As politicians beat the drums of fear and hysteria over the threat of ISIS, there is little examination of how and why these people become terrorists. ISIS is the out-of-control military arm of a radical fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. Many of their fighters were indoctrinated into a hatred of the West attending a madrassa, an Islamic religious school largely funded by Saudi Arabia.

Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. For decades the Saudi government has spent tens of billions of dollars of its oil export revenue throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere on building mosques and madrassas, publishing books, giving scholarships and more to promote its intolerant form of Islam. Al-Qaida, the Taliban and ISIS have all found recruits from these schools.

Sharia, or Islamic law, is the basis of the legal system in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi courts impose a number of severe physical punishments. The death penalty can be imposed for a wide range of offenses and can be carried out by beheading with a sword, stoning or firing squad, followed by crucifixion. Sound familiar?

In short, these Saudi-supported madrassas are a continuing source of radical clerics and ISIS terrorists, and the United States does nothing to pressure Saudi Arabia to stop. For decades the United States has given Saudi Arabia special “hands off” status. We needed their oil, and the Bush and Saudi royal family shared a personal and financial relationship.

We no longer need their oil, and we owe the Saudi royal family nothing as they spend their oil revenue to wage a proxy war on the West. It’s time for our leaders to denounce Saudi Arabia and begin to shut off the supply of new fighters for ISIS.

John Benziger, MD

South China


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