FBI Investigates Network of Wahhabi Islamic Communities for Links to Terrorism

October 2, 2003

Source: The Washington Post


On October 2, 2003 The Washington Post ran an article on the FBI's investigation of a network of mosques and Islamic schools connected with Wahhabism, "the rigid and puritanical strain of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. In recent months, authorities have begun to focus on the role of radical Wahhabi clerics and organizations...in exhorting followers to violence. Backed by money from Saudi Arabia, Wahhabis have built or taken over hundreds of mosques in North America and opened branches of Saudi universities here for the training of imams as part of the effort to spread their beliefs, which are intolerant of Christianity, Judaism and even other strains of Islam...What began as discrete investigations in Idaho, Michigan, New York and Northern Virginia has coalesced in recent months into a cluster of interrelated probes. Prosecutors and FBI agents are trying to determine whether links among the groups suggest a network whose purpose is to incite violent jihad, or holy war, and recruit people to fight it, according to sources familiar with aspects of the investigation... Salem Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group, said in an interview that 'if a person has recruited people to go commit violence against people abroad, he should be prosecuted.' But he said law enforcement authorities cannot trample on constitutionally protected religious freedoms. 'Groups should not be targeted for their beliefs, only for their activities if they are criminal,' Marayati said." The article goes on to describe the alleged connections between Wahhabism, terrorism and the Saudi Arabian government.