Osama bin Laden’s Saudi Following

Osama Bin Laden may have lost his Saudi citizenship, but not his following at home. The last issue of DEBKA-Net-Weeklycarries a special survey of the master-terrorist’s fundamentalist Islamic roots in the oil kingdom and his current adherents. After all, at least nine of the 19 suicide hijackers who crashed their planes into the WorldTradeCenter on September 11 were Saudi nationals.
Osama bin Laden grew up in the uncompromising Saudi school known as the Salafiyya, which espouses a return to the lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad, negates all forms of cooperation between Muslim societies and the West and rejects Western culture absolutely. Bin Laden may have nailed the uprooting of the US presence in Saudi Arabia to his banner, but his ambitions have spread far beyond his homeland. His views, too, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s researchers, became in time too radical and militant even for his mentors in the puritanical Salafiyya, although some of his co-religionists are not quite sure of the doctrinal differences between his thinking and theirs.
In addition to support from exiled Saudi dissidents, bin Laden has followings in more than one circle inside the kingdom – chiefly the tribes related to him by kinship, particularly the Banu Magid clan of southeast Saudi Arabia, as well as in the holy city of Medina and the local Islamic university, always a hothouse of religious radicals. Those kinship ties, based on tribal identity, provide bin Laden with a network for enlisting al Qaeda adherents, transferring funds surreptitiously and prodding financial backers to contribute to nebulous “charity” organizations. That network also backs up the Saudi government in its refusal to hand over terrorist suspects for interrogation and trial in the United States.

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