Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


European Parliament identifies Wahabi and Salafi roots of global terrorism

Updated Jul 22, 2013 01:24pm


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

It is not merely the faith or oil that flows out of Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab state and its neighbours are busy financing Wahabi and Salafi militants across the globe.

A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the "support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world." The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament's Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that "no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations ... as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters."

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia in the East, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Salafi and Wahabi traditions. The same networks have been equally destructive as they branch out of Muslim countries and attack targets in Europe and North America.

Despite the overt threats emerging from the oil-rich Arab states, governments across the globe continue to ignore the security imperative and instead are busy exploiting the oil-, and at time times, blood-soaked riches.

The European Parliament's report though is a rare exception to the rule where in the past the western governments have let the oil executives influence their foreign offices. From the United States to Great Britain, western states have gone to great lengths to ignore the Arab charities financing the radical groups, some of whom have even targeted the West with deadly consequences.

While the recent report by the European Parliament documents the financial details connecting the Arab charities with extremists elsewhere, it is certainly not the first exposition of its kind. A 2006 report by the US Department of State titled, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report - Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, reported that “Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years.” One of the WikiLeaks documents, a cable from the US Consulate in Lahore also stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

The European Parliament’s report estimates that Saudi Arabia alone has spent over $10 billion to promote Wahabism through Saudi charitable foundations. The tiny, but very rich, state of Qatar is the new entrant to the game supporting militant franchises from Libya to Syria.

The linkage between Saudi-based charitable organisations and militants began in the late 70s in Pakistan. A network of charitable organisations was setup in Pakistan to provide the front for channeling billions of dollars to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Since then the militant networks have spread globally, emerging as a major threat to international security. Charlie Wilson’s War, a book by George Crile that was made into a movie, details the Saudi-militancy nexus as well as Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban.

While ordinary citizens in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries have suffered the deadly consequences of militancy supported by the Wahabi and Salafi charitable organisations, the Saudi government had remained largely dormant. This changed in 2003 when militants attacked targets in Riyadh. Since then, the Saudi government has kept a close watch on the domestic affairs of charities, making it illegal to sponsor militancy, but the government has done precious little to curtail activities by Saudi charities abroad. In fact, evidence, as per the European Parliament’s report, suggests that Saudi and Qatar-based charities have been actively financing militants in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Mali, and Indonesia.

Pakistan has suffered tremendously over the past three decades from domestic and foreign inspired militancy. The Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and the US-backed Afghan militancy forced Pakistan into a civil war that has continued to date. The faltering Pakistani economy did not help. Successive governments have rushed to Saudi monarchs asking for loans and free oil in times of need. However, Saudi money comes bundled with Saudi propaganda and a license to convert Pakistanis to a more 'puritan', read Wahabi, version of Islam.

In late the 70s, Iranians also intensified their influence in Pakistan. While hardline Sunnis were being radicalised by the Wahabi influences from Saudi Arabia, Iranian influence on Pakistani Shias was also increasing. And whereas Pakistan did not need any further radicalization of its people, the Saudi-Iranian tussle spilled into the streets of Pakistan with devastating consequences for religious minorities and liberal streams of Sunni Islam.

At the same time, the economic collapse in Pakistan forced many to find jobs abroad. Millions of Pakistanis left for the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. While the remittances kept their families and the Pakistani government afloat, the migrant workers returned to Pakistan after being radicalised during their stay in Saudi. They became the brand ambassadors for the Saudi-inspired Wahabi flavours of Islam, thus expediting the pace of radicalisation in Pakistan.

Pakistan was equally vulnerable to foreign influences after the devastating earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010 and 2011. The European Parliament’s report revealed that these disasters provided Saudi and other Arab charities to channel millions of dollars in aid, of which an unknown amount was used to fund militant organisations who have broadened their reach in Pakistan resulting in over 45,000 violent deaths in the past few years alone.

Pakistanis have a very strong spiritual link with Saudi Arabia. However, they are suffering for the unbound devotion to the oil-rich state, which has done a poor job of curbing the financial support for militancy in Pakistan. Seeing the plight of violence stricken Pakistanis, one hopes that Saudi charities could be more charitable.


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

Author Image

Murtaza Haider is a Toronto-based academic and the director of

He tweets @regionomics

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (60) Closed

Shakil Jul 22, 2013 02:20pm

This is the issue that hurting Pakistan and Islamic world for so long. Saudi, Qatari or Irani influence and support is not limited to economy or finances, they have become neo cons of Islamic world. While pretending to help Islamic world they are poisoning them! Its enough and Pakistan should put a strong curb on this side of terrorism along with others. On one side they tow and sponsor western agenda inside Pakistan and other countries and help create fake "arab Springs" , or install "democratic" governments! The people of these countries are looser and pay ultimate price with blood on streets.

These crimes go un noticed by western powers as long as they help them and fit in their agendas.

Muhammad Jul 22, 2013 02:24pm

I am too confused in so many so called versions of Islam. when our Allah is one our prophet is one i.e Muhammad SAWW then why the hell we are following so many versions of Islam. why the saudi version of Islam is only accepted by Sunni Deobandi's & ahle Hadees in Pakistan and how could Sunni Barelvis are not influenced from it. Leaving Ahle Tashee aside as they are not influenced from the saudi version rather an Iranian version. I just read the urdu translation of an english book written by a british Spy Mr. Hamphrey and if I assume it right, I literally feel ashamed on the whole muslim community. How easily we have been a victim of a foreign conspiracy. We should not blame to any other for the ignorance and stupidity of our own. May Allah give the courage to all muslims to accept mistakes and blessed us with the strength of unity with true faith.

Alee Abbasi Jul 22, 2013 03:00pm

Indeed the writer has identified the core roots of militancy in Pakistan and the Islamic world.

Kashif ` Jul 22, 2013 03:06pm

Well written article but obviously with some flaws. Writer/ or European commission has confused Wahabis with Deobandi, as deobandi are very peaceful & does not get into the sectarian conflicts as Wahabis. Secondly, Not only Arabs have supported Wahabism in Pakistan, Iran also played their part in Pakistan where we have more than 10 Khana-e-Farhang of Iran (enjoying High commission status) and publishing literature to promote Shia-esm. And as a result more sectarian conflicts & militant groups formed. About European commission, they failed to mention that West & US are all funding the same Wahabi group in Syria to fight against Asad's regime. They do what suits them & turn their faces and Muslim world has to face the consequences as a result.

p r sharma Jul 22, 2013 03:09pm

strange , no comments so far. NO body commented that these reports are the conspiracy of west, CIA ,RAW ,MOSSAD to malign Islam & KSA

samar Ali Jul 22, 2013 03:11pm

Wake up government and law enforcement Agencies..........Pakistan is your motherland dont sell it.

Faryal Jul 22, 2013 03:24pm

A clip of Hillary Clinton was seen few days back on a popular social media about her confession over the support of Wahabism back in 1980s for destabilizing soviet union. Now if we people as Pakistani Muslims still keep our eyes close over the saudi version of Islam then we ourselves will be responsible for this devastation.

Syed Hussain Akbari Jul 22, 2013 03:57pm

A very valuable article. The activities of Salafi / Wahabi Arabs were founded already in the very early stage of Muslim history. With the time it took different shapes like Bani Ummayas, Salafis, Wahabis and Deobandis etc.Their principles (which in fact were no principles as Negatives are no principles) were based on hatred, They hated and hate even today every one who doe not accept their principles to be only the right one. They hate the followers of Holy Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.) family and also those who have preached the teachings of Ahle Bayat as so many Sufis and many Sunni/ Shia philosophers and poets have done.

Jaffar Jul 22, 2013 04:24pm

The cancer of Wahabism and Salafism is already known to the world. Indeed most killings in the muslim world is due to these two scourges.

Agha Ata Jul 22, 2013 05:13pm

Why is this article appearing again and again? Do the publishers think that the European Parliament's view is correct?

SALMAN AZIZ Jul 22, 2013 05:21pm

This is not a surprise. The sad part is that the Western world has turned a blind eye. Most Muslim countries leadership has to blame for the exploitation of its people They are corrupt and inapt. It seems it will take a revolution in each of these countries similar to that of Iran to change the course.
Some how people have to take a stand and get rid of the current corrupt governments and install people who will work for them.

SAN Rizvi Jul 22, 2013 05:22pm

It is very sad that after knowing everything, west still supporting same mindset and dictatorships.

satyendra Jul 22, 2013 05:26pm

This needs to be stopped at any cost.First they want to eliminate other religions, they wont stop there! Then they want to eliminate Shias and other sects in Islam and then within whatever is left they want their brand of Islam !!!! If they have to achieve this they may have to kill 3/4 th of the world population!!! How stupid is that?.. What good is if all the people in world follow the same and have same belief systems... Our creator knows the best.... and religion is a personal!!! Peace for all!!

Dr Bilal Yasin Jul 22, 2013 05:33pm

This blog and the European Parliament report clears ones mind that where the funds and the militant mind set is coming from.

Anoop Jul 22, 2013 05:59pm

That is where they are wrong.

The violence of Political Islam has been around since a long time, than is considered here. In 1946, Muslim League called for Direct Action, a call for action against, well, who else, the Hindus of Culcutta, to show them what would happen if there was no Pakistan.

This was done in the name of Islam. Its nice to categorise it as only one strain of Islam, but there was no Wahabism in India at that time.

SK Jul 22, 2013 06:27pm

Bravo for this brave article.

Muhammad Ahmed Mufti Jul 22, 2013 06:38pm

And iran is sending out peace missions to Syria. Author needs to come out of narrow Shia mentality

Faisal Naeem Jul 22, 2013 06:38pm

was it not the euros who propped the wahhabis up in their fight against the ottomans. so they should do some introspection. btw: they have a problem with wahhabis today ( I am not condoning acts against civilians), but have had problems with sufis in Libya/Ethiopia etc. Anyone or thing that goes against the hegemonic designs of caucasians, is the root of all evil.

khalid Jul 23, 2013 01:39pm

@Agha Ata: this view is correst but i m sure until now u r ignorant about your problems

khalid Jul 23, 2013 01:42pm

@p r sharma: u r still sleeping or fooling urself

M. Saeed Awan Jul 23, 2013 02:49pm

These Wahabis and Salafis have tornished the image of Makkah and Madina too, where ancient and holy sites are replacing tall building turning into New York. Saudi Arabia and Iran are root cause of damaging peace in Pakistan. Only Sufi.ism is acceptable here.

Shafiq Khan Jul 23, 2013 03:39pm

@Anoop: You are only saying that all religions are guilty of ungodly acts. Look at your persuasion people . Are they really free of cruelty and acts of violence against other religious people? All religions are guilty of violence against the weak and the minority. Saudi Arabia only became the flavour of the month because of their oil, not their religion. They have nearly ruined Pakistan and Afghanistan. The power that be in Pakistan are under obligation to grant concessions of all kinds. I hope they find a long spoon to sup with the Saudi Arabia government. They are a bad news for Pakistan. Look at all the textbooks in Pakistan, no worth the paper they are written on. Shafiq

Syed Jul 23, 2013 05:08pm

@Alee Abbasi: Pakistan Government need to wake up and control these Madrasa where they are imparting the basic of Wahabism and Salafism. The government should keep his eyes open in dealing with Saudi and Kuwaiti as they are the one who is giving all financial aid these these islamic schools.

h. bilal Jul 23, 2013 06:28pm

hw to cope wth these people yar ; find solution

rizwan Jul 23, 2013 06:32pm

wahabi and salafi are true muslims therefore the non muslim are trying to finish these groups of islam and those are not muslims who r against it.and jihad are doing because this is our way of life.

Purgatory Jul 23, 2013 09:45pm

@Muhammad Ahmed Mufti: "narrow Shia mentality" ...? it's people like you who are the reason Pakistan isn't moving forward fast enough.

sh Jul 23, 2013 11:45pm

What I have to say may sound like I may be biased. I am not. Neither to the Muslims nor to the Europeans. However, everyone responding here sounds like they are buying or have already bought this European report as accurate and pure. Have they researched in details as to who were the individuals who worked on this report? Were they biased in any way even the slightest bit? Were any of them Muslims themselves or were they all non-Muslims? Were these individuals honest or dishonest in their compilation of the end results of the report? And who in the world gave them the authority to do such a report and deem it as the basis of information for the rest of the world? Why is it that they did not do such a report for non-Muslim groups or non-Muslim countries who are involved directly or indirectly in the world-wide terrorism? There are many questions such as these that should be first and foremost looked into before readily assuming that this report has credibility. Maybe it does and maybe it does not. How can anyone simply assume it to be credible? Ask this question to yourself and you will need to spend plenty of time before commenting here as if these questions have already been answered. C'mon folks, whether you are a Muslim or not, lets be

taher Jul 23, 2013 11:57pm

In my opinion, its west negative propaganda to somehow or the other damage Islam mostly by creating these kinds of so called reports and articles. in general Islam is the biggest threat to all non-Muslims and they are working together against Islam. We Muslims should understand it clearly and should not get divided by these kind of reports...

Nini Jul 24, 2013 12:07am

@Kashif `: The Last time I check , I did not see Iran or shia's blowing themselves up although they are in minority in Pakistan!

Noor Muhamamd Jul 24, 2013 12:38am

Who is the real terrorist? Militants or NATO forces. 25 European countries are part of the NATO. Both militants and NATO are killing people. Both are bombing innocents. 110,600 Iraqis have been killed since the start of war up to April 2009 in Iraq. More than 34,000 people have been died since 2001 due to bombings & killings in Pakistan. Similarly thousands innocents have been killed in Afghanistan by NATO forces.

Who is funding NATO? All the European countries themselves are terrorist as part of NATO forces because they killed thousands innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Isn't it?

First define the word terrorist purely being an human and being an unbiased person. Then write the article and blame some one.

Grow up man .. Grow up. Don't be foolish by one sided information. Research, think and then write

Ahmed Jul 24, 2013 01:47am

A totally pro shia story

Saif Jul 24, 2013 04:53am

@Syed Hussain Akbari: Sir, please get ur facts straight.

Mustafa Jul 24, 2013 05:23am

European racism is the main mechanism of the spread of Wahabi roots. European racist and Wahabis fight against each other only in the absence of a third party, but time and again we have seen that they have joined hands against any third party as in Libya and Syria.

Very simply, the Wahabi dogma subscribes to a prioritized list of enemies in which the West is in the fifth place behind Shias, Russia, China and India. Likewise the European racists also have an enemy priority, which has a great deal of overlap with the Wahabi list; Shias, China and Russia.

Sheena Jul 24, 2013 10:55am

I also read the book of "Hamphrey" as pointed out by Mr. Muhammad, easily available on internet and trully it is an eye opener. I must recommend everyone specially Muslims anywhere in the world to read that book. Besides having Shia-Sunni differences We have been living with each other and tolerating differences since the beginning of Islam. Our historty is full of such differences but what destroying us is the policy of "divide and rule". If we want to become a super nation not only by words of mouth but in practical then we need to tolerate our differences and follow basic teachings of Islam that is humanity, ethics, tolerance, education. We think and just think but West has adopted and are practising. We have Quran to recite and they have Quran to act & act as a nation. I do not have any doubt in mind to say that if the success only lies in performing Namaz, roza, zakat and Hajj then we would be the supernation of this world but unfortunately we are not, just because we ignored the lessons that Namaz, Roza, Zakat, Hajj are teaching us, we ignored the lesson of humanity,ethics and social welfare taught by our beloved prophet saww and adopted corruption, intolerance and every opposite of Prophet's preachings. Bitter truth is that we are Muslims only by name not by our actions. In my view, people like Mr. Abdus Sattar Edhi are much better Muslim than most of us, our so called Mullas, political leaders and last but not least our most favourites, Talibans

Anoop Jul 24, 2013 11:15am

@Shafiq Khan:

You didn't get my point. The Politically Correct thing to say 10 years ago was that Islam is not the problem, now they are saying only some strains of Islam are the problem.

They revised that theory because it clearly showed they were not getting the required results and were unable to understand why in places influences of Political Islam was absent the Terrorists are sprouting.

I am just offering an alternative theory in pointing out that India too experienced the wonders of Political Islam, when Wahhabism could not be attributed to the causality.

Its only natural that you tend to revise your theories after testing them.

H Godil Jul 24, 2013 12:07pm

@rizwan: oh come on! when is bull dozing the graves a good idea?

AAA Jul 24, 2013 01:49pm

@Syed: Itotally agree with you.

AAA Jul 24, 2013 01:51pm

@Shafiq Khan: Yes, I agree

AAA Jul 24, 2013 01:56pm

@M. Saeed Awan: In Iran the belivers of any sect. are living peace fully. Iran does not inter fear in any other country's affairs.

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:21pm

@SAN Rizvi: Yes Rizvi I agree with you, but days are for off when they themselves will elemnate these kingdoms INSHAALLAH

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:24pm

@SALMAN AZIZ: Aziz one day this is bound to happen INSHAALLAH AMIN

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:30pm

@Agha Ata: Yes European Parliaments report is compiled after reacerh and is 100% correct.

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:31pm

@Jaffar: Yes it is true.

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:34pm

@Syed Hussain Akbari: Syed Hussain Akbari you have placed the true picture of wahabis & salafis.

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:35pm

@Faryal: Yes I 100% agree with you

AAA Jul 24, 2013 02:40pm

@p r sharma: r sharma you are ignorant of Isiam History. Other wise you should have known what harm these wahabis & salafis done to Islam. Please read some History book of Islam

GhostRider Jul 24, 2013 02:51pm

@Ahmed: bitter truth my friend...whatever doesnt conform to your ideas cannot be branded as biased

muhammad Jul 24, 2013 03:06pm

All terrorist organisations belongs to wahabi, salafi or Deobandi sect all suicide bombers / extremists belong to these sects I would request the leaders of these sect that they should look into the teaching of their sects there must be something very seriously wrong which is not compatible with true Islam and even universal human standards

Jaffar Ak Jul 24, 2013 03:21pm

@Noor Muhamamd: But what has all that to justify Wahabis / Salafis killing Shias and other minorities and destroying their religious / historic sites and even the treasure of books as they did in Timbuktu

dr vimal raina Jul 24, 2013 07:04pm

If the funding stops, Sufism will be back. Sab 'fakir' ho jayengey. That will be the best thing that happened to this fragile world.

mhr Jul 24, 2013 09:31pm

@Muhammad: sir, it's indeed very shameful that you refer to books on islamic history authored by non-muslim "spies'! i never knew any hindu, or christian or jew gathering their religious facts and history from a muslim author's book, provided that the muslim was not a turncoat to the non-muslim cause of damaging the interests of muslims. If you really want to get a correct edition of history, you sinply need to read through literature written by a genuine muslim historian. read through Ibn Kathir works, consult good historiographers. do not rely on and quote biased and spurious recounts and details.

Haider Jul 24, 2013 09:54pm

@Mustafa: Very true, Europeans and Wahabis will join hands against any third party, starting 100 years ago when they attacked and dismantled Ottoman Islamic Empire...remember Lawrence of Arabia?

Saf Jul 24, 2013 10:58pm

Its unfortunate that I still can't get the comments that usually get posted at Express Tribune, here at Dawn, even when its accurately portraying Canada's stance and statements of security and intelligence backed up with links to reputed newspapers. You may have these hard-hitting articles, but when it comes to the moderation which calls for some open introspection on radicalization, the same old self censorship taboo of our privileged majority sect seems to kick in.

fatimah Jul 24, 2013 11:52pm

Making a Comparison between saudia and iran is extremely unfair. Being a shia i know well that it is iran which attempted to banish the culture of insulting ummahatul momineen and Sahabas. It's iran's influence that our majalis are now more based on philosophy of religion rather then being "manazrana". If u want to have a proof of what i've mentioned u can just download the majalis of some iran influenced scholar Vs the local one. Iran's sponsored version of shia islam is more based on ethics, harmony, self accountability and spiritual upbringing rather then issuing ftawas on physionomies. If the great ulemas iranian or non iranian would not have come forward to educate public regarding the basis of our faith, any superfacial slogan can have taken over shia faith as sunni faith has been largely taken over by wahabi propaganda under the banner of "Tawheed(oneness of God)". Everyone has experienced that in Saudia they have kept Male and female sergeants in Masjid e Nabwi who will shout at u "Shirk Shirk" on attempting to kiss the prophet's grave, or if u seen reciting Naat. so when we are branded as "Mushrik" for minor reasons we are tagged for death by these retailers of death. Please be fair and truthful

naveed Jul 25, 2013 03:26am

it is belived in world politics that "not your friend nor your enemy is perminent only your national interests are superior". the time when pakistani state and all the EU countries wanted to safeguard there (Personal) interests in afghanistan and in other asian countries they promoted these mind sets in particular regions.

and now when they are done with it, same states are declaring these Taliban as a threat to their regions.meanwhile they are promoting the same (Terrorists) in Syria . so its just a matter of there Interests. All the States are just safeguarding there interests and regions..

sajid khan Jul 25, 2013 03:26am

dear readers, i feel very strange that in this paper all the shia apriciats all the time only iran .every time shia influenced condemned only there opponent never ever i saw any of you write any thing against shia terror you should be fair in both cases , both sides are terrorizing each other where ever it is possible.

Ubaid Jul 25, 2013 05:21am

The most ironical part is we finger point eachother but never try to look inside ourselves and rectify every wrong doing we are being part of. Honestly, if we drag everyone in this battlefield then half of the population will be charged with criminal wrongdoings and rest for the moral wrongdoings and very few will be set free.

We are living in real world so whatever we are facing is just because of our own laziness to keep check on ourselves before going on any further.

P.S who we are to tell other person you're right or you're wrong, are we religious clerics? or have sound religious knowledge? But,everyone thinks/believes he/she knows Islam/Religion better than the rest. Sad!!!

Nazim Jul 25, 2013 12:11pm

@Kashif `: Perfect example of grapes are sour.Lets focus on whats the blogger says rather then cooking a different story and deviate from the one which needs discussion and support.

muhammad Jul 25, 2013 01:23pm

@Syed Hussain Akbari: If you read the history you will find that Bani Umayyah very reluctantly accepted the Islam after the fall of Makkah they had no choice except to hide themselves in the folds of Muslims however they left no chance to harm the Islam and Muslims they ingrained the seeds of hatred among the Muslims by revolting against Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Hassan and then by killing Hazrat Hussain along with a number of his family members in Karbala and Salafis / wahhabis are the followers of Bani Umayyah they also hate Prophet (PBUH) his family and his close companions and their followers

muhammad Jul 25, 2013 02:42pm

@taher: Mr. Taher the so-called Islam of your Jihadis have become real threat for Muslims around the world they have killed more Muslims of opposing sects than the non-muslims