October 30, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8340

Saudi Writer: Those Who Blame U.S. For ISIS Terrorism Disregard The Fact That For Years Millions Have Been Taught Extremism And Hatred For The West

October 30, 2019
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 8340

In its official responses to the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Saudi Arabia fully supported the U.S. and its policy, while stressing the strong alliance between the two countries. This was expressed, inter alia, in a conversation between Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and U.S. President Donald Trump, and in the Saudi Foreign Ministry statement on the topic.[1]

Conversely, many articles about Al-Baghdadi's death in the Saudi press directed criticism at the U.S., questioned the timing and character of the operation, and even accused the West of causing terror in the Middle East. Notable in this context was a polemic between Khaled Al-Suleiman, a columnist for the Saudi daily 'Okaz, who wrote an article titled "Has Al-Baghdadi's Role Ended?", and 'Abdallah bin Bakhit, an author and a columnist for the Al-Riyadh daily, who responded with an article titled "Has Al-Baghdadi's Role Ended, Sherlock?" Al-Suleiman wrote in his article that Al-Baghdadi was as an agent of the West, which assassinated him once he was no longer useful, and that the West was mostly responsible for the rise of terrorist organizations like ISIS. In his response article, Bin Bakhit rejected the conspiracy theories spread by many Arabs, which hold that outside forces, including the U.S., are responsible for Al-Baghdadi's terrorism, and accused Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world at large of cultivating the ideology of terrorist organizations and of figures like Al-Baghdadi and Osama bin Laden. He also complained about the support for Al-Baghdadi that prevailed in the Arab and Muslim public, and criticized the Arabs' and Muslims' disregard of their role in cultivating extremism, xenophobia, hostility to art and culture and the degradation of women in their societies.

'Abdallah bin Bakhit (left) and Khaled Al-Suleiman (right) (Sources:,   

The following are translated excerpts from their articles:

Khaled Al-Suleiman: The West Is Responsible For The Rise Of Terror Organizations; Al-Baghdadi Acted As Its Agent

In his October 28 article in 'Okaz, Khaled Al-Suleiman wrote: "American sources told media that the U.S. had acted to assassinate ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi [at this timing] for fear that all traces of him would be lost and they would be unable to act against him in the field since the U.S. forces were withdrawing from northern Syria. [They also said that] Al-Baghdadi and a number of extremist terrorists were under constant American surveillance!

"This reinforces the suspicions of those who think that Al-Baghdadi played a  role that was laid out [for him], whether voluntarily or for pay, and that, after he carried out what was required of him in Iraq, he was put on the backburner, with the aim of calling him back when needed. It is inconceivable that his location was unknown or that it was impossible to locate him in a narrow geographical area bursting with superpowers' intelligence activity!

"Al-Baghdadi's assassination reminds us of the assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In both instances, neither the man targeted nor his wives were spared, but terrorism still lives and its roots and those behind it have not been dealt with. Terrorism emerges only in a supportive environment, and [the existence of] this environment requires the West to take a look at itself in order to understand that it bears the most responsibility for the emergence of the terror organizations and for helping them to survive. It is impossible to separate terrorism from the elements of oppression that serve the extremist elements in recruiting [young activists], starting with the oppression of the Palestinian cause through the war of extermination in Syria to the occupation of Iraq and the sectarian shredding of its [society].   

"[Now,] as we await the rise of the new terrorist leader in the region, the West may complain about the terrorism and celebrate the murder of terrorists. But it cannot deny its responsibility for creating this terrorism and these terrorists!" [2]

Abdallah Bin Bakhit: Arabs And Muslims Avoid Admitting Their Role In Cultivating Terrorism And Extremism

Author and journalist 'Abdallah bin Bakhit responded to Al-Suleiman's article in his October 29 column in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh. He wrote: "In the weeks to come, the [entire Arab and Muslim] nation will become Sherlock Holmes: [We will witness] articles, commentary, and tweets [discussing] a single question, the answer to which Sherlock Holmes will seek: Is Al-Baghdadi's role over?...

"The Arab detective will not investigate Al-Baghdadi's death, nor the circumstances of his assassination, nor yet the impact his death will have on the future of the organization [i.e., ISIS]. He will also not invest effort in understanding the socio-ideological elements that caused the Arabs and Muslims to produce [from amongst themselves] figures like Al-Baghdadi and bin Laden, and [also to produce] criminal organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the 20th and 21st centuries.

"When Al-Baghdadi announced [the establishment of] the Caliphate, the number of people who praised it and wondered at it was greater than the number of skeptics – not to mention than [the number] who condemned [it]. However, when the zeitgeist and the triumph of reason [over emotions] began to work against Al-Baghdadi, those who dreamed of a caliphate began to back down and withdraw their absolute support [for him], in favor of [an approach of] 'our brothers have done us an injustice'[3] and ultimately of accusing him of [acting as] an agent [of foreign forces]. This even reached the point where [some claimed] that his name was [actually] Chaim the Jew, and [that he was] born in Israel and planted by the Mossad, Israel's intelligence apparatus.

"But this theory did not satisfy Mr. [Arab] Sherlock Holmes, and therefore he began investigating the Americans [and wondered] whether the U.S. was behind [Al-Baghdadi], as it was behind bin Laden. This [explanation] also did not satisfy Sherlock's intelligence, so he found a connection between Iran and Al-Baghdadi. This paved the way to accusing Turkey as well, and ultimately he concluded that Al-Baghdadi had been a prisoner in one of [Syrian President Bashar] Al-Assad's prisons [in Syria], had undergone training, and subsequently was freed so that he could establish the organization [i.e. ISIS]...

"All this is an attempt to avoid [recognizing] the role of us [Arabs and Muslims] in the creation and shaping of Al-Baghdadi's personality and ideology, until we reached the pinnacle called ISIS. We are completely ignoring [our] long years of encouragement of extremism and educating of millions of young Muslims to show enmity for culture, art, and the other. We have forgotten who changed the names of our children from Muhammad, 'Abdallah, and 'Adel to [the noms de guerre] Abu Al-Qa'qaa' and Abi Qutaiba.[4] We have forgotten who shaped [among us] young people who despise women and think that anyone who does not belong to them is their enemy. We have forgotten [our preaching about the Islamic principle of] 'loyalty [to Muslims and to Islam] and renunciation [of non-Muslims].'[5]

"If only Sherlock Holmes could expose the one who prompted a lad who was not yet 18 to travel to Kuwait and blow himself up [at a mosque] among worshipers[6] he did not even know..."[7]


[1] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), October 28, 2019; Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 29, 2019.

[2] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), October 28, 2019.

[3] A statement attributed to the Fourth Caliph, Ali bin Abi Taleb, who rose up against the Khawarij after they split off from the camp of his followers.

[4] A reference to names of recent prominent jihadis: Abu Al-Qa'qaa', an Al-Qaeda fighter in northern Syria, who recruited fighters to join the organization in Iraq, and Abu Qutaiba, a senior ISIS official who is currently in prison in Jordan.

[5] A reference to the Islamic principle of Al-walaa wa-al-baraa that is heavily emphasized by jihadis, who also declare all those who do not share their ideology to be infidels.

[6] Al-Bakhit is referring to the June 26, 2015 bombing, claimed by ISIS, of a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait during Friday Ramadan prayers. The bombing, carried out by a Saudi national, killed 27 worshipers.

[7] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 29, 2019.

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