Saudi Cleric: Don't Leave KSA for Jihad

Surprising and positive. I like that it reaches merely beyond empty words (Islam does not support the murder of innocent civilians) to something much more concrete: Don't leave KSA for Jihad. Hat tip to Counterterrorism Blog:

Earlier this week, Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Al-Asheikh – the most senior Wahhabi cleric in Saudi Arabia -- released a rather surprising religious edict. In this fatwa, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia instructed Saudis not to leave the Kingdom to participate in jihad – a statement directed primarily at those considering going to Iraq. Al-Asheikh said that he decided to speak up, “after it was clear that over several years Saudis have been leaving for jihad” and that “our youth…became tools carrying out heinous acts.” Perhaps even most significantly, Al-Asheikh also addressed potential donors, urging them to “be careful about where [their money is] spent so it does not damage young Muslims.”

Al-Asheikh’s fatwa stands out for several reasons. First, it helps corroborate a number of statements made recently by US government officials about terrorists and terrorist financing emanating from the Kingdom.

• In a September 11, 2007 ABC News broadcast, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey remarked that “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country [for terrorism], it would be Saudi Arabia.” Levey also criticized the Saudis for failing to prosecute terrorist financiers, calling on the Saudis to treat the financing of terrorism as “real terrorism because it is.”

• In a July 2007 CNN interview, US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad expanded on an earlier op-ed he had written in The New York Times, by accusing the Saudis (and others) of “not only not helping” the situation in Iraq, but of “doing things that undermine the efforts to make progress.”

• In a June 2007 speech, Treasury Secretary Paulson cautioned that although the Saudis are "very effective at dealing with terrorists within the kingdom," the Saudis "need to do a better job holding people accountable who finance terrorism around the world."

The Grand Mufti’s statements were also notable for another reason. The Saudis are generally reluctant to concede either that Saudi Arabia is a source of terrorism or that Saudi counterterrorism efforts are inadequate. [...]

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