It is no secret that Gulf states have been in cahoots with extremist groups fighting in Syria, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere.
These groups have enjoyed support in countries across the world, but Kosovo among European countries per capita has the most people leaving to join the largest of the extremist groups Daesh (ISIS/ISIL).
Kosovo has 1.8 million people and out of those people 314 of them were identified by police as being Daesh members.
Blame for the rise of Daesh in Kosovo has been firmly laid at the door of the Gulf states. It was reported that local authorities and Imams have been promoting was is termed as “Political Islam,” having brought in many Salafi and Wahhabi texts in, and also having built new mosques throughout Kosovo, allegedly paid for with Saudi funding.
Political Islam is widely regarded as a gateway to radicalism/extremism. When Muslims are taken to one side and taught new ideas, and begin to be taught more rigid forms of prayer, and are given strict principles to observe, it primarily creates a divide between them and other Muslims who continue to practice their religion as they always have. This can lead to disputes forming between the different denominations of Islam, and also among families, as parents see their children led away from the religion they have peacefully practiced for generations, and witness huge changes in their behaviour. In Kosovo for example, girls rarely ever wore the hijab, less till the burka or niqab. Boys would happily go to prayer with their fathers and uncles, yet as time went on, girls began to refuse to shake hands or even talk to male family members, boys grew up with more radical ideas of Islam in their heads and often left for jihad, and the rift grew bigger, as the unrest between these different ideas of Islam grew further apart, spilling into civil unrest.
The trouble is, at this stage of radicalism, it rarely makes the news, in fact it isn’t really heard of outside the community at all. People only begin to pay attention when it affects communities outside of Islam. Perhaps if everyone paid more attention, extremism could be corrected at the earliest opportunity without the loss of life or huge money driven wars like those we have become accustomed to.
So how can the blame be placed at Saudi Arabia’s door? Well to start with, there’s the Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2015. These clearly showed a paper trail between mosques, Islamic centers, Muslim clerics that have often been trained in Saudi, and the Saudi Arabian Consulate. They have funded these places all over the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe, and possibly even the Americas.
According to information in the New York Times, a Kosovar preacher reached out for help with the teaching of Islam following the destabilisation of the region that occurred in the 90s. The call was answered by Saudi Arabia, who began sending people and money over to teach Wahhabism, the brand of Islam that the Saudis live and learn. Saudi Arabia is arguably one of the most radical/extremist countries in the world, but it is often forgiven because of their financial and social standing.
It is here that we begin to see a pattern emerge. The destabilisation of a region by US intervention, preceding a period of time where Muslims struggle to return to normality, preceding the rise of extremism, leading to segregation and mass civil unrest. In middle eastern regions, we often then see the warfare occur in the very region this arises, but I doubt this will be the case for those nations on the Balkan line. It seems more likely from what we have seen elsewhere, that extremism will be bred in unstable areas, with the intention of sending these radicals to Daesh/ISIS/ISIL.
At the risk of sounding like an atypical Western tabloid, I must also stress that there is a real risk of these extremists staying in more stable areas of Europe, with the possible intention of acting as a “sleeper cell,” waiting for orders to launch an attack when necessary. Maybe this is what we saw in the 7/7 bombings in London – a region that has NOT been destabilised, but still faces the problem of vulnerable young Muslims being taught extremist ideas and being led to jihad.
With fingers also being pointed at Saudi Arabia over the attacks of September 11th 2001, this all begs the question: Why is the world continually so tolerant of Saudi Arabia? If they truly are funding the process of Islamic Extremism and Terrorism, why are we not drawing more attention to them, and what could be done to stop it?