Sakset/Fra hofta

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Kong Abdullah og hans reisefølge på 600 skal ha blitt overrrasket over all kritikken da de besøkte Storbritannia. Saudierne har noen innlærte lekser om at de er på vei, men at hele samfunnet må være med på reformene, derfor går det så sakte. De blir fornærmet og overrasket når platthetene ikke slår an.

Fremdeles er Saudi-Arabia ekstremismens hjemland sier eksperter Sunday Times har snakket med. Men i Saudi er ekstremismen luften man puster inn. Herskerne er derfor overrasket når de kommer ut og møter en annen virkelighet. De tror deres samfunn er normalt.

Det er en merkelig dobbelhet med Saudi-Arabia: man kultiverer en ansvarlig utenrikspolitikk, og omverdenen vil gjerne bidra til dette inntrykket. Derfor trekker man ikke frem at 56 prosent av de utenlandske krigerne i Irak er saudi-arabere. Amerikanerne måtte isolere dem i Camp Cropper da de forsøkte å påtvinge resten av fangene sharia.

Rike saudiere finansierer fortsatt terror i utlandet. Så lenge terroren rammer utenfor landet, ser ikke myndighetene ut til å bry seg. Man har ikke reist rettssak mot en eneste en for finansiering av terror, til tross for klare bevis.

Lærebøkene preker fortsatt hat mot kristne og jøder. Sion vises protokoller inngår fortsatt i undervisningen.

Noe av det urovekkende er hatet som prekes i moskeene mot shiaer. Det bor som kjent shiaer i det oljerike området i nordøst.

De siste måneder har ledende religiøse ledere preket at shia-helligdommene i Najaf og Karbala skal ødelegges.

Back home the king is regarded as a modest reformer who has cracked down on home-grown terrorism and loosened a few relatively minor restrictions on his subjects’ personal freedom.

With oil prices surging, Saudi Arabia is growing in prosperity and embracing some modern trappings. Bibles and crucifixes are still banned, but internet access is spreading and there are plans for «Mile High Tower», the world’s tallest skyscraper, in Jeddah. As a key ally of the West, the king had every reason to expect a warm welcome.

Yet wealthy Saudis remain the chief financiers of worldwide terror networks. «If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,» said Stuart Levey, the US Treasury official in charge of tracking terror financing.

Extremist clerics provide a stream of recruits to some of the world’s nastiest trouble spots.

An analysis by NBC News suggested that the Saudis make up 55% of foreign fighters in Iraq. They are also among the most uncompromising and militant.

Half the foreign fighters held by the US at Camp Cropper near Baghdad are Saudis. They are kept in yellow jumpsuits in a separate, windowless compound after they attempted to impose sharia on the other detainees and preached an extreme form of Wahhabist Islam.

In recent months, Saudi religious scholars have caused consternation in Iraq and Iran by issuing fatwas calling for the destruction of the great Shi’ite shrines in Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, some of which have already been bombed. And while prominent members of the ruling al-Saud dynasty regularly express their abhorrence of terrorism, leading figures within the kingdom who advocate extremism are tolerated.

Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan, the chief justice, who oversees terrorist trials, was recorded on tape in a mosque in 2004, encouraging young men to fight in Iraq. «Entering Iraq has become risky now,» he cautioned. «It requires avoiding those evil satellites and those drone aircraft, which own every corner of the skies over Iraq. If someone knows that he is capable of entering Iraq in order to join the fight, and if his intention is to raise up the word of God, then he is free to do so.»

The Bush administration is split over how to deal with the Saudi threat, with the State Department warning against pressure that might lead the royal family to fall and be replaced by more dangerous extremists.

«The urban legend is that George Bush and Dick Cheney are close to the Saudis because of oil and their past ties with them, but they’re pretty disillusioned with them,» said Stephen Schwartz, of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism in Washington. «The problem is that the Saudis have been part of American policy for so long that it’s not easy to work out a solution.»

According to Levey, not one person identified by America or the United Nations as a terrorist financier has been prosecuted by Saudi authorities. A fortnight ago exasperated US Treasury officials named three Saudi citizens as terrorist financiers. «In order to deter other would-be donors, it is important to hold these terrorists publicly accountable,» Levey said.

All three had worked in the Philippines, where they are alleged to have helped to finance the Abu Sayyaf group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate. One, Muham-mad Sughayr, was said to be the main link between Abu Sayyaf and wealthy Gulf donors.

Sughayr was arrested in the Philippines in 2005 and swiftly deported to Saudi Arabia after pressure from the Saudi embassy in Manila. There is no evidence that he was prosecuted on his return home.

This year the Saudis arrested 10 people thought to be terrorist financiers, but the excitement faded when their defence lawyers claimed that they were political dissidents and human rights groups took up their cause.
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School textbooks still teach the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious antiSemitic forgery, and preach hatred towards Christians, Jews and other religions, including Shi’ite Muslims, who are considered heretics.

Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, said: «The Saudi education system has over 5m children using these books. If only one in 1,000 take these teachings to heart and seek to act on them violently, there will be 5,000 terrorists.»

USA tør ikke presse Saudi-Arabia av utenrikspolitiske grunner. De trenger Saudi-Arabias støtte overfor Iran, og har ikke ressurser til å legge seg ut med det som i mange henseende fortsatt er en alliert.

Saudi Arabia is hub of world terror
The desert kingdom supplies the cash and the killers