A welcome overview of Saudi involvement in spreading the message of violent jihad, from the Washington Post via MSNBC.com:
SAN DIEGO – Omar Abdi Mohamed, a lanky, soft-spoken political refugee from war-ruined Somalia in East Africa, had been preaching the word of Islam in the United States for the past nine years. Two things make him unusual.
In January, U.S. immigration authorities arrested him, saying they suspected him of being a conduit for terrorist funds, federal court records show. At the time, he was on the payroll of Saudi Arabia’s government.
Mohamed was one of 30 Saudi-financed preachers in this country. Each month, the Saudis paid $1,700 to the 44-year-old, who taught the Koran at a run-down Somali social center here. He worked with little supervision from Saudi religious authorities 8,000 miles away. In the late 1990s, he set up a small charity to help famine victims in Somalia, and that is how his trouble began.
The charity received $326,000 over three years from the Global Relief Foundation, a private Islamic charity based in Illinois. In October 2002, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Global Relief a terrorist-financing entity linked to al Qaeda.
The collision of Saudi missionary work and suspicions of terrorist financing in San Diego illustrates the perils and provocations of a multibillion-dollar effort by Saudi Arabia to spread its religion around the world. Mohamed worked on the front lines of that effort, a campaign to transform what outsiders call “Wahhabism,” once a marginal and puritanical brand of Islam with few followers outside the Arabian Peninsula, into the dominant doctrine in the Islamic world. The campaign has created a vast infrastructure of both government-supported and private charities that at times has been exploited by violent jihadists — among them Osama bin Laden.
And this campaign has been largely successful. But it should not be overstated. The Wahhabis have found success around the world not only because of money, but because they came with convincing, traditional exegeses of the Qur’an and Sunnah. And because their doctrines of jihad meshed nicely with the angular Shi’ism of Khomeini in Iran.