RIYADH: Saudi Arabia would send imams, one each from Masjidul Haram in Makkah and Masjid-i-Nabawi in Madina, to Pakistan every year.
Talking to visiting Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Mohammed Yousaf, President of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais made the announcement.
He said this was being done to promote ties between the two countries. He said that King Abdullah attached great importance to Pakistan and its people.
Relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are based on deep love and reverence, Sheikh Al-Sudais told the Pakistani minister and the accompanying delegation. He also prayed for the Muslim Ummah and progress and prosperity of Pakistan.
The Pakistani minister told Sheikh Al-Sudais that Pakistan was making a concerted effort to promote interfaith dialogue in line with the initiative of King Abdullah. He also extended an invitation to Sheikh Al-Sudais to visit Pakistan.
Sheikh Al-Sudais visited Pakistan while the Lal Masjid episode was dominating headlines, apparently to convince Maulana Abdul Aziz and late Abdul Rasheed Ghazi to surrender before authorities.
However, clerics of Lal Masjid did not pay heed to his advice.
According to the Wikileaks’ cable #178082 jihadi recruitment networks were established in Punjab and supported with the funding of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since 2005 (The Dawn, 2011). The cable regards a communication to the US State Department sent by the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, Bryan Hunt, on November 2008. Hunt refers about information he received through discussions with local religious and political authorities, as well as with representatives of the civil society. Radical madrasas following the Deobandi and the Ahl al-Hadith (wahhabi) creed were established in Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan villages, from where children were indoctrinated to jihad before being sent to training camps in the FATA areas (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). Arab-sponsored “charity organisations” like Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) were the link between Deobandi/Ahl al-Hadith religious leaders and local communities. It is important to note that in order to evade restrictions and sanctions the JuD has diversified its portfolio of charitable organisations into separate branches such as: Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir, Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, Paasbaan-e-Ahle-Hadith, aasban-e-Kashmir, Al-Mansoorian, and Al-Nasaryeen. It is believed that all these organisations are nothing but branches of JuD (The Guardian, 2010/a).
According to local Punjabis, the recruitment activities and the number of Deobandi and Ahl al-Hadith’s madrasas and mosques have dramatically risen since 2005. This surged was caused by an important influx of money coming from Islamic donors on behalf of the aforementioned charitable organisations as relief measure for the earthquake in Kashmir and North West Frontier Province (NWFP). For instance,JuD’s alias organisation Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation was responsible for the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in NWFP (The Guardian, 2010/b). However, the report says that a part of these funds were diverted to expand Deobandi and Ahl al-Hadith’s influence in Punjab, a province particularly hostile to those cults. It is also believed that JuD is common to inflate the costs of charitable infrastructures (e.g.schools, hospitals, madrasas) to siphon money destined to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) terrorist group (The Guardian, 2010/a). In this regard, another cable leaked from the US State Department states that: “Some of JuD’s budget, using fund raised both from witting donors and by fraud, is dedicated to social services or humanitarian projects, while some is used to finance LeT operations. – In December 2005, an official of Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq forwarded JuD donation receipts to a probable LeT front company in Saudi Arabia where an LeT finance official may have been closely associated to the general manager acting as a front for moving LeT funds […]” (The Guardian, 2010/a).
Once the JuD and similar organisations had succeeded in establishing a presence in the territory (e.g. through a madrasa or mosque), a flux of annual “donations” begun to arrive from private donors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These donations have been estimated at around $ 100 million / year (The Dawn, 2011). The recruitment process started with JuD, AKF and JeM organisations selecting and approaching families in difficult economic conditions and with several children; preferably male aged between 8 and 12. Then they were introducing Deobandi/Ahl al-Hadith religious leaders (mawlana) to the families. These mawlana were then convincing families that their poverty was caused by their deviation from the “true Islam”, due to their following of the Sufi creed. To return to the “right path” they had to offer one or two of their sons to the cause of Islam. This meant that Deobandiand/Ahl al-Hadith mawlana were offering families to educate their children in their madrasas and to give them employment afterword; either as clerics or as jihadists. In the latter case, a compensation of about $ 6.500 per son was given to the family for each “martyred” son. About 200 madrasas with less than 100 students each have been established for this purpose in the villages of Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan in eastern Punjab, while the northern village of Gujranwala has more than 500 (Walsh, 2011). Once the indoctrination was completed, some of the students were sent to jihadi training camps in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP) or to act as suicide bombers in targeted areas
The United States is well aware about the financing network starting from Arab countries and reaching terrorists organisations through charitable institutions. In the US State Department’s memo dated December 2009 it is written that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to terrorists groups worldwide” (The Guardian, 2010/b).
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