The Pensacola Shooter’s al-Qaeda Ties Should Lead to Renewed Scrutiny of Saudi Arabia

In December, Mohammed al-Shamrani, a Saudi military pilot participating in a training exercise at the U.S. naval base in Pensacola, Florida, shot three American servicemen and injured eight others. According to information recently released by the Justice Department, the shooter was an al-Qaeda operative who had been planning the attack for some time. The Pentagon has responded with an effort to improve its vetting procedures for participants in such joint exercises, but John Hannah and Varsha Koduvayur argue that more must be done:

Beyond the narrow issue of vetting lies the broader problem of Saudi Arabia’s historical role as proselytizer-in-chief of Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative religious ideology that has set so many young Muslims on the path toward violent jihad. To his credit, Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, declared in 2017 that the kingdom was returning to “moderate Islam.” Since then, he’s declawed the dreaded religious police, jailed radical preachers, and implemented far-reaching reforms, including all-important efforts to empower women. By most accounts, the Saudis are now largely out of the business of pouring resources into spreading Wahhabism abroad as well.

But the Frankenstein’s monster that they did so much to create lives on. That’s why it’s important that the Saudis be pressed to do everything in their power to help fight the threats that their previous policies left behind. The fact is that Shamrani was a teenager in high school when he succumbed to al-Qaeda’s siren song, imbibing the hate-speech that still lingers today in Saudi textbooks—more than a decade after Riyadh first promised Washington that they’d be excised. Alas, as documented in a recent report, the kingdom’s texts still truck in hate-filled passages that refer to Jews and Christians as “the enemies of Islam and its people.”

[The Saudi response to the Pensacola shooting] represents a dramatic reversal from the denial and deflection that characterized the Saudi reaction to 9/11. But it’s important that the Saudis follow through with action. There’s no doubt a lot they could learn by conducting a deep dive into Shamrani’s life. . . . Indeed, rather than having to wait four months for FBI engineers to hack Shamrani’s phones to discover his al-Qaeda connections, one might have hoped that a vigorous Saudi investigation would have already uncovered such links.

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Read more at The Hill

More about: Al Qaeda, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Security

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter