Author: Robert Fife
Source: The Ottawa Citizen, September 9, 2004
Organizations mentioned in the article:
Original title: Saudi religious funding fosters terror, study says
Saudi Arabia’s funding of mosques and Islamic schools is making Canada’s Arab community vulnerable to “extremist influences” that could threaten the country’s security, says a new study for the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.
Martin Rudner, the founding director of Carleton University’s Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies, said Saudi money is being used to extend its brand of militant Islam to Canada and fostering the spread of terrorism.
“Many, if not most, Arab and Muslim religious and education institutions in this country are still financed largely by Islamic charitable organizations based in Saudi Arabia. Saudi funding brought with it teachers, clerics and materials that infused … mosques, schools, publications and other communal institutions with an extremist and militant Islamic purview, characteristic of the Wahhabi creed,” Mr. Rudner writes.
“The continued dependency of Canadian Arab and Muslim institutions on external resources renders them vulnerable to extremist influences that can threaten Canadian multicultural values, public safety and national security.”
Mr. Rudner notes some influential Saudi-based charities with offices in Canada, such as the World Muslim League and the International Islamic Relief Organization, have been suspected of funnelling money, weapons and personnel to al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups.
Mr. Rudner’s study is similar to the recent findings of the U.S. Council of Foreign Relations that warned of the dangers of Saudi funding of radical Islamic extremism in the U.S. and Canada.
Saudi Arabia has acknowledged funding mosques in Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto, but it has never admitted to such far-ranging funding of Canadian Muslim institutions as cited by Mr. Rudner.
However, radical cleric Aly Hindy, iman of the Salaheddin Islamic Centre in Toronto, which preaches Wahhabism and has been a target of the RCMP and CSIS, said the Saudis are principal source of funds for Canada’s Arab community.
He said that Saudi Arabia usually funds the building of mosques and helps pay the salaries of most clerics in Canada through the World Muslim League.
Although Mohammed Khadi of the World Muslim League in Toronto did not deny Saudi funds are flowing to Canadian mosques and schools, he denied it is paying the clerics’ salaries.
“No, it is not the salaries. It is kind of assistance some times. You give it to some imams … We give the money sometimes when we find them in need,” he said in a recent interview.
Asked how much Saudi Arabia has provided his organization to disperse throughout the Arab community, Mr. Khadi replied: “I will not answer … Everything we do is legal.”
Mr. Rudner said terrorists have embedded themselves in Canada’s Arab community where they seek to recruit and raise funds and which they use as a base for activities against the United States and its allies.
“Al-Qaeda has demonstrated considerable resources in creating a fresh cadre, such as Canadians who could readily enter and sojourn in the U.S. or other targeted countries,” he said in the article entitled Canada’s Intelligence Community and the War on Terrorism.
Mr. Rudner also warned of a new danger from Islamic terrorists seeking to gain acknowledge of weapons of mass destruction at Canadian universities and research institutions.
“There is no mechanism available to limit the access of students or researchers from suspect countries or affiliations to the study of such sensitive subjects as nuclear science and engineering, chemical and biological toxins, cryptology or other academic fields that can have a dual use for military or terrorist application,” he said.
Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fund 210 Islamic centres and 1,359 mosques around the world including in Canada, where it donated $5 million US for an Islamic Centre in Toronto.