SHARE IT

News Analysis

Source: Saudis Dispatching Salafist Jihadists to Syria

Tue, June 19, 2012

by: 
Ryan Mauro

If oppressed people fighting for their lives and freedom won’t get help from the U.S. and its allies, they’ll go somewhere else. That’s what’s happening in Syria right now.

RadicalIslam.org has been informed by a source operating in the region that has provided credible information in the past that hardline Saudi princes, sheikhs, tribal leaders and businessmen friendly to the Salafi Wahhabists are organizing the dispatching of fighters to Syria to assist the rebels. The Islamist coalition has reportedly bought and shipped anti-tank missiles to elements of the rebels and is now seeking anti-aircraft missiles.

The source said that the number of Saudi Wahhabists in Syria right now is estimated to be between 150-200 maximum, but up to 450 are on their way and another 450-500 are in Saudi Arabia preparing to embark on their trip. The sheikhs are also trying to recruit former members of the Saudi National Guard. The source said that Islamists in Qatar, home of Muslim Brotherhood theologian Sheikh Yousef Qaradawi and Abu Dhabi, are instrumental in the effort.

The account is substantiated by a report for the Weekly Standard by Jonathan Schanzer and Steven Miller on June 12. They report that three extremely popular Saudi clerics began raising money for the rebels after the May 25 Houla massacre and are directing money to bank accounts in the region and Europe and to the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society of Kuwait, an organization blacklisted by the U.S. as an Al-Qaeda front. The Saudi Royal Family distanced itself from the effort, speaking against “indiscriminate donations,” and the Saudi Grand Mufti criticized the clerics for taking fundraising out of the government’s hands and doing it entirely on their own.

The Saudis are also, on a smaller scale, facilitating the movement of Salafist fighters into Yemen in order to counter Iran’s increased covert support to the radical Shiite Houthi rebels, the source claims.

The fight against Al-Qaeda and like-minded Islamist terrorists is shifting to Mali, North Africa and Central Asia, the source said. Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has reportedly allied with the Tuareg rebels in Mali and it continues to run a lucrative narcotics trafficking route from northern Nigeria to Spain through Morocco.

Central Asia is expected to become a hotter battlefield as U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan. The source said that there is significant concern that Islamist jihadists are planning to reassert themselves in Afghanistan and then spread into Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and other areas of central Asia. Pakistani support for jihadists is expected to remain in place because many Pashtun military and intelligence officers have familial ties to the tribal areas where the jihadists have strongholds.

Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.