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It's Still the Saudis

From the July 9, 2005 New York Post: Great Britain will have to get tougher with Saudi Arabia.

12:00 AM, Jul 12, 2005 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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A GROUP calling itself "the Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe" has claimed "credit" for Thursday's deadly bombings in London. Some refer to the perpetrators of this latest horror as "an unknown group." But there is nothing mysterious about the background of the London atrocities.

First, and foremost, there is nothing secret, unknown, or hidden about the prime source of financing for the terrorists: Saudi Arabia.

As the leading Saudi human-rights activist, Ali al-Ahmed, of the Washington-based Saudi Institute, puts it, "all the roads lead to Riyadh."

The Saudi kingdom continues to channel money and recruits to terror operations in Iraq and everywhere else that al Qaeda, its allies, its imitators, and other supporters strike. Saudi clerics, devotees of the cult known to its critics as Wahhabism, continue to preach jihad against the world, targeting non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as non-Muslims.

Our own country has taken significant steps to curb the Saudi dedication to Wahhabi terrorism, but a great deal more remains to be done.

When she visited the desert kingdom not long ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice correctly protested against the repression imposed on democratic dissidents in that country. But she drew back from calling directly for major changes in Saudi Arabia, such as purging the educational system and state-run media of extremism and cutting off the Wahhabi clerics from state funding.

Paradoxically, Britain, although gallantly committed to the war against terrorism in Iraq, has fallen short of the United States in its investigative and judicial response to Islamist terrorism. The existence of a larger and more openly radical "Wahhabi lobby" in British Islam has led London to greater caution rather than vigilance and severity in dealing with the enemy. Not only is there no British Guantanamo, the Blair government actually intervened to get our military to release five of nine British subjects from the camp in Cuba.

Yet Britain has much greater problems with radical Islam inside its borders than the United States has. Only two weeks ago, British newspapers reported that dozens of Muslims from the United Kingdom had gone to Iraq to participate in the terrorist campaign there. (By the way, the majority of the murderers whose ranks they joined are Saudis.)

The bulk of British Muslims are Pakistanis and Arabs. While many members of both ethnic groups are peaceful, loyal residents of the country, their mosques have long been dominated by Saudi-funded radical rhetoric--and open recruiting for jihad and paramilitary activities. Although it is seldom noted in Western media, Pakistan remains the No. 1 frontline state after Iraq, in terms of bloodshed between Wahhabi-inspired extremists and other Muslims.

There is no puzzle in the dissimulation practiced by most European governments about Islamist extremism: Europe has a history of preferring peace to freedom.

Most European leaders--Britain's Tony Blair being the outstanding exception--would rather arrive at an accommodation with the terrorists than defend the freedoms under attack by violent fanatics. In this, they follow the pattern set during the 1930s, when Europeans preferred peace with and submission to Nazism in place of early and consequential resistance.

A devotion to peace over freedom is also reflected in the common cliché, heard on our shores as well as abroad, that fighting terrorism in Iraq simply breeds more terrorists. Well, opposition to Hitler led the Nazis to recruit more countries and peoples to their cause but only in the short term. Major conflicts always produce serious opposition; that is why they are called wars and not misunderstandings.

Nazism and Japanese imperialism vanished as threats once they were significantly defeated; fighting them did not strengthen them, once the real battle was joined. But inflicting an authentic defeat on the terrorist enemy means carrying the struggle to its heartland in the Middle East.

The answer to the crime of London will come in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries where Islamist extremism perverts the Muslim mind, and it will come through force no less than reason. There is no other path.

Stephen Schwartz is a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard.