Muslim World League

Headquartered in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh, the Muslim World League (MWL) was founded in 1962 as the semiofficial organization for the global dissemination of Wahhabism. The head of the MWL is a Saudi government minister, its board is composed largely of the Saudi ulama (recognized religious leadership), and it is funded directly by the Saudi state. According to the Supreme Islamic Council for the United States, "it functions as the world headquarters for extremist Islamic networks."12

The MWL acts to spread and strengthen Wahhabism through both the establishment of new institutions and movements and the takeover of old ones, as well as through general preaching, publications, and propaganda. The initial personnel for its construction came from bringing together Saudi-Wahhabi clerics with the refugee leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. This latter Salafist organization had been founded in Cairo in 1928 by the religious scholar Hassan al-Banna, himself the student of the Wahhabi preacher, and paid Saudi royal family operative, Rashid Rida. The Muslim Brotherhood grew into a powerful movement, guilty of innumerable acts of terror and murder directed against Egypt's large Coptic Christian minority, Shiites, and secular Sunni Muslims. Unfortunately, the brothers' pious devotions did not stop there, but also included the prolific assassination of government ministers, first within the British puppet government of King Farouk, and then those of the secular national socialist dictator Gamel Abdul Nasser. When Nasser responded to this threat by expelling the brotherhood from Egypt, the Saudis welcomed them with open arms.13

Leading Muslim brothers, including Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (later convicted for his role in the first World Trade Center bombing), future al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abdullah Azam, and Muhammad Qutb, were given not only sanctuary, but cushy teaching positions at Saudi universities. Thus brought comfortably into the fold, the brothers quite reasonably dropped their previous nitpicking objections to the irreligious hedonistic personal behavior (such as alcoholism) of the Saudi royals, and buckled down to the task of assisting the MWL team in its sacred mission of bringing all Muslims to embrace Wah-habism. As part of the MWL brain trust, the brothers poured out an endless stream of fanatical books and pamphlets for Saudi government publication and worldwide distribution, and helped shape the minds of hundreds of thousands of promising young scholars brought to Arabia from around the world to receive their instruction. This latter activity proved quite productive. From their positions teaching Islamic studies at King Abdul Aziz University in Jidda, for example, Azam and Qutb had the honor of educating Osama bin Laden.14 In 1981 they were also able to organize the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat after Sadat committed the crime of making peace with Israel.

Thus, through incorporation into the MWL, the Muslim Brotherhood effectively became a branch of the Saudi-Wahhabi international. Another important Islamic fundamentalist movement that was taken over by the MWL in similar fashion was the Pakistan-based Jamaat Ulema Ilami (JUI). The point man for this effort was none other than Abdulla Azam, bin Laden's own mentor at King Abdul Aziz University. After finishing his tour there, Azam was sent by the MWL to Pakistan, where he ran their branch office and taught at the Islamic University in Islamabad. There he instructed thousands of local scholars, who in turn became the schoolteachers who would bring the Wahhabi doctrine of fanatical jihad to the impressionable young village boys of the Hindu Kush.15

Azam also identified the most radical existing JUI madrassas (local Islamic schools), and supplied them liberally with money, thereby creating an incentive for the rest to adopt extremism as well. Then, having gained a presence in the region, Azam proceeded to use copious Saudi funds to set up thousands of Wahhabi madrassas throughout the country.16

The hundreds of thousands of graduates of these madrassas soon developed into a fanatical terrorist movement that virtually destroyed civil society in much of Pakistan and murdered countless Hindus in the disputed province of Kashmir. On the Afghan border, they grouped together to create the horrific theocratic totalitarian force known as the Taliban.

In 1989 Azam was assassinated, probably by Soviet agents. His place as leader of the Taliban was briefly taken by his son-in-law, Abdullah Anas. A few years later, however, Anas was reassigned to head the Wahhabi Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) killing spree in Algeria, and the Taliban franchise was passed on to Azam's student protégé, Osama bin Laden.

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