Saudi Wahhabism and Conspiracies


Haytham A. K. Radwan  for

   While Islam as a faith is the main religion in 48 countries, and Muslims around the globe are rapidly growing, Saudi Islam is the main sectarian movement in Saudi Arabia, and its influence is also rapidly growing. Acting as the protector of Islam through its own form of Islam, while it remains an American client state through its location, petrodollar’s cheque book, and American diplomatic and military protection, it could be argued that among the major influential players, Saudi Arabia’s policies, its own form of Islam, and its relations with the US, undoubtedly constitute one of the most serious threats to the security of the world today.

     Indeed, since the eighteenth century, and in conjunction with the Wahhabi religious establishment, Saudi Arabia became the centre for a new brand of religious imperialism based on sectarian movements. For nearly a century, the kingdom’s religious fervour kept the oil-rich country in the Western political camp. Today, the existence of radical Islamic groups is in part a legacy of the Saudi form of Islam, not Islam itself, and the Saudi-US alliance, and of political decisions made to address a different set of security concerns which helped no one accept the US projects.

     While Islam itself as a faith is not a threat to international security, it is Saudi Islam that is a threat. Indeed, it is fair to say that the problems within the Muslim world today rise not from Islam itself, but from the Saudi form of Islam, Muslim religious leaders who are relying on Saudi support, and their own interpretations of the Quran. It is also fair to say that questions pertaining to why Americans see Islam as a threat to world stability is because of the American failures to distinguish between Islam as a faith and Saudi Islam. In the US, Islam has been perceived as a threat to its civilization. However, while Americans knew that Islam itself is not a threat to their civilization, the majority of American politicians, journalists, and ideologists have ignored the truth that the threat is coming from Saudi Islam. This is seen as a tactic to avoid any damage to the relations with the House of Saud in order to keep economic and political interests alive.

     As a result, the Saudi-US relationship and the Saudi Wahhabi expansionist policy not only transform Muslim world politics, but also world politics. Saudaisation movements may expand into broader struggle throughout the Arab and Muslim nations and beyond. In some parts of the Muslim world, steps toward Saudaisation have already begun while the US is turning a blind eye to the Saudi rulers. At the same time, the US is also busy trying to convince the world that their policies towards Saudi Arabia is about promoting democracy and protecting human rights.

   Apart from the obvious results of such a conflict, such as loss of power in some Muslim countries, it would impact on the behaviour of other Western and non-Western states which could use the conflict for more ideological and tactical reasons. So, because religion has no borders, it could become global religious and sectarian conflicts.

     It is possible we are already seeing the war in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and of course, the non-stoppable Wahhabi-American pressure on Syria.

Why? This is because Wahhabism itself is nothing more than an extension of Western imperialism. This short paper shed light on the roots and origin of the Saudi Wahhabism.

The Roots of Wahhabism:

      Although the origin of the Saudis’ current expansionist and extremist policy dates back to the religious and military alliance with the Wahhabi establishment, it was actually the British who initially provided the Saudis with the ideas of Wahhabism and made them its leaders for their own purposes to destroy the Muslim Ottoman Empire.[1] Indeed, the intricate details of this intriguing British conspiracy are to be found in the memoirs of its master spy, titled “Confessions of a British Spy” (For details see Sindi 2004). [2] In his memories, the British spy “Hempher” who was one of many spies sent by London to the Arabian Peninsula in order to destabilize the Ottoman Empire has stated:

“In the Hijri year, the Minister of Colonies sent me to Egypt, Iraq, Hejaz and Istanbul to act as a spy and to obtain information necessary and sufficient for the breaking up of Muslims. The Ministry appointed nine more people, full of agility and courage, for the same mission and at the same time. In addition to the money, information and maps we would need, we were given a list containing names of statesmen, scholars, and chiefs of tribes. I can never forget! When I said farewell to the secretary, he said, the future of our State is dependent on your success. Therefore you should exert your utmost energy”. (Nabhani, see also confession of a British spy). [3]

As a result, a small Bedouin army was established with the help of British undercover spies. In time, this army grew into a major menace that eventually terrorized the entire Arabian Peninsula up to Damascus, and caused one of the worst Fitnah (violent civil strife) in the history of Islam.[4] In the process, this army was able to viciously conquer most of the Arabian Peninsula to create the first Saudi-Wahhabi State.[5]

After the death of Muhammad ibn Saud, his son, Abd al-Aziz, became Ad Diriyah’s new emir who captured Riyadh in 1773. By 1781, the al-Saud family’s territory extended outward from Ad Diriyah, located in the Arabian Peninsula’s central region of Najd, about one hundred miles in every direction. In 1788, Saud, son of Abd al-Aziz, was declared heir apparent. He led his Wahhabi warriors on more raids.[6] To fight what they considered Muslim “polytheists” and “heretics”, the Saudis-Wahhabis shocked the entire Muslim world when in 1802, invaded Iraq’s Shiite majority, sacked Karbala, where Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad and the leading Shiite martyr is buried, and also demolished the massive golden dome and intricate glazed tiles above Hussein Bin Ali’s tomb, a holy shrine to Shiite Muslims. In the same year, the Saudi-Wahhabi warriors committed another atrocity in Taif, just outside Mecca. Again in 1810 they ruthlessly killed many innocent people across the Arabian Peninsula. They raided and pillaged many pilgrimage caravans and sever major cities in Hejaz including the two holiest cities of Makah and Medina.

In Makah they turned away pilgrims, and in Medina they attacked and desecrated Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque, opened his grave, and sold and distributed its valuable relics and expensive jewels.[7] The Saudi-Wahhabi crimes angered the ottomans.

In 1818, an Egyptian army destroyed the Saudis-Wahhabis army and razed their capital to the ground. The Wahhabi Imam Abdullah al-Saud and two of his followers were sent to Istanbul in chains where they were publicly beheaded. The rest of the Saudi-Wahhabi clan was held in captivity in Cairo. The destruction of the Saudi-Wahhabi warrior’s alliance did not last long. It was soon revived with the help of British colonialist.[8]

Accordingly, when Britain colonized Bahrain in 1820 and to expand its colonization in the area, the Wahhabi House of Saud sought British protection through Wahhabi Imams.[9] As a result, the British sent Colonel Lewis Pelly in 1865 to Riyadh to establish an official British treaty with the Wahhabi House.[10] Between 1871 and 1876, power changed hand seven times and the Wahhabis led more raids. This marked the end of the second Saudi state. This period however, kept the Wahhabi movement alive, ready to influence Muslims again in the twentieth century—and in the twenty-first.[11]

The twentieth century’s Saudi Arabia comprises the third period of Wahhabis political power. It has changed Saudi Arabia dramatically and the Saudi-Wahhabi’s kingdom has changed the century significantly. The first interval began in 1902, when Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud captured Riyadh and proceeded to re-establish a Wahhabi Kingdom. In 1904, Abd al-Aziz captured Anaiza, an oasis near Hail. In 1913, he captured Al Hasa Province, but had no idea that he had just acquired a quarter of the world’s oil.[12]

Not surprisingly, after his return from Al Hasa, the British helped ibn Saud with the establishments of the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood), an army of fierce religious warriors. The Ikhwan looked for the opportunity to fight non-Wahhabi Muslims—and non-Muslims as well—and they took Abd al Aziz as their leader. The Ikhwan movement began to emerge among the Bedouin. They abandoned their traditional way of life in the desert and moved to an agricultural settlement. By moving to agricultural settlement, the Ikhwan intended to take up a new way of life to enforce a rigid Islamic orthodoxy.[13]

To achieve his goals, on December 26, 1915, Abd al Aziz signed treaty with Sir Percy Cox, Britain’s political agent in the Arab Gulf. The British praised Abd al-Aziz as the greatest Arab man,[14] and recognised his [Abd al- Aziz] sovereignty over Najd and Al-Hasa (central and eastern Arabia), while Abd al-Aziz promised the British that he would not have any dealing with any other country without the British approval and supplies.[15] In addition, the British praised Abd al-Aziz despite his unattractive traits such as public beheading, amputations and floggings. The advisor of Abd al-Aziz for more over 30 years, Harry St John Philby, had described him as ‘the greatest Arab since the Prophet Muhammad’. Philby was sent to Arabia by the British government to assist Abd al-Aziz, perhaps to play kingmaker, in 1917.[16]

Indeed, when in 1915, there were more than 200 hujar in and around Najd and nearly 100,000 Ikhwan waiting to fight, the British supplied Abd al-Aziz with weapons and money. The word hijra (hujar) was related to the term for the Prophet’s emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622. This period ended in 1934, with the declaration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud.

Since then, Abd al-Aziz declared the relationship between oil and religion. Indeed, after establishing his British-made Wahhabi State, the Wahhabi king and imam Abd al-Aziz became an autocratic dictator who named the whole country after his own family, calling it the Kingdom of “Saudi” Arabia.[17] Since then the House of Saud has allocated a significant amount of oil revenues to building Islamic schools and mosques throughout the Muslim world,[18] which eventually has inspired radical Islam.[19] At that time however, Abd al-Aziz had various goals: he wanted to take Hail from the Al Rashid’ clan, to extend his control into the northern deserts (Syria), and to take over the Hejaz and the Persian Gulf coast. While Cox openly encouraged Abd al-Aziz to attack al-Rasheed’s clans to divert them from helping the Ottomans he prevented him from taking over much of the Gulf coast, where they [the British] had established protectorates.[20] They also opposed Abd al Aziz’s efforts to extend his influence beyond the Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi deserts because of their own imperial interests. But Abd al-Aziz continued his mission, and after he began the siege of Hail, the city surrendered to the Saudi’s warriors. In 1922, the Ikhwan warriors attacked Amman, the capital of Trans-Jordan. This caused problem with the British because, unlike Mecca and Medina, Hail had no religious significance. However, Abd al-Aziz apologised to the British. The British asked him to draw borders between his kingdom and Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait.[21]

Today, although a few Wahhabi religious leaders have tried to “distant” themselves from the House of Saud’s brutality and anti-Islamic policies in a vain attempt to save Wahhabism’s image from further deterioration, most of the top Wahhabi religious leaders are still firmly behind the House of Saud. In fact, most Wahhabi leaders have openly supported the House of Saud’s unpopular domestic and foreign policies. Indeed, in the Arab nations, the rise of extremism in the form of the Wahhabi movement during the twentieth century could not have taken place without the huge investments made by the Al-Saud family in conjunction with the American in the name of democracy, freedom and human rights to destroy Arab nationalism, socialism, secularism, and of course Islam. This has intensified since the discovery of oil in the 1930s, reached its peak during World War II, and the Cold War, and took more extreme directions since the establishment of the Iranian Islamic Republic in 1979, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the same year.


[1] – Abdullah-M, S 2004, ‘Britain and the Rise of Wahhabism and the House of Saud’,Kana’an Bulletin, vol. IV, no. 361, pp. 1-9.

[2] -Sindi, A-M 2004, ‘Britain and the Rise of Wahhabism and the House of Saud’, Kana’n bulletin, vol. IV, no. 361.

[3] -Nabhani, Y Khulasat-ul Kalam, Dar-ul-kitab-is-sufi (the House of Sufi book), Cairo, Egypt, see also Confession of a British Spy and British Enmity Against Islam, available at: , <>.

[4] Weston, M 2008, Prophets and PrincesSaudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present, Wiley &Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.

[5] -Sindi, A-M 2004, ‘Britain and the Rise of Wahhabism and the House of Saud’, Kana’n bulletin, vol. IV, no. 361.

[6] Weston, M 2008a, Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present, Wiley &Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.

[7] Ibid; Sindi, A-M 2004, ‘Britain and the Rise of Wahhabism and the House of Saud’, Kana’n bulletin, vol. IV, no. 361.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Weston, M 2008, Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present, Wiley &Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey; Troeller, G 1976, the Birth of Saudi Arabia: Britain and the Rise of the House of Saud, Frank Cass, London.

[10] Lacey, R 1981, the Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York.

[11] Weston, M 2008, Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present, Wiley &Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Aburish, SK 1994, A Brutal Friendship: the West and the Arab Elite, first edn, St. Martin’s Press, New York.

[15] Weston, M 2008, Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present, Wiley &Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.

[16] Aburish, SK 1994, A Brutal Friendship: the West and the Arab Elite, first edn, St. Martin’s Press, New York.

[17] Sindi, A-M 2004, ‘Britain and the Rise of Wahhabism and the House of Saud’, Kana’n bulletin, vol. IV, no. 361.

[18] Long, D 1979, The Wilson Quarterly (1976), vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 83-91.

[19] Redissi, H 2008, ‘The Refutation of Wahhabism in Arabic Sources, 1745-1932′, inKingdom without Borders: Saudi Arabia’s Political, Religious and Media Frontiers, ed. A-R M, Hurst, London, pp. 157-177.

[20] Aburish, SK 1994, A Brutal Friendship: the West and the Arab Elite, first edn, St. Martin’s Press, New York.

[21] Weston, M 2008, Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present, Wiley &Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.

( / 22.03.2012)

One thought on “Saudi Wahhabism and Conspiracies

  1. this is a greatest lie of the century.i thank God that i read history of Islam and Islamic kingdoms very well,so my brothers&sisters dont be deceive by this writer,he can not prove himself.

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