Saudi Arabia, Patron to Hafiz Sayeed?


Recently India’s Prime Minister concluded his visit to Saudi Arabia. This is the first visit by any Indian Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia in the past 25 years. It was said to be a very productive visit, strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

Apart from other agreements, both countries also signed an extradition treaty. After this treaty, India can request extradition from Saudi Arabia any wanted criminal who has committed a crime in India.

But from this treaty can we conclude that Saudi Arabia has no role in the worldwide expansion of terrorism and its linkage with the worldwide movement of so-called ‘Islamic Jihad’? Is Saudi Arabia as peace loving as it seems?

Before continuing, it is necessary to clarify that the Wahhabi ideology, which has become the biggest inspiration for Islamic terrorism, has its roots in Saudi Arabia itself. If Wahhabi ideology teaches to follow radical Islam, the same radical Islam defines the word ‘Jihad’ in its own way directly linking it to terrorism.

Let’s look at this Wahhabi ideology. An 18th century Saudi Arabian Muslim Scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab started this radical mission of giving an extremist face to Islam. He stressed the promotion of what he called ‘Pure Islam’. The things he felt necessary, he termed Islamic and what he didn’t like, he termed anti-Islam and non-Sharia.

Wahhab was of the view that Muslims, who do non-Islamic deeds (according to him), are also Kaafir (non believer). In a short time, he became very popular among the illiterate Arabs. During the expansion of this ideology, Wahhabi supporters created large scale armed disturbance in many parts of the world including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Consequently, so many innocent Muslim women, children and old people were killed. The same people destroyed the house where the Prophet Mohammad was born. The supporters of this ideology also destroyed many mausoleums of Sufi saints. The same ideology affected Saudi-born Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most dangerous terrorist.

When Osama Bin Laden becomes the world’s most wanted terrorist, the Saudi Arabian government disowned him and again became clean and peace loving. Moreover, Saudi Arabia never hesitated in speaking against Laden or other terrorists.

Currently, Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the chief of Pak-based Jamaat-Ud-Dawa has emerged as the biggest hurdle between India-Pakistan relations. He has become the world’s most controversial and most wanted terrorist. His name tops the list of the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.

The lone 26/11 terrorist captured alive, Ajmal Amir Kasab, admitted the involvement of Hafiz Sayeed in the attack. He also admitted his training took place at a terrorist training camp at Muridke in Pakistan. This training centre is operated by Jamaat-Ud-Dawa. In New Delhi, in the foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan last week, the dossiers submitted by India to the Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir include the demand of handing over of 34 terrorists including Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed to India. Pakistan has made clear that it will never give Hafiz Sayeed to India.

hafiz saeed

After the February talks, Hafiz Sayeed gave an interview to a TV channel in Pakistan. In this interview, he said his education in Saudi Arabia had a major influence on his thinking and working. Possibly, as a result of the same radical education, instead of facing the camera, he sat with his back to it.

On being asked by the journalist, he said that capturing a picture is not allowed in Sharia. Notably, Hafiz Sayeed was a professor of Islamic studies. And now he is running many Madrasas, hospitals, many NGOs and spreading Jihadi ideology under “Jamaat-Ud-Dawa”. He himself admits that his mission is to connect with Muslims through “Jamaat”, to ‘reform’ them and to ‘spread Islamic education on a global scale’.

After 26/11, Pakistan placed Hafiz Sayeed under house arrest, under pressure from India. At that time, Mr. Abdul Salam from Saudi Arabia mediated between Hafiz Sayeed and the Pak government. This incident compels us to think about the reason for Saudi Arabian sympathy towards Hafiz Sayeed. After this settlement, Hafiz Sayeed was freed, and he has since started rallies in major pakistani cities, calling for jihad against India.

General Zia Ul Haq, the military dictator of Pakistan, who gave Islam an extremist face in Pakistan, also had the hand of Saudi Arabia on his head. The mention of one more incident is relevant. When General Parvez Musharraf ejected the Nawaz Sharif government and put Nawaz Sharif behind bars, at that time Saudi Arabia provided help to Nawaz Sharif in saving him from Gen. Musharraf and called Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia. This instance is enough to understand that Saudi Arabia not only keeps a close watch at every political happening in Pakistan but also has a considerable say in Pakistan politics.

The irony is the Indian Prime Minister visits Saudi Arabia to strengthen bilateral relations and by giving him an unprecedented welcome, the royal family there conveys to the world that India and Saudi Arabia are progressing on the path of friendship.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia provides financial assistance to many Pakistan based organisations including “Jamaat-Ud-Dawa”, who are active in anti-India terrorist activities. Hafiz Sayeed has expressed his support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is the most dangerous Pak based terrorist organisation and was also involved in the recent attack on the Indian Medical Mission in Kabul.

During his interview, Hafiz Sayeed said he is with not only LeT but with every such organisation doing ‘jihad for the independence of Kashmir’. While defining “Jihad” in his own way, he says that the effort made to defend yourself from an attacker is jihad. According to him, the effort he is making to save the Kashmiri Muslims from the Indian Army is jihad.

This terrorist Hafiz Sayeed also terms the militant struggle in Kashmir right and calls the terrorists involved in it “freedom fighters.” Though he denied his involvement in attacks on the Indian Parliament and 26/11, when asked what he means by ‘one Mumbai is not enough’, he had no answer. He also called on the Pakistan government to declare jihad against India or else the religious leaders of Pakistan would themselves decide to declare jihad against India. He says that every child of Pakistan and every member of Jamaat-Ud-Dawa is ready to fight against India.

This situation is certainly a matter of concern for India. Apart from the terrorist activities in Pakistan, the world should also notice the roots of those extremist activities in Saudi Arabia, as a result of which the roots of communalism and Islamic sectarianism are rapidly and deeply spreading in the world.

The price which Pakistan has paid for the Saudi patronisation of Zia-Ul-Haq to Hafiz Sayeed, is entirely visible not only to the Pakistani people but to the entire world.

Tanveer Jafri is an award-winning journalist and peace activist, based in India, covering communal harmony and social activities.