Saudi Arabia had not and would not support or fund criminals who have unleashed a reign of terror in many areas of the region, said Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Responding to an article by David Gardner in The Financial Times of London, entitled, "Look beyond Saudi Arabia for Sunni leadership," Prince Mohammed said: "The writer?s extraordinary claim that Saudi Arabia is 'exporting tanker-loads of quasi-totalitarian religious dogma and pipelines of jihadi volunteers' is wrong."
He said Saudi Arabia had not and did not support or fund the murderers who have formed under the banner of the Islamic State. "We do not and have not supported or funded 'militant jihadism' of any kind," he said. "Indeed, we have stood firmly against it and urged the international community to stand with us."
Gardner wrote in his article that "Jihadi extremism does present a threat to the Kingdom, but in doctrinal terms it is hard to see in what way it deviates from Wahhabi orthodoxy, with its literalist and exclusivist rendering of Sunni Islam."
Prince Mohammed responded by asking what "Wahhabi orthodoxy" was. "We are not wahhabis, we are Muslims," he explained. "Wahhabism is a convenient label dreamt up by the media to describe extremist movements ranging from the Taleban in Afghanistan to the al-Qaeda network and now the terrorist ISIS in Iraq."
These movements did not even faintly correspond to the teachings of Sheikh Muhammad Abdul Wahab, who was a well-traveled, scholarly jurist of the 18th century, said the prince. He insisted that Muslims adhere to the values of the Holy Qur'an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which includes the maximum preservation of human life.
The ambassador reminded Saudi-bashers that the UN Counterterrorism Center was established in Riyadh with the financial support of $100 million from the Saudi government and that this year, the support had been increased by a further $100 million.
"We have been, and are, fighting extremism within our own borders daily, indeed hourly. Any and all Saudis found to be supporting or funding these murderous evil groups, which are outlawed in Saudi Arabia will be arrested," he said. Prince Mohammed said it was worth mentioning in the light of the current crisis that in 2003, before the war in Iraq, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal warned: "If change of regime comes with the destruction of Iraq, then you are solving one problem and creating five more problems."
Saudi nationals shared the ambassador's response on the social media and condemned the campaign of calumny against their country. "There is a vicious campaign against Saudi Arabia by the ill-informed Western media," said Seif M. Al-Qahtani, a blogger.
"It seems the Westerners are not reading what is appearing in our media and what is being said from the pulpits of our mosques. These ISIS terrorists are being disparaged by one and all for bringing a bad name to our pristine religion," Al-Qahtani added.