Issues & Insights

Wahhabi U.

Posted 11/10/2005

The War: A top U.S. diplomat recently revealed Saudi Arabia still teaches students to hate non-Muslims and the West. So why are we making it easier for Saudi students schooled in that hatred to visit the U.S.?

As if 9-11 never happened, President Bush has agreed to a request by Saudi King Abdullah to lower some of the barriers blocking Saudi youth from studying in America.

The barriers were erected as a security measure after 15 visiting Saudi nationals attacked their gracious host with hijacked jets. The young terrorists, holding various visas, studied at flight schools in the U.S. Post-9-11 visa curbs have resulted in a sharp drop in the number of Saudi travelers.

The Bush-Abdullah deal threatens to reverse that trend. The kingdom is sponsoring a program to expedite visas for Saudis to study in the U.S. by, among other things, providing funds and letters of recommendation. Its Ministry of Higher Education aims to send 21,000 nationals to the U.S. over the next four years.

We're supposed to believe this new crop of Saudi students will be less hostile to America, yet even the State Department's new counterterrorism chief isn't so sure.

He recently returned from a meeting with our alleged Saudi partners and testified that they've done little to reform their curriculum. Their textbooks still teach Saudi kids to hate Jews and Christians and still promote jihad against the West.

"They still have a long way to go," Henry Crumpton, a former senior CIA official, told the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation.

Welcoming another wave of Saudi students is supposed to forge better relations between our countries while promoting cultural exchanges. But when it comes to the Saudis, you get the sense the only culture they want exchanged is theirs namely, the violently anti-Western strain of Islam called Wahhabism.

Indeed, Crumpton says the Saudis also aren't doing enough to crack down on charities that spread Wahhabism to our shores, including some sympathetic to al-Qaida.

"They need to do more in this regard," he said. "This is something we have to discuss with the Saudis, and we need to engage them further." (A follow-up meeting is set for early December.)

What better way to spread their hate than to export thousands of young Islamist zealots to the U.S., who, even if they don't carry out 9-11-scale attacks, could riot like the young French Muslims who have been torching Paris?

And they seem to have the benefit of open checkbooks. The Saudi government is picking up half their college tabs, while Saudi businessmen are funding the rest through "scholarships."

Will these businessmen be vetted to see if they are the same ones who have given money to Osama bin Laden? Don't bet on it. Crumpton confirms Riyadh still hasn't set up a commission to regulate charities and track their giving as promised.

It's not just the charities that are guilty of spreading the seeds of Wahhabi hate.

The Saudi government itself runs several groups that indoctrinate youths into jihad. They include the Muslim World League and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. In pamphlets, they teach youths to not be "miserly with your blood" in fighting the infidels during jihad, and laud suicide bombers as "heroes."

The FBI has raided the U.S. offices of both groups, although they're still open for business, thanks to political pressure, and still converting students on campuses such as Howard University to Islam. The groups invite the students on pilgrimages to Mecca as all-expenses-paid guests of the Saudi government.

For that matter, the Ministry of Higher Education the same Saudi agency sponsoring the new wave of Saudi students to hit American shores runs an institute in Washington that is under investigation for its ties to terror suspects and propagation of jihadist materials.

Federal agents just last year raided the offices of the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, which was chaired by former Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar.

Until we have verifiable proof of Saudi reform, why would we want to reopen the door to students from that country? We only risk inviting another attack.