Against the backdrop of the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the spread of its forces in Iraq and Syria, the Saudi media has published a number of articles presenting conspiracy theories, including that the U.S. created ISIS in order to harm Sunni Muslims and plunder their resources; to assure the continued flow of oil from Iraq and the Gulf to the U.S. and Europe, in light of Iran's threats to disrupt it; to spread chaos and division in the Arab world; to shift the arena of the international fight against terrorism from the U.S. to Iraq; and to redraw the map of the region in a way that will serve the interests of the U.S. and will facilitate its control of it.
Also published were articles rejecting these conspiracy theories, claiming that such theories are part of psychological operations by various intelligence apparatuses, and that the extremist ideologies disseminated within Saudi Arabia are what gave rise to ISIS.
The following are translated excerpts from a number of these articles in the Saudi press:
Saudi Columnist: ISIS Fighters Are Mercenaries Of The U.S. Who Serve U.S. Aims
Ibrahim Ma'touq 'Assas, columnist for the Saudi government daily Al-Madina, wrote that the U.S. had created ISIS to further its own interests, which he said was why the group was so strong militarily that even powerful countries were having a hard time fighting it:
"After long years in which the world was perturbed by the so-called Al-Qaeda, which former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton said was a product of the U.S., the day has come in which the world, and particularly the Arab region, are perturbed by the so-called ISIS and its offshoots. Everyone is talking about it. Military miracles are attributed to it, and people are claiming that it is taking over regions one after the other, conquering cities, besieging capitals, taking prisoners, killing, and destroying everything. It and what its members are doing are reported on in the [media] channels... Can it be that hundreds, even thousands, of fighters, coming together from every corner of the earth - or intentionally brought together in intelligence operations - are capable, with the simple and limited military knowhow that they possess, if any, of attaining the military achievements attributed to them - [achievements] that even countries with plenty of aircraft, tanks, and deadly weapons cannot manage?!
"People are [trying to] persuade the world that ISIS has done all this: it is fighting Syria, racking up triumphs, occupying cities, slaughtering and skinning [people], and entering Iraq and taking 70% of its territory within a week. All the operations linked to ISIS are attributed to Islam, which is innocent of all [these] inhuman crimes and acts. What is most amazing is that the battles of ISIS are pitched against other Islamic groups and are fought in Arab Islamic countries. What kind of naive idiot would believe that these are Islamic groups, not pawns created by the international intelligence [apparatuses], in which regional intelligence organizations might [even] be participating?
"...It makes no sense [that these deeds attributed to ISIS and its ilk] would be carried out by any Muslim who knows the least of his duties towards a soul that Allah has forbidden him to kill [that is, another Muslim]. This means that we are facing mercenaries who are playing a specific destructive role for the enemies of the ummah. The wise men of this ummah must understand the plots that are being formed against it and take steps to protect the achievements of our countries - much as [Saudi] King Abdallah bin 'Abd Al-Aziz did, when the [real] aims of the Arab Spring were exposed and the destruction was realized.
"With regard to ISIS-shmisis, we must not rule out the possibility that the day will come when an American official will declare that [the U.S.] created ISIS so that it could carry out [every possible] loathsome deed, and that this was done in order to preserve U.S. interests and thus protect the lives of its soldiers and sacrifice other peoples. These stupid movies bearing the names of ISIS and other [organizations] will never end. Actually, the role of one [organization] will end, and new ISIS organizations will be secretly established that will be called by names that would never occur to any Muslim..."
Article On Saudi Website: U.S. Created ISIS To Harm Sunnis And Ensure Flow Of Oil To The West
In his column on the liberal Saudi website elaph.com, Iraqi journalist Jawad Ghaloum claimed that the U.S. had created ISIS in order to harm Sunni Muslims and to divide the region, so as to allow it to be easily controlled and ensure the flow of oil from Iraq and the Gulf states to it and Europe, in light of Iranian threats to disrupt it:
"ISIS is a clearly an inimitable American product, like the fantastical movies... that Hollywood creates in its studios. Anyone who believes that ISIS was created by the Gulf states and is funded by massive petrodollar capital is sorely mistaken, since the [countries in the region, both] near and far, could not invent such an amazing and truly impressive pawn, [which was created] with imagination that surpasses all logic and illogic.
"... ISIS is no beggar, and needs no Gulf petrodollar support. It has a much greater fortune: the treasures of the U.S. and its Hollywood imagination, [with which] it motivates a gaggle of fighters and gathers them from all over to play on the strings of the 'Sunni region.' [ISIS] is exploiting marginalized, unwanted people from what is left of the Ba'th [party], people who have been struck blind and lost their judgment, and foreigners who arrived en masse from around the world, to take the first step towards dividing [the region]. [This will] begin in Iraq, which will be divided into three parts to facilitate controlling it and to impose plans for division and dismantling there, so as to create a new Middle East in line with Yankee wishes.
"Today, the U.S. seeks to ensure the continued existence of the strategic oil reserves in Iraq and the Gulf. [The U.S.] will stop at nothing, even using ISIS methods, to realize its aspiration of sucking every last drop [of oil] from this massive reserve. And who [if not ISIS] can promise the U.S. that it will get what it wants when faced with the Iranian rhinoceros, which has awakened and begun to produce non-conventional weapons, with its nuclear reactors that terrify the U.S. and EU? Because [Iran] could one day rise, tie [a rope] around the U.S.'s neck and strangle it, tightening the noose around it in the Strait of Hormuz."
Saudi Writer: ISIS's Creation Aimed At Shifting International Terror Threat From U.S. To Iraq
Saudi writer Hamdi Bashir wrote in the official Saudi daily Al-Madina that the U.S. established ISIS in order to transform Iraq into a hotbed of terrorist activity, thus shifting the security threat from U.S. soil to Iraq. He also claimed that the U.S. is using terrorism to destabilize the region and re-divide it in order to ensure that the U.S.'s regional allies maintain control:
"Many analysts in the West and East [the Arab world] do not disagree that terrorism was clearly created by the U.S. In truth, it is part of the tactics of the intelligence apparatuses and national security mechanisms meant to indirectly harm rivals, destabilize [the region], carry out plots to overthrow [existing] regimes, divvy up countries to redraw the regional map in a way that ensures the hegemony of their regional allies, eliminate any rising regional force, impose a certain political agenda, or influence the position of the country under attack.
"When the U.S. was in Iraq, Washington enabled [ISIS] to grow, to the point where Iraq became a central breeding ground for the rise of these extremist groups, especially after the U.S. military withdrew. This prepared the Iraqi arena, and the region, for a war against terrorism - thus exporting the U.S.'s security crisis of global terrorism outside of its own soil..."
Saudi Journalist: Even If ISIS Is A Foreign Plot, Fighting It Is Up To Us
In his column in the official Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, prominent Saudi journalist 'Abdallah bin Bakhit downplayed the claim that ISIS was the result of a plot by the U.S., Zionism, Iran, or any other foreign element, and stressed that even if this were true, Saudis still had a responsibility to combat it. He criticized the extremist content in the educational curricula and the media in the kingdom, which he said prepares the ground for the absorption of ISIS's message and ideology by young people:
"What do we stand to gain by blaming the West, Zionism, the Freemasons, or the Templars for the rise of ISIS? Even if we are certain that ISIS is a Western plot, does that absolve us of responsibility? Even if we discover that our problems are the result of an America, Zionist, or Safavid [Iranian] plot, their solution will still be our responsibility, no one else's...
"Some people say that the U.S. created Al-Baghdadi and several [global jihad] commanders. Others say that Iran created them, and still others say it was the Bashar Al-Assad government. In any event, what concerns us is not Al-Baghdadi, since he and the other ISIS leaders are beyond our grasp, and we can merely curse them, condemn them, and express our hatred of them.
"Al-Baghdadi has succeeded in establishing a force of strong, dedicated fighters. He didn't create them, they are not his sons, they are not his tribesmen, and they are neither Zionists nor liberals. [So] who are they? And Al-Baghdadi does not have widespread apparatuses that can reach into schools, universities, and Koran memorization schools in order to influence people and lure them into fighting with him. Al-Baghdadi is not an historic leader, nor does he have an [illustrious] past in which the ummah can take pride and that has an impact on young people. He emerged suddenly out of nowhere. [But even] if we can't control Al-Baghdadi and the CIA, we can control these soldiers that Al-Baghdadi attracts and lures into working with him.
"Who created them, trained them, placed them in [Al-Baghdadi's] path as easy prey, and enabled the U.S. and Zionism to exploit them?... Who is it that emotionally and culturally prepared them to not only welcome [Al-Baghdadi's] invitation [to fight], but to also be willing to easily lay down their lives for him? This is the aspect that concerns us. The plot is the conditions taken advantage of by the conspirator in order to enter our [territory]. Who is preaching sectarian content [to our young people]? Are the sectarian [television] channels that are being revived in our surroundings and in our lands - and I am referring only to Saudi Arabia - funded by the American, Zionist, or Safavid conspirator, or by a bank that charges interest? Is the director [of those channels] American? Is the program host a Zionist or a liberal?
"Who is running this tactical mechanism from within Saudi Arabia? Is it Al-Baghdadi, the CIA, Zionism, or liberal journalists? If we answer this honestly - and we all know the answer - then the plot will cease to exist, and the efforts of the Americans and Zionists will fail."
Former Iraqi Ambassador To U.S.: The Claim That The U.S. Established ISIS Is Patently False
Writing in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, former Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Al-Sumaidaie dismissed the theory that ISIS was established by the U.S., saying that his own research showed that the claim that former secretary of state Clinton had acknowledged that the U.S. was behind ISIS was false, and speculated that the claim was part of psychological warfare on the part of various intelligence apparatuses:
"In the torrent of [my] email messages, I received one titled '[Hillary] Clinton: We Established ISIS'... I read a few lines, which said: 'In her book Hard Choices, former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton dropped a significant bomb by acknowledging that the American administration had established the criminal gangs of ISIS in order to divide up the Middle East region.'
"At that time, I did not finish reading the message, because it stank of fabrication, and I deleted it. As Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., I maintained ties with Hillary Clinton from her time in the Senate and through her term as secretary of state, and I attended many meetings on matters having to do with Iraq. At that time, I worked not only with state department officials, but with other important people and institutions, such as the national security advisor, the White House, the Pentagon, etc.
"I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if such statements had appeared in Clinton's book, they would have sparked chaos in the U.S. long before doing so in Iraq. [This is] because the press here [in the U.S.] is usually informed about politicians' books even before readers are. It eagerly seeks out sensational stories - and could anything be more sensational than [the claim] that the U.S. established a terrorist organization like ISIS? However, just to be sure, I went to the nearest book store, purchased Hard Choices, and took it [home] to read it and remove any shadow of doubt.
"I read the sections of the book concerning Egypt, Iraq, Syria, The Muslim Brotherhood, and the Arab Spring, and found nothing that had even the most tenuous connection to that [email] message. I discovered that it was a pure lie without a shred of truth.
"The obvious question is: Who is behind this phenomenon of fabricating news stories? We know that the intelligence apparatuses of several countries have departments specializing in media deception and spreading rumors - so called 'disinformation.' This is because today's wars and conflicts are waged not just with military weapons, but also with information and lies, and because psychological warfare is an important aspect of traditional warfare. Those who 'produce' these lies are professionals who are well aware that some people will expose them as lies, but they pay them no mind. They rely on the fact that [the lies] are spread in part, and accepted, by some people, who might be very numerous - especially if [the lies] are in line with their ideology - and gradually will become undisputed facts, as far as they are concerned."
Saudi Columnist: We, Not The U.S., Created ISIS
Similarly, London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Amal 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Hazzani claimed that Saudi Arabia, and not the U.S., had created ISIS, and added that the organization is deeply rooted in Saudi culture and heritage. She wrote:
"Some claim that ISIS is an American product. This is a claim that eases the conscience. It is [indeed] good that we have a wall to hide behind in order to conceal our shameful ideology.
"But the problem is that ISIS is not Coca-Cola, a hamburger, or a car. [Its] ideas and behavior are raw materials that are locally grown, and are hard to produce outside their [natural] environment. Every day since the ISIS forces appeared in Mosul last summer, evidence has been piling up to support the fact that the roots of this terrorist organization, which we see far away in Iraq and Syria, are deep and widespread in our own culture and heritage - that is, it was not created out of thin air...
"There is no point in developing theories regarding its terrorism and risks, when among [our own] decision-makers and legislators in official bodies there those who lean towards zealotry and extremism. [Therefore,] it is shameful to proceed to accuse the U.S. of creating ISIS. It is we who created ISIS, and if the West has used it against us, as they claim, then it is our own goods that are being sent back to us."
 Since August 2014, there have been reports in the Arab media that in her book Hard Choices Clinton acknowledged that the U.S. had created ISIS in order to divide the Middle East. See for example Al-iraqnews.net/new, August 6, 2014, and Eremnews.com, August 7, 2014.
 Al-Madina(Saudi Arabia), June 29, 2014.
 Elaph.com, June 28, 2014.
 Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), September 8, 2014.
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 5, 2014.
 Al-Hayat (London), August 13, 2014.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 25, 2014.