading in full.

What is the greatest global threat to Muslims?
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

Who is responsible for the greatest numbers of deaths against Muslims today? Who commits the worst atrocities against Muslims? It is not the West that claims the highest headcount nor is it Israel. The sad truth is that today Muslims kill the most Muslims around the world.

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010, more than 100,000 have been killed. Many of these deaths were in Syria, where thousands more languish in prisons expecting similarly grim fates. And with the rise of ISIS and the threat that it poses to regional stability, many more are expected to die.

Most of the fighters are killing “infidels”. Most of the those dying are allegedly “infidels”. Almost always, that means that they are the wrong kind of Muslim to the other Muslim holding the gun. Whether they are fighters or civilians, the sin of those dying is in many cases simply being Sunni rather than Shiite, or Shiite rather than Sunni. And woe betides any smaller minorities caught in the middle.

August:16:2014 - 09:09 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Writing at Al Arabiya TV, Hisham Melhem finds the origin of extremist groups like ISIS to be in the Arab penchant for “conspiracy theories, delusions, self-deception, paranoia and xenophobia.” Undemocratic societies, where government seek to control the flow of information, leave vacuums which people will seek to fill. They end up filling them with nonsense, with anger, with paranoia.

It’s worth reading his column in full. He does a good job of pointing out the various zany theories that are rippling across not only the Arab world, but the world at large. And it’s scary.

Enough lies, the Arab body politic created the ISIS cancer
Hisham Melhem

Most people are averse to introspection, and rarely engage in self-criticism. Arabs are no different. However, the political culture that developed in the Arab World in the last 60 years, particularly in countries ruled by autocratic regimes, shifted blame from their catastrophic failures in governance to other external, sinister forces. For these countries, self-criticism has become next to impossible.

Over time, this legacy has created fertile terrain for conspiracy theories, delusions, self-deception, paranoia and xenophobia. If you read an Arab newspaper or many a website in the region, you will invariably encounter some of these symptoms. Admittedly, sometimes they can be entertaining, but in most cases they are downright ugly, reflecting deep pathologies of fear.

August:16:2014 - 08:55 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

A Saudi imam has received an 8-year jail sentence, a travel ban of 10 years following his jail term, and is banned for life from preaching sermons, Saudi Gazette reports. The unnamed imam was convicted of spreading sedition and sowing sectarian dissent.

Mosque imam gets eight years in jail

RIYADH — The Summary Court in Riyadh has sentenced a 52-year-old Saudi mosque imam to eight years and banned him from traveling outside for 10 years after serving his jail term. He was also prevented from delivering sermons for life. The court said in its verdict that the accused had shown disobedience to the country’s ruler, tried to seed sectarian dissension undermining the national unity and attacking renowned Muslim scholars. Both the defendant and the General Attorney objected to the ruling and have been asked to appeal within 30 days. He said the prison term would be counted from the day hewas arrested in 2011.

August:15:2014 - 09:03 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

Saudi and US media report that King Abdullah has donated $100 million to a new anti-terrorism center to be run out of the UN in New York.

I suppose that anything helps, but I’m not really convinced that this will result in anything useful. The UN has far too long a history of just talking about things and never coming to conclusions — never mind actions — because there are so many vested interests as well as proxy battles being fought out.

Saudi Gazette carries the statement issued by the government-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA)…

King Donates $100m for the Int’l Centre to Combat Terrorism

NEW YORK — The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud donated $ 100 million in support of the New York-based International Center to Combat Terrorism.

The check of the donation has been handed over to the UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, in New York today, by the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel bin Ahemd Al-Jubeir, in the presence of the Saudi Representative to the UN Abdullah bin Yahiya Al-Mualami.

Ban Kin Moon expressed gratitude of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Kingdom for this generous donation worth $ 100 million for the International Centre to Combat Terrorism.

In a joint press conference he held with the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Al-Jubeir and the Saudi Permanent Representative to the UN Al-Mouallimi, Ban said that he has met King Abdullah, last month, in Jeddah and he thanked him, personally, for leading this cause and so many others. The centre itself is a brainchild of the King, which has been suggested in 2005 and launched in 2011, he said. The UN-based centre is chaired by Al-Mouallimi.

August:14:2014 - 08:38 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

In a statement that may indicate that he is getting too old for the job, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh blames the spate of murders and destruction in the region on “foreign intelligence agencies.” No Muslim, he says in a widely reported Friday sermon, would kill other Muslims.

Assuming that the sheikh wasn’t napping for the past 30 years, his memory may be failing him. Muslim-on-Muslim violence has been violent, brutal, and widespread. While the current regime of terror may be put at the feet of extremist groups, state governments have engaged as well, and well beyond the prosecution of crimes.

Perhaps we should take the sheikh’s comments as aspirational rather than as a reflection on the facts. Muslims oughtn’t be killing other Muslims willy-nilly. Nor should they be killing non-Muslims. They do not now and have not in the past needed assistance or motivation from “foreign intelligence agencies”.

Grand Mufti: Killing of Muslims the work of foreign agencies
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh said the killings of innocent Muslims in some countries is the work of foreign intelligence agencies that seek to damage Islam.

He added that those who kill other Muslims do not represent Islam, because Islam is a religion of mercy and justice that embraces Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Al-Hayat daily reported.

During the Friday sermon at Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh, Al-Asheikh said it is forbidden for a Muslim to kill another Muslim as Islam emphasized the importance of respecting and preserving lives.

“Such teachings are the basis for a settled society, and if Muslims follow these teachings, they will live in complete harmony,” he said while referencing daily reports of gruesome criminal activities being committed by what he described as “evil persons and factions that are enemies of Islam.”

Al-Asheikh went on to say that Islam is innocent of such crimes, and every Muslim should denounce crimes that are committed against Muslims who pray and fast.

August:10:2014 - 07:57 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

There has been an unfortunate gap between Saudi policies and what some imams have been preaching over the years. Now, Arab News reports, the Saudi Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, will be vetting imams and muezzins, both in order to retain their jobs and for new hires as government employees. Through carelessness, the lack of oversight, and trust that has sometimes been misapplied, some imams have served as sources and vectors of extremism. This is going to stop.

Preachers to undergo security screening

Preachers and muezzins (those who call the faithful to prayer) will not be allowed to work until they undergo security screening, according to directives issued by the Interior Ministry.

Many government bodies will also participate in the new screening amid efforts to boost standards and quality among preachers at large mosques, where Friday prayers are held.

The Interior Ministry has notified the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Guidance and Call of the new decision, urging branch managers to abide by the new regulation.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs put forth several requirements when employing preachers.

August:04:2014 - 08:38 | Comments Off | Permalink

I note that I’ve been writing Crossroads Arabia for ten years now. I actually started in May, 2004, but by July had settled into this format and platform.

A lot has gone on over these ten years. A new King in Saudi Arabia, increased attacks on Saudi Arabia by Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda related groups as well as the effective Saudi counter-offensive. Reforms in social policies, in the legal system, and in lightening the hand that seeks to control women have all taken place. Saudi women have taken part in the international Olympics. New laws and regulations have been adopted that have bettered the working conditions of foreign workers while others have served to chase many of those workers out of the Kingdom to be replaced by Saudi workers.

Saudi Arabia remains a work in progress and I look forward to recording that progress over the coming years.

July:11:2014 - 08:23 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

As though the presence of ISIS in Iraq wasn’t enough to cause Saudi jitters, Saudi media are reporting attacks on the country’s southern border with Yemen. These attacks are assessed to be by Al-Qaeda and its surrogates.

Al Arabiya TV:

Al-Qaeda suspects blow themselves up in Saudi Arabia

Two suspected al-Qaeda militants blew themselves up early Saturday in southern Saudi Arabia after police surrounded them inside a government building.

Reports on casualties were not immediately available.

Saudi Arabia launched a massive crackdown on Al-Qaeda following a spate of deadly attacks in the kingdom from 2003-2006.

The incident comes a day after al-Qaeda linked militants attacked a border post near the border with Yemen. Al Arabiya News obtained on Friday exclusive pictures of the bodies of the gunmen who attacked the border post killing one Saudi border security officer and one Yemeni soldier.

Arab News:

3 attackers of Saudi border post killed
JEDDAH: MD Al-Sulami

A Saudi security officer and a Yemeni soldier have been killed in two separate attacks on border posts between the two countries, officials said.

The Interior Ministry said a border security patrol came under fire near the Wadia post in the southern province of Sharura, killing the unit’s chief.

Security forces gave chase, killing three of the attackers, while a fourth was wounded and captured, a ministry spokesman said.

July:05:2014 - 08:58 | Comments Off | Permalink

Asharq Alawsat reports that Saudi Arabia, in coordination with the GCC, is starting to impose financial sanctions on Hezbollah, the Shi’ite groups flagged by the Kingdom (and others) as a terrorist organization. The Saudis particularly dislike Hezbollah’s role in destabilizing Lebanon and its engagement in the Syrian civil war.

The Saudi government has promised greater investigation into the financial transactions of supporters of the group and is willing to withdraw business licenses, work permits, and residency visas as measures to reduce illicit funding.

Saudi Arabia launches financial sanctions on Hezbollah
Fahd Al-Ziyabi

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia this week implemented the first financial sanctions on Hezbollah’s commercial activities within the Kingdom, part of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) move to target the Lebanese militia’s interests abroad.

The Saudi Interior Ministry withdrew the business license of a Lebanese national with ties to Hezbollah, part of a larger campaign to crack down on the financial activities of the Lebanese militia in Saudi Arabia, a source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Interior Ministry will also beef up its security procedures surrounding the issuance of financial and commercial licenses, in a move targeting Hezbollah’s commercial and financial activities in the Kingdom, the source added.

This comes after the GCC agreed to designate the Lebanese militia a terrorist group in mid-2013 over its presence in Syria and assistance to the Assad regime. Speaking last year, GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani confirmed that the Gulf body would seek to target “individuals affiliated to Hezbollah, as well as its financial and commercial affairs.”

May:29:2014 - 06:10 | Comments Off | Permalink

A Reuters story carried by Al Arabiya TV reports that Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has joined the OIC and Al-Azhar University in condemning the actions of the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, for their kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria. The group, whose name translated to approximately “forbidding Western education”, seized the girls and has threatened to sell them as slaves and/or wives.

The condemnations all point out that this behavior is utterly un-Islamic and blackens the name of Islam and the faces of Muslims.

Saudi Grand Mufti condemns Boko Haram over girl kidnapping
Sami Aboudi | Reuters, Dubai

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the top religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has condemned Nigeria’s Boko Haram as a group “set up to smear the image of Islam” and condemned its kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said the radical movement, which says it wants to establish a “pure” Islamic state in Nigeria, was “misguided” and should be “shown their wrong path and be made to reject it.”

His remarks came as religious leaders in the Muslim world, who often do not comment on militant violence, joined in denouncing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau for saying Allah had told him to sell off the kidnapped girls as forced brides.

“This is a group that has been set up to smear the image of Islam and must be offered advice, shown their wrong path and be made to reject it,” he told the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat in an interview published on Friday.

“These groups are not on the right path because Islam is against kidnapping, killing and aggression,” he said. “Marrying kidnapped girls is not permitted.”

May:10:2014 - 08:22 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink
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