[Marxism] Daesh versus the Saudi state

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 1 07:33:10 MDT 2016

For all of the thousands of articles written about how Saudi Arabia 
created al-Qaeda and Daesh, there has never been the slightest 
acknowledgement of Osama bin-Laden’s fatwa against the Saudi monarchs 
for allowing Marines to be stationed there. Nor is there any 
understanding that bin-Laden as well as the September 11, 2001 hijackers 
identified as Saudi were actually Yemenites, a nationality that had huge 
grievances against the Saudis as explained in Akbar Ahmed’s “The Thistle 
and the Drone”. Despite the fact that they all are Wahhabis, it does not 
follow that they are part of a global conspiracy orchestrated out of the 
royal palace in Riyaddh in consultation with Langley. The only reason 
that there are so few jihadist attacks in Saudi Arabia is the country’s 
vice-like control of society through a vast security apparatus as well 
as the ability of oil revenues to placate the average Saudi. The article 
below illustrates that no matter the surface appearance, the jihadis 
would love nothing better than to destroy the monarchy.

NY Times, Apr. 1 2016
ISIS Turns Saudis Against the Kingdom, and Families Against Their Own

BURAIDA, Saudi Arabia — The men were not hardened militants. One was a 
pharmacist, another a heating and cooling technician. One was a high 
school student.

They were six cousins, all living in Saudi Arabia, all with the same 
secret. They had vowed allegiance to the Islamic State — and they 
planned to kill another cousin, a sergeant in the kingdom’s 
counterterrorism force.

And that is what they did. In February, the group abducted Sgt. Bader 
al-Rashidi, dragged him to the side of a road south of this central 
Saudi city, and shot and killed him. With video rolling, they condemned 
the royal family, saying it had forsaken Islam.

Then they fled into the desert. The video spread rapidly across the 
kingdom, shocking a nation struggling to contain a terrorist movement 
seen as especially dangerous not just because it promotes violence, but 
also because it has adopted elements of Saudi Arabia’s conservative 
version of Islam — a Sunni creed known as Wahhabism — and used them to 
delegitimize the monarchy.

“Wahhabism is fundamental to the Islamic State’s ideology,” said Cole 
Bunzel, a scholar of Wahhabi history at Princeton University and the 
author of a recent paper on Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State. “It 
informs the character of their religion and is the most on-display 
feature, in my opinion, of their entire ideology.”

Among 20 terrorist episodes in Saudi Arabia since late 2014, the killing 
of Sergeant Rashidi was the third in which citizens had secretly joined 
the Islamic State and killed relatives in the security services. In each 
case, they justified their acts by saying Saudi Arabia practiced a 
corrupted version of the faith, a charge aimed at a kingdom that holds 
itself up as the only true Islamic state.

The Islamic State, like Al Qaeda before it, accuses the Saudi monarchy 
of corrupting the faith in order to preserve its power. But Qaeda 
networks in the kingdom were dismantled years ago, and the group’s 
leadership abroad has discouraged killing Muslim civilians.

The Islamic State, however, has been able to infiltrate the kingdom 
through digital recruiting, and it has found devotees willing to kill 
fellow Sunnis, as well as Shiites, to destabilize the monarchy.

In July, a 19-year-old man murdered his uncle, a police colonel, before 
carrying out a suicide attack near a prison, wounding two guards.

In an audio message released by the Islamic State after his death, he 
addressed his own mother.

“Your apostate brother was a loyalist to the tyrants,” he said. “Were it 
not for him, the tyrants would not exist.”

Maj. Gen. Mansour Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, 
said that terrorist attacks over the past two years had killed scores of 
people, along with about two dozen militants.

In addition, about 3,000 Saudis have joined militant groups abroad, and 
more than 5,000 have been incarcerated at home on terrorism charges, a 
large increase in recent years.

Saudi Arabia has a tangled history with Islamic militant groups. For a 
long time, it backed them as proxy forces to push its agenda in places 
like Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan (where it worked with the United 
States). But that largely ended in 2003, when Al Qaeda turned its focus 
on the kingdom and staged a series of deadly attacks.

Now the Islamic State poses a new challenge, by turning aspects of Saudi 
Arabia’s conservative creed against it. Wahhabism has been molded over 
the years to serve the interests of the monarchy, emphasizing obedience 
to the rulers and condemning terrorist attacks, even against those seen 
as apostates.

Still, among the Islamic State’s many enemies, Saudi Arabia is the only 
one that considers the Quran and other religious texts its constitution, 
criminalizes apostasy and bans all forms of unsanctioned public religion.

The country was founded on an alliance between the Saud family, whose 
members became the monarchs, and a cleric named Sheikh Muhammad ibn 
Abdul-Wahhab, whose teachings were used to justify military conquest by 
labeling it jihad against those deemed to be infidels, most of whom were 
other Muslims.

Sheikh Abdul-Wahhab’s descendants still dominate the religious 
institutions of the Saudi state, which now play down the violence in the 
country’s history and emphasize aspects convenient to an all-powerful 
royal family, like the importance of obeying the leadership.

Saudi officials reject comparisons between their ideology and that of 
the Islamic State, noting that millions of non-Muslims live in the 
kingdom and that the government is closely allied with the United States 
and participates in the American campaign against the militant group.

They also say that Saudi Islam does not promote the caliphate, as does 
the Islamic State, and that senior clerics condemn the terrorist attacks 
and have branded the group “deviant.”

But critics argue that many Saudi clerics have never renounced the 
aspects of the Wahhabi tradition that the Islamic State has adopted, 
especially with regard to Shiites, who make up an estimated 10 percent 
of the kingdom’s 20 million citizens. Many Saudi clerics consider 
Shiites heretics and accuse them of loyalty to Saudi Arabia’s regional 
rival, Iran.

The jihadists have exploited this by repeatedly launching suicide 
attacks on Shiite mosques and then accusing Saudi clerics of hypocrisy 
for condemning the violence.

“It is clearly hard for Saudi clerics to condemn outright attacks on 
Shiites,” said Mr. Bunzel, the Princeton scholar. “And you get the 
feeling that they don’t care as much if the Shiites get attacked, since 
they’re not really Muslims in their view.”

As elsewhere in the world, the Islamic State has relied on social media 
to reach inside the kingdom, find recruits and dispatch them to attack, 
often under the noses of their closest relatives.

This has made plots hard to prevent, General Turki said, citing the 
example of a man arrested last year after killing two police officers in 
a drive-by shooting near Riyadh. One Islamic State supporter had given 
him the car, and another had provided the gun, but the attacker never 
learned their names.

Still, the group had struggled to target the security forces, so it told 
recruits to kill officers from their own families. General Turki 
summarized their message as, “You are closer, so no one will know you.”

In September, two men abducted their cousin, a soldier in the Saudi 
Army, and filmed a video of him bound and begging for mercy in the sand 
as they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and shot him dead. The 
security forces killed one of them and arrested the other.

Soon after came the abduction and murder of Sergeant Rashidi by the six 
cousins, following a process of radicalization that no one in their 
families noticed.

The ringleader, Wael al-Rashidi, who addressed the camera in the video, 
had a pharmacy degree and worked in a Riyadh hospital, two of Sergeant 
Rashidi’s brothers said in an interview. He had smoked cigarettes, a 
practice shunned by most devout Muslims, and spent hours “hacking” on 
his computer or playing war games on his Xbox.

One of his two brothers who joined the plot played the oud, also an act 
religious conservatives frown on.

Three other attackers were university students; two were brothers, and 
two were roommates, both studying Shariah at a state university in Riyadh.

About two years ago, Wael al-Rashidi became more religious and withdrew 
from family functions, but that did not raise alarms in a society where 
religious conservatism is common.

“We all saw that he was growing a beard and going to the mosque, but 
there are lots of people like that here, so we had no idea he was 
planning something else,” said Sergeant Rashidi’s foster brother, Mishari.

Even more puzzling was that Wael’s father was a retired officer in the 
domestic intelligence service, an agency charged with detecting jihadist 
threats, Sergeant Rashidi’s brothers said. The father of another of the 
attackers still works for the force.

“Maybe he didn’t know, or he was scared to report him or thought he 
would straighten out,” said one of Sergeant Rashidi’s brothers, Bandar. 
“Only he knows.”

While the attackers were not personally close to Sergeant Rashidi, they 
told him they had a gift from their mother for him to deliver. He met 
them, and they abducted and killed him a few hours later.

The family’s dread grew in the following days as relatives noticed that 
their sons were missing and had turned off their phones. Then the 
Islamic State released the video, confirming the family’s suspicions.

On March 11, Saudi security forces tracked the six men to a remote 
location and killed them all in a shootout, local news outlets reported.

Sergeant Rashidi’s brothers are glad the six are dead, but the episode 
has left them deeply suspicious.

“If anyone calls and says, ‘Where are you? I want to see you,’ you don’t 
trust him anymore,” Bandar said.

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