Abdulaziz Saud

THE IKHWAN (al-Mutawa'a)

In the early 1900's, during his wars against al-Rasheeds and other tribes in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz supported and armed a religiously zealous group of bedouins that called themselves the "Ikhwan" or CAVES (Committee for the Advancement of Virtue and Elimination of Sin). These bedouins were Wahabbis and adhered to the very strict Islamic rules of that sect. They fought alongside Abdul Aziz with a vengeance and a savagery that struck fear in the heart of their enemy. According to historian Said K. Aburish's book, The House of Saud, "The [Ikhwan] were fanatics of the Wahabbi sect to which Ibn Saud [Abdul Aziz] belonged, who were to provide the backbone of his conquering forces and whose savagery wreaked havoc across Arabia." The Ikhwan, he continues, were responsible for the death of more than 400,000 people between 1900 and 1930--10% of the total indigenous population at that time. The Ikhwan were the mainstay of Islamic extremism and fundamentalism for they rejected everything that was western. In fact for the last 50 years, the group which now calls itself al-Mutawa'a has opposed the introduction of radio, television, shopping malls, supermarkets and anything imported. They practice their own brand of Islam; a brand the Koran does not condone.

Today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, their "Islam" controls the daily lives of Saudi Arabians. They restrict women from appearing in public without a veil. They flog people in public for not adhering to a strict code of behavior which has never been defined. They flog a man for simply talking to a woman on the street. They force non-Muslims to go to mosques during prayer time; they terrorize many westerners who visit Saudi Arabia. They force themselves into your house if they hear music, and they do not allow hotels to have a piano playing in their lobby because it is against al-Mutawa'a belief. They carry sticks which they use often to terrify both Saudis and foreigners.

Al-Mutawa'a plays the same role the Ikhwan played for Abdul Aziz when he was king. They keep the citizens of Saudi Arabia fearful so al-Saud can appropriate the country's resources while the people worry about a sideshow called al-Mutawa'a. Al-Mutawa'a are financed and supported by the House of Saud today as part of domestic policy. They are the "Spanish Inquisition" of Saudi Arabia--religious zealots trying to force their understanding of religion on people and countries.

During the Fahd era, several fundamentalist groups were formed in and around Saudi Arabia, encouraged by al-Mutawa'a's success. The most violent were the politically active Hamas in the Occupied Territories and Islamic Jihad which has its roots in Iran. In fact, it has been documented that Saudi Arabia has financed Hamas in the late eighties. Financing extremism in and around Saudi Arabia is an important tool for al-Saud to balance and justify their rule. As the Guardians of Mecca and Medina they must show Muslims that they are strict Guardians. In order for them to gain legitimacy in Arab eyes, they finance, support and nurture extremism. At the same time, they must show a contrary image to the West which backs their rule. Through international business contracts and propaganda, they paint a portrait of a moderate and friendly government. This balancing act has worked for years but now everyone--the extremists, the intellectuals, the young, the middle class, the students, and those who benefit the most from the status quo, are wondering which face is the true face of the Saudi government. Years of governmental obfuscation and silence has exhausted the Saudis' trust that words can effect change. They acted, and when they did, five Americans lay dead in a terrorist bomb on an American compound in Riyadh. Saudis are fed up with corruption and autocratic rule. Instead of using cassettes and faxes, they have turned to violence.

In addition to financing al-Mutawa'a, the House of Saud has financed and supported the following organizations :

HAMAS (West Bank and Gaza Strip):

King Fahd has financed and nurtured Hamas when it first started in order to create a balance against Yasser Arafat. Hamas turned their anger against the Israelis first by throwing stones and then taking innocent lives through terrorism.

FIS (Algeria):

King Fahd financed this Islamic organization to undermine a moderate Socialist government supported by most Algerians and, more importantly, to disrupt the Algerian oil flowing to Europe, thereby creating more customers for Saudi oil.


King Fahd supported this Islamic movement in Pakistan to keep that government from pursuing secular policies that did not fit with the overall scheme of al-Saud House of what a government's role should be to the people of Pakistan. Pakistani independence, geographic proximity to Saudi Arabia, size, and natural resources posed a threat to Saudi Arabia, in King Fahd's eyes. It pitted the Wahabbi sect against a progressive Islamic country.


A disorganized group, they are an offshoot of al-Mutawa'a with such extreme ideas that they make the Wahabbis look liberal. Their zealot ideas are incomprehensible but they are against any Western ideas and culture. This is a group of people who think that the devil is on earth in the form of a television, a car, a radio station, etc...


By supporting and secretly financing Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, King Fahd was attempting to take the spotlight from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was seen as a major Arab leader. Egypt's peace treaty with Israel gave it an international status which the Saudis envy. By creating internal fundamentalist problems for Egypt, King Fahd hoped to increase his prominence in the Arab world by taking away any leadership role Egypt could play.

MUJAHEDDIN (Afghanistan):

Publicly, King Fahd asserts that he financed the Mujaheddin of Afghanistan to defend an Islamic country against communist Russia. His real intent was to create a militia far from Saudi Arabia that could be used abroad as well to defend al-Saud domestic interests. The Mujaheddin today scoff at Saudi Arabia, going so far as to attack the Saudi Embassy in Kabul in October of 1992. Three members of the team that blew up the American compound in Riyadh in 1995 have been trained by the Mujaheddin. (See News.)

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Online Resources:
- Inhuman Rights

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- Saudi Embassy
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- Arabia Online
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