Sunday, 21 September 2014

IS and the conspiracies

A piece I wrote for BBC Vietnam on the IS, tackling some of the common conspiracies among the Muslims I have been talking to recently. Here is the summary:

1. Who funds the IS?
Conspiracies: Israel (of course), Jews, the US
Reality check: IS gets its revenues mainly from two sources: oil and the Gulf. They are Taliban with oil. Each day IS can sell up to 30.000 barrels, with black market price around $25-60, pocketing 2-3 million dollars. Middle men take care of the process, selling oil to local business beyond Turkey and to Assad regime itself. Assad and IS are “frienemy”, reaping benefit from the war economy and the status quo. Note that Al-Qaeda needed only 30 millions/ year to maintain its terrorist network and only 1 million to prepare for September 11.

2. Who created the IS?
Conspiracies: Israel (of course), Jews, the US
Reality check: The spiritual father of IS is none other than Wahhabism. IS has been funded by individuals and organizations from Saudi, Qatar and Kuwait who support an extreme version of Sunni Islam. 
Back in 1744, the Saud family and Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab swore a traditional Muslim oath in which they promised to work together to establish a state run according to puritanical Islamic principles. Politics and religions were married in a relationship which allowed both parties to secure power in the name of the one and the only "true Islam". Since then, the cancer of Wahhabi’s radicalism has taken root in the Kingdom, despite the King’s gradual reforms.
IS’s foreign soldiers come from various countries where Wahhabism has spread its extreme doctrine with oil money, converting mosques, putting imams on payrolls, stocking religious books, sponsoring young scholars to live and study in Saudi and then return home to teach Wahhabism and radicalize local believers.
All over the world, diverse Saudis networks and individuals have spent 70 billions to spread out its radical doctrine, according to David Kaplan. Saudi has funded more than 1500 mosques, 202 colleges, and 210 religion centers. How many of them are soaked with Wahhabism is an open question for us all. Osama bin Ladin himself came from a billionaire family in Saudi and used his fortune to set up Al-Qaeda networks of Sunni extremists. 
The IS, hence, is capable to take root on global scale much easier than we can imagine. Each jihadist returns will bring a seed of the IS. The most fertile ground is everywhere to find, as long as it is imbued with oil money from radical Wahhabist patronages in the Gulf.
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Bài Phương Mai mới viết cho BBC về IS. Để biết thêm về sự nguy hiểm của Wahhabism, bạn có thể tìm đọc thêm chương Saudi trong cuốn "Con Đường Hồi giáo" tôi vừa xuất bản.

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