(7 of 9)
THE MONEY: STILL SPREADING A RADICAL MESSAGE
How Saudis educate their citizens is one issue; what they teach other Muslims around the world is another. Apart from channeling money to foundations that have assisted terrorist groups, Saudis have for years supported institutions abroad that propagate Wahhabism. Mohammed al-Khilewi, a Saudi diplomat who defected to the U.S. in the mid-1990s out of opposition to his country's policies, told TIME in a statement provided by his lawyer, Michael Wildes, "The Saudi government spends billions of dollars to establish cultural centers in the U.S. and all over the world. They use these centers to recruit individuals and to establish extreme organizations."
Many of the madrasahs, or Islamic schools, in Pakistan that produced Taliban extremists and affiliated Pakistani radicals are Saudi funded. So are some of the more strident Islamic schools in Indonesia called pesantren, after a strain of Islam close to Wahhabi thinking. Abu Nida, a cleric in Piyungan, Indonesia, says Saudi funding--he won't say from which group--enabled him to start his Bin Baaz Islamic Center. "The first prerequisite is that you have to be a Salafi pesantren to receive the money," he says.
Bosnia is a relatively new target for the Wahhabis. The Saudis have spent some $400 million there since 1993, initially to help Bosnian Muslims fight the Serbs and then to rebuild the country and to missionize. The thrust of their message is that Bosnia's comparatively secular Muslims have strayed from the true path. A book distributed by Active Islamic Youth, a group in Bosnia founded with Saudi aid, is called Beliefs That We Have to Correct. In a high-profile case last December, a Bosnian Muslim who claimed to be a member of Active Islamic Youth (the group denied it) murdered a Christian Croat father and his two daughters on Christmas Eve in what locals say was a hate crime. Saudi teachings, complains Mohammed Besic, a former Bosnian Interior Minister, "are poisoning our youth." More recently the Saudis have focused on nearby Kosovo. Half of the $1 million the Saudi Joint Relief Committee spent in the two months after the 1999 war there went to sponsor 388 religious "propagators" intent on converting Kosovars to Wahhabism.
Diplomats in East Africa say Saudis' influence in the region is minimal but growing, especially in Tanzania, where fundamentalists have taken over 30 of the 487 mosques in the capital and have begun bombing bars and beating women who go out without being fully covered. According to a Western intelligence report, the Saudis are spending about $1 million a year in Tanzania to build new mosques and buy influence with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party. "We get our funds from Yemen and Saudi Arabia," says Mohammed Madi, a fundamentalist activist. "Officially the money is used to buy medicine, but in reality the money is given to us to support our work and buy guns."