NYT Editors: Saudi Arabia Spends ‘Untold Millions’ Promoting Militant IslamInfluential groups within the Islamic country have undermined US interests abroad for years, and their exploitation of U-aided Kosovo as a breeding ground for violent reactionaries is only the “latest chapter in this long, sorrowful history,” writes the editorial board of The New York Times.
Influential groups within Saudi Arabia have undermined U.S. interests abroad for years, and their exploitation of U.S.-aided Kosovo as a breeding ground for violent reactionaries is only the “latest chapter in this long, sorrowful history,” writes the editors of The New York Times.
“[T]here is no evidence that any group gave money directly and explicitly to persuade Kosovars to go to Syria,” but in a recent article, “senior officials in Kosovo told” a Times reporter “that extremist clerics and groups have spent heavily to promote radical Islamic thinking among young and vulnerable people. ‘The issue is they supported thinkers who promote violence and jihad in the name of protecting Islam,’ ” Fatos Makolli, head of Kosovo’s counterterrorism police, [told the paper].”
The editors continue:
With a population of only 1.8 million people, Kosovo has sent more of its young people per capita than any other country to fight and die in Iraq and Syria. Since 2012, some 314 Kosovars have joined the Islamic State, including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children. Even Belgium, widely seen as a hotbed of extremism after the attacks on Paris and Brussels, lags behind it in the recruitment rankings. …
The United States and NATO invested heavily in helping Kosovo gain independence from Serbia in 2008 and establish democracy. That Saudi Arabia should be using Kosovo as a breeding ground for extremists, or allowing it to be used as a breeding ground by any Saudi entity or citizen, is a cruel reminder of the contradictory and even duplicitous behavior of America’s partners in the Persian Gulf and helps to explain why its relationships with those countries have become increasingly troubled.
Kosovo, rescued from Serbian oppression after months of NATO bombing in 1999, has been known as a tolerant society. For centuries, the Muslim majority has followed the liberal Hanafi version of Islam, which is accepting of others. Since the war, that tradition has been threatened by Saudi-trained imams, their costs paid by Saudi-sponsored charities, preaching the primacy of Shariah law and fostering violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims viewed as heretics.
Most Kosovars have resisted such proselytizing, and officials in Kosovo say that support for the United States and the West remains strong. Yet experts point to a number of reasons the country has been fertile ground for recruitment to radical ideology: a large population of young people living in rural poverty with little hope of jobs; corruption and an attendant lack of faith in government; and, according to a 2015 report by the Kosovar Center for Security Studies, an education system that does not encourage critical thinking.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.Wait, before you go…
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