Monday, January 02, 2006

Saudis have radicalized 80% of US mosques

Mainstream US Muslim organizations are heavily influenced by Saudi-funded extremists, according to Yehudit Barsky, an expert on terrorism at the American Jewish Committee.
Worse still, Barsky told The Jerusalem Post last week, these "extremist organizations continue to claim the mantle of leadership" over American Islam. The power of the extremist Wahhabi form of Islam in the United States was created with generous Saudi financing of American Muslim communities over the past few decades. Over 80 percent of the mosques in the United States "have been radicalized by Saudi money and influence," Barsky said.
Before the 1970s, she explained, "Muslim immigrants who came to the United States would build a store-front mosque somewhere. Then, since the 1970s, the Saudis have been approaching these mosques and telling them it wasn't proper for the glory of Islam to build such small mosques." For many Muslims, it seemed the Saudis were offering a free mosque. However, Barsky believes for each mosque they invested in, the Saudis sent along their own imam (teacher-cleric)… Barsky, who heads the AJC's Division on Middle East and International Terrorism and is the executive editor of Counterterrorism Watch, said this means that "the people now in control of teaching religion [to American Muslims] are extremists. Who teaches the mainstream moderate non-Saudi Islam that people used to have? It's in the homes, but there's no infrastructure. Eighty percent of the infrastructure is controlled by these extremists." The same is true, Barsky said, of many of the mainstream Muslim organizations in America. Many of them are "pro-Saudi and pro-Muslim Brotherhood organizations."
As examples, she listed three important groups: the Islamic Society of North America, which "supports the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi regime;" the Islamic Circle of North America, which "is composed of members of Jamaat e-Islami, a Pakistani Islamic radical organization similar to the Muslim Brotherhood that helped to establish the Taliban;" and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), "founded in the 1980s by pro-Hamas activists." The problem is most acute when it comes to interfaith relations. When advising colleagues on interfaith work with their Muslim counterparts, Barsky tells them "to proceed with caution, [since] some of the [extremist] organizations have concluded that interfaith dialogue is a good way to spread the ideology."

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