Monday, June 14, 2004

The Wahabi Threat

The Guardian takes on Wahabism in this report from William Dalrymple in Pakistan. (Bernard-Henry Levy discussed the Wahabi connection in his book on Daniel Pearl's murder). Dalrymple has a point, though "serves you right" isn't a terribly strong policy prescription. Living in Uzbekistan, I was often told that the reason people joined Islamist fundamentalist cells in Central Asia was "for the money." Saudi-backed groups were reportedly paying members $100 a month to spread Wahabism, if not to organize terrorist acts, while college professors or others working on Uzbek government salaries made about $20 a month. Only multinational corporations and NGOs paid more than the Wahabis. One interesting aspect, Uzbek and Russian media call the people we call Islamist, "Wahabi." They are philologically correct -- and we are using euphemisms.