Trump and King Salman: An Alliance for Man


The summit, rather the summits that were and will be hosted by the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday, between the leading country in the world, the United States, and the leaders of the Gulf, Arab and Muslim worlds, are historic events with many connotations.

US President Donald Trump visited Riyadh at the invitation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman after the important files were prepared by Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in wake of his famous trip to Washington where he met with the US leader and American officials.

We are facing a historic moment indeed where the west, led by the major power, the US, will become deeply tied to the greatest global Muslim bloc against the plague of terrorism.

Yes, it is a global plague that is targeting the entire plant, not just a particular region. Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia had previously carried out evil operations in Mecca itself. An ISIS member also blew himself up in the al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

Trump with King Salman and Muslim and Arab leaders will inaugurate in Riyadh the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology.

This is a major and unprecedented development that reveals the depth of cooperation between the rational minds of the world.

Trump headed to the Kingdom, the land of holy sites, to declare with Muslim leaders a determination to defeat terrorism and the culture of hate.

This will be achieved through an alliance with Muslims against the gangs of evil. The war is not between the west and Muslims, as claimed by ISIS propaganda and Khomeini groups. It is battle between good and evil and light and darkness. The majority of Muslims support good and light against evil and darkness.

Saudi Arabia is an indispensable partner in cementing peace and combatting chaos and organizations of evil and death due to its importance in the Muslim world and its duty in defending Islam against those seeking to tarnish its image.

This Saudi duty in combatting extremist and terrorist groups is not new and it is not a reaction against ISIS and al-Qaeda operations, but the Kingdom has always been on the frontline of this defense.

Under the reign of founder King Abdulaziz, the Kingdom confronted religious extremists who raised their weapons against the state after political and cultural efforts failed in deterring their rebellion. As a result, the famous al-Sibla battle of 1929 took place between the Saudi state and local the “Brotherhood”. The reason of the modern state was victorious against the extremist rhetoric.

The year 1979 witnessed the Juhayman group’s occupation of Mecca’s Grand Mosque for two weeks.

In 2003, al-Qaeda kicked off its crimes against Saudi Arabia by bombing residential complexes in Riyadh. The diabolical series has continued since then. Saudi security, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, defeated al-Qaeda in the Kingdom, forcing it to move to Yemen and beyond.

Saudi Arabia remained however alone its fight against terrorism due to the west’s lax approach or political naiveté at the time.

Of course, another reason for its weakness in fighting terrorism during those years was the political deception exercised by regional countries, such as Iran and Syria, in order to exploit terrorism for their interests.

Let us examine the following incidents:

In February 2004, Prince Abdulaziz bin Bandar told the Saudi Okaz newspaper that the Kingdom will cooperate with all countries, starting with the US, in combatting terror.

The September 11 Commission later attested in 2004 that Saudi Arabia has become a fierce fighter of al-Qaeda.

In 2005, late King Abdullah urged the establishment of the international center for fighting terrorism, but his call fell on deaf ears. This frustrated the king, who expressed this disappointment about a month before his death. The United Nation had acknowledged on its website that it was possible in 2011 to establish the international center for fighting terrorism through a donation by the Saudi government.

In 2008, Riyadh and Washington signed a bilateral agreement on technical cooperation to combat terrorism. The deal calls for the US to provide consultants on security assistance and offer training of Saudi forces. The cooperation achieved success on the international scene.

The BBC reported at the time that Saudi Arabia was playing a pivotal role in the US campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In January 2015, US Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and the chief counterterrorism advisor to the President, Lisa Monaco, thanked former Saudi intelligence chief Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz for the Kingdom’s efforts in fighting terror. She underscored Riyadh’s role in maintaining regional peace and stability.

In December 2015, Saudi Arabia announced the Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism. The coalition aims at confronting terror in all of its forms and regardless of its sect or name.

In February 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was decorated with a US medal in recognition of his global efforts in combatting terrorism.

CIA director Mike Pompeo presented him with the medal and the Crown Prince said at the time that those trying to create division between Saudi Arabia and the US will fail.

“Fighting terrorism is a joint international responsibility,” he added.

Finally, and despite campaigns aimed at tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s role in the fight against terror, it will be hard to hide the facts, especially in the vital Saudi intelligence field. This is a position that was underlined by British Prime Minister Theresa May during the last Gulf summit in Bahrain.

Even the media is not considered a friend of Saudi Arabia. It even admits to it.

In April 2017, the National Interest magazine said the Trump administration should realize Saudi Arabia is vital in eliminating ISIS and al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. It later however questioned the credibility of this Saudi-US friendship.

In the end, honest and serious cooperation between Washington and Riyadh is the correct passage that will definitely lead to a solution. It is an alliance between the rational minds of the world, Muslims and non-Muslims, to establish peace and the dream.

From Atta’s Father to Hamahmy’s Father

The statement of the father of the Egyptian suspect in the Louvre attack, Abdullah Hamahmy, reminded me of that of Mohammed Atta’s father, one of the executors of the September 11 attacks.

The father, a former police officer, told it is impossible that his son who used to work at a legal consulting firm in Sharjah would harbor terrorist thoughts.

Gen. Ridha Rifai’i al-Hamahmy said his 29-year-old son is completely innocent and has evidence to support it.

During the interview, Hamahmy said that his son wore casual clothing and always listened to music. He added that Abdullah never had any political affiliations and didn’t follow any religious movement.

We hope the Egyptian young man is innocent. Who wouldn’t want that anyway? But it is hard to imagine that involvement in a shooting incident with Paris police, which Paris prosecutor’s office spoke of, is fictional.

The father’s sentiments are understandable, and his son may be innocent. But what is remarkable in his interview is his indication that Abdullah didn’t show signs of extremism or tendency to ISIS’ ideologies. Abdullah’s tweets revealed an ISIS mentality despite the father’s rejection that this account belongs to his son.

Nonetheless, two security sources had already confirmed to Reuters that the Egyptian Ministry of Interior received a confirmation from the Egyptian embassy in Paris that the suspect of the Louvre attack is an Egyptian national.

Going back to Mohammed Atta’s father, he was known for his denial of his son’s relations to al-Qaeda and the September 11 attacks. The father, who is also a lawyer, said that his son is a gentle sweet educated young man.

During an interview with a German newspaper, Atta said that his son is in a disclosed location to protect him from being killed by the U.S. secret intelligence.

This reveals the capabilities of the ISIS militant now, Qaeda back then, in hiding, deceiving and then attacking at the right moment.

Access to unsupervised social media, the main recruiting platform of terrorists, can be critical even if the loving eyes assumed it was seeing otherwise. Love could be the blindfold!

This is an important lesson to all parents.

Opinion: Agents Working For Iran

The Specialised Criminal Court in the Saudi capital Riyadh sentenced 15 people involved in an Iranian spy cell made up of 32 people to death yesterday. Two other people were acquitted and 15 other defendants were given prison sentences.

These sentences are provisional and are not final- they might be lightened or they may increase in severity. However, the questions here are: Do Iran’s rulers like the Saudi state today? Are they in a state of hostility or open war with Saudi Arabia in the region and the entire world? Does the Iranian plan “consider it shameful” to infringe on the sovereignty of states, recruit agents and establish terrorist networks?

Will the Revolutionary Guards, the leaders of Iranian terrorism, be unable to procure agents to work for them in Saudi Arabia, as they procured through their agents in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and of course, in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon?

What is the penalty for someone who provides serious information to the enemy, and here we mean the Iranian regime, compromises Saudi security and disrupts the armed forces by fishing for sensitive information about them? What is the penalty for a person who provides information that he is entrusted with through his work at a bank, government institution or a private one to the Revolutionary Guards?

This is explicit betrayal, and the penalty for treason is punishment of various degrees according to specific judicial evaluations. There are requirements that must be met; a fair judicial environment must be provided, the correct procedures must be followed and the defendant must be provided with all the facilities that they are entitled to in order to defend themselves. These are the rights of the defendant and not good will gestures.

The judicial system in Saudi Arabia gives these rights to defendants accused of being involved with ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and also gives them to defendants implicated in the Iranian regime’s activities. Most defendants work in the military corps and the diplomatic service. The Iranian spy cell consisted of 32 defendants; 30 of them were Saudi, one was Iranian and the other was Afghan. They were sentenced after 10 months of trials and 160 sessions in which around 100 lawyers were involved. In addition to this, the sentences are not final.

The cell was apprehended in 2013 in an operation that was concurrently carried out in four areas of Saudi Arabia: Makkah, Medina, Riyadh and the Eastern Province.

I want to say that we must be alert about an important issue; the presence of Saudi traitors and agents working for the Iranian regime is a specific issue and we must not accuse those linked to these people, for example Shiites, of being traitors. The only people who are guilty of being traitors are those who have been sentenced of this crime. Just as there are traitors who are loyal to Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of their countries, there are traitors who are loyal to the Iranian regime in Saudi Arabia.

Traitors will be held accountable but we must be aware of taking revenge and launching a witch hunt.

Opinion: War on Sunni Arabs

What we see today in Iraq and Syria is not in the favour of Sunni Arabs. We will not talk about Khomeinist Iran because it is an adversary and tries hard to harm the Arabs and Sunnis. Neither will we talk about Russia, who is like Iran but has different motives.

We are talking about President Barack Obama’s lost administration- the disease of all diseases and the source of great damage. This administration has destroyed stability in the Middle East for the last five years.

The Obama administration is planting ticking bombs that are dangerous to the future of not just the Arab region but also the Islamic one and the whole world. The administration has also dragged Europe into this. The bombs will be capable of exploding even after Obama’s departure from the White House, and perhaps will turn him into a political activist, or, to put it frankly, a promoter of Iran, the beginning of which can be seen in Obama’s dialogue with The Atlantic.

Obama has deluded some Europeans into thinking that the only problem in the region is fighting ISIS, that this is the only criterion for political action in our countries and that the Russians and the Iranians have the same criterion, whether that is right or wrong. The purpose is to write off every other political issue. From here we understand the “abortion” of the political transition in Syria and the focus on the fight against ISIS which is a matter that made the Americans risk their relationship and NATO’s fundamental relationship with Turkey by uniting with Kurdish terrorist groups, according to Ankara.

This outright aggression against Arabs and Sunnis is not imaginary, rather it is reality. It is not just the Sunni opinion, but also the opinion of elite Arab writers who are not Sunni.

A few days ago, I read two articles; one that was published in Asharq Al-Awsat and the other in Al-Hayat. The first was written by my friend Eyad Abu Shakra and was published in this newspaper. An expression that Abu Shakra, an expert in the history and sociology of the Levant, used grabbed my attention. He wrote “What we see in front of us is an actual war on Sunni Arabs that will end with a new map for the Middle East…They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”.

The second article was by the Lebanese author and intellectual Hazem Saghieh and was published in the Al-Hayat newspaper. He said “The facts are so strong that we cannot ignore them. What is between Qassem Soleimani and Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi and that is being disguised in a thousand ways in Fallujah, and the central presence of the Kurds in Manbij is exposing Sunni Arabs to a huge massacre”.

When the world abandoned the Syrian people to the benefit of Iran and Russia, out came ISIS. One wonders what will later emerge from the new rage’s womb and from international harmony!

Opinion: The Deranged EgyptAir Hijacker and Insane Capitol Gunman

During the course of a few days, a series of events causing alarm have taken place around the world. These events imitate terrorist acts.

There was an incredibly tense atmosphere in the American capital Washington DC after a man who tried to enter the US Capitol with a gun was shot. In addition to this, a person climbing the fences of the White House prompted it to elevate the threat level to orange. Around the same time, the Times Square in New York was closed due to a suspicious package that turned out to be a rubbish bag.

In another part of the world, an Egyptian man described by Cypriot and Egyptian authorities as mentally unstable and who has criminal convictions relating to fraud in Egypt hijacked a plane that was supposed to be flying from Alexandria to Cairo so that he could divert it to Larnaca in Cyprus. It appears that the man wanted reconciliation with his Cypriot wife and her children. It has also been said that he requested to meet European Union officials. After that, Egyptian security sources announced that Cairo airport had postponed an EgyptAir flight to New York because of security concerns linked to the hijacked plane.

That was in Egypt. On the other side of the world, in Holland, the crisis at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam ended after it came to light that news of a passenger plane arriving from Spain being hijacked was false.

The man who triggered chaos at the US Capitol turned out to be a crazy pastor named Larry Dawson who had previously disrupted Congress last October when he shouted that he was a “prophet of God”. This time, he brandished a “pellet” gun and was shot by police. Likewise, the explosive belt of the EgyptAir hijacker turned out to be fake.

These events mix seriousness with amusement, laughter with tears and life with death. It seems that the succession of news, pictures and coverage of terrorist acts carried out by ISIS all around the world make it seem feasible to imitate these acts and have awakened the determination of some insane people in the world who need psychiatric care, to “borrow” this method to achieve both conceivable and inconceivable purposes.

The danger of such events is that they prevent people from leading normal lives, harm the interests of ordinary people and lead to worry and concern. Unfortunately, tension engulfs the whole world due to real terrorism and events like the EgyptAir hijacking and the US Capitol disruption that imitate it.

Perhaps with the passing of time, the world and the societies within it will live with the reality that real and fake terrorism has become a part of life which is wearisome for a number of reasons.

Opinion: Aden responds to Vienna

Last week’s capture of Aden by Yemeni government loyalists has provided the best response to the nuclear deal which US President Barack Obama and the West gifted to Khomeneist Iran on July 14 in Vienna.

Anti-Houthi forces, known as the Popular Resistance, have wrested control of the strategic southern city of Aden, adopting a new strategy and depending on advanced military support from Arab coalition forces. Aden’s international airport and strategic districts have fallen into the hands of government loyalists and forces aligned with President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi thanks to the coalition’s unfaltering support and perseverance.

Houthi militants and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh lost Aden at the same time Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was flashing smiles at journalists in Vienna last week.

No wise person would object to the lifting of an economic blockade on any nation or state, let alone a Muslim and neighboring country such as Iran, which boasts a gifted population and a majestic past. One can object, however, to the way in which the West has approached the Iranian problem. The West has sealed the deal with Iran without realizing the existential threat which the ideology of its rulers poses to the Middle East. What would be even worse is if the West does indeed realize these threats but is “experimenting” with new policies in the region.

Lebanese political leader Walid Jumblatt announced the “end of the Arab world” following the nuclear deal in Vienna. But a Saudi official commented on the deal by saying that the Kingdom has always called for a nuclear deal with Iran that would ensure it cannot obtain nuclear weapons in any way. Saudi Arabia believes Iran should take advantage of its resources to achieve domestic development and improve the living conditions of its people instead of destabilizing the region, a policy which will be met with decisive responses from other regional countries.

John Boehner, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, said of the agreement: “Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world.”

Arabs have no problem with the boring, technical remarks about uranium enrichment and centrifuges reiterated by Western officials. Nor do they object to Zarif’s smiles. In fact, the real problem lies in the nature of the mentality of Iran’s rulers and the money that will flood into the coffers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which will definitely cause more destruction and strife in our countries. The problem lies in the way the Iranian regime thinks. The following is a sample from the Iranian constitution:

The fifth paragraph of the second article stipulates “belief in the Imams (imamat), [its] continuous leadership, and its fundamental role in the continuity of the Islamic Revolution.” The sixteenth paragraph of the third article calls for “the organization of the nation’s foreign policy based on Islamic criteria, fraternal commitment to all Muslims, and unrestrained support for the impoverished people of the world.”

“Impoverished” in this context means followers of Iran. To put it more candidly, the constitutional article calls for funding and arming militias loyal to Iran within Arab and Muslim countries.

Arabs will fight for their countries. As for Washington and the European capitals, they will soon realize the consequences of their Iranian adventure.

Opinion: The Rapid Spread of ISIS

One of the differences between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) lies in the way members join each of these ultra-radical groups.

Those wishing to join Al-Qaeda are often exposed for a long period of time to the writings of the group’s ideologues. The process would take several years before recruits are no longer content with the mission of merely calling for “jihad.”

However, with ISIS recruitment is much easier—but more dangerous. An ISIS member could be someone who had no Islamist links weeks or even a few days before joining the radical group. An ISIS recruit could be a normal youth who supports, say, Real Madrid or FC Barcelona, or a fan of pop stars. Such recruits usually go unnoticed by state security until they detonate themselves or engage in a shooting spree, taking by surprise official bodies who fail to predict their activities, particularly what they say on social media.

Two such examples are Seifeddine Rezgui, the Tunisian criminal who carried out the Sousse beach massacre, and Fahd Suleiman Abdul Mohsen Al-Qaba’a, the 23-year-old Saudi national who attacked the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait.

Rafik Chelli, senior Tunisian security official, said the perpetrator of the Sousse attack was a university student who “had no criminal record.” The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement that Qaba’a was born in 1992 and was not previously involved in any terror-related activities.

This means that ISIS poses a hidden danger whose elimination requires from all those concerned, whether governmental or civilian organizations, in Muslim and non-Muslim countries to take preemptive measures against potential ISIS members.

How can this be achieved while these murderers continue to escape the state radar?

One solution is to split potential murderers into two groups: those under state surveillance, and those who have escaped the state radar. As for the former group, governments should step up monitoring and restrictions on their movements.

One way of dealing with the latter group may be to increase the online monitoring of the writings and activities of the ideologues of terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Al-Nusra Front, in addition to holding those authors accountable. While this would not completely eliminate the spread of ISIS and Al-Qaeda and their culture of killing and takfirism (declaring people infidels), it would swiftly and firmly counter the threats they pose.

ISIS poses a threat to the entire world and thus could be one of the rare causes that lead to the unification of global policies.

Every day that passes without encircling the culture that has produced ISIS and Al-Qaeda brings the world a step closer to annihilation.

Opinion: The fight against terrorism is our war

The United Arab Emirates has given, through law, a practical lesson after its Federal Supreme Court sentenced to death Alaa Al-Hashemi, the woman known as the Al-Reem Island ghost, who stabbed to death an American woman at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall last December. The court rejected claims that Hashemi suffers from psychological problems, instead providing evidence that she was radicalized online.

Does anyone still doubt that “all” Arabs and Muslims are involved in an existential war with armed extremist groups?

We all saw what happened in Egypt on Monday, when the country’s prosecutor-general was killed by a car bomb. The assassination coincided with the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood.

And now, while you are reading this article, Egypt is fighting a war with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in North Sinai.

After the criminal attack that targeted Shi’ite citizens at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque, Kuwait decided to follow a new path, declaring an all-out war on armed extremists—whether belonging to ISIS or not—and taking a series of procedures, including strict legislations.

Following the criminal beach attack in Sousse, Tunisia has also has entered into an open war with armed religious groups. President Beji Caid El-Sebsi has said the country will take strong measures in response to the attack. Even in Britain Prime Minister David Cameron said in recent days ISIS poses “an existential threat” to the West.

But we need to see the big picture, not just the minor details. The problem is in no way limited to a specific country. It goes far beyond country-specific problems, such as the removal of Egypt’s Islamist former president Mohamed Mursi; the sectarian behavior of Abdul Hameed Dashti and Walid Al-Tabtabai, two Kuwaiti MPs; Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s time in office; secret plots against Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda Movement in Tunisia; or the conduct of the British police as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) apologists claim.

All these details limit our vision because the problem is much deeper and bigger. It lies in the “mentality” that dominates the consciousness of ordinary Muslims, young and old, and the Sunni and Shi’ite sheikhs who instigate sedition in society.

To put it differently, I acknowledge that each country has its own political circumstances and that several intelligence agencies are recruiting some Islamist groups, with or without their knowledge, to target their enemies in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the bigger picture: the fundamental flaw in the culture that produces the fighters and supporters of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Brotherhood. This flaw is the source of the entire misfortune which has been left uncured.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said during the funeral procession of prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat that Egypt is fighting a war with a despicable enemy, and despite a weak legal system. Therefore, he added, Egypt must introduce legal reforms to cope with the threat of terrorism.

Kuwait’s interior minister said in recent days his country was facing a real war and that it was seeking to introduce new legislation and policies to enable it to fight terrorists and those who look up to them.

Declaring war on those groups will reduce a heavy cost that could be caused by laxity and procrastination. It is a war we have delayed for far too long.

Opinion: Burning the Books of Hassan Al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb

There have been insistent demands for the renewal of religious discourse in several Muslim countries, including Egypt, which is known as “the Mother of the World” and home to the Al-Azhar university, its highest religious authority.

Ever since the toppling of Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which led to a surge in terrorist attacks and pro-Brotherhood propaganda campaigns, there has been much talk about the need for religious reform, whether inside or outside Egypt. The discourse the Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) employ to recruit people is based on specific religious texts and Islamic Shari’a concepts that lost touch with reality a long time ago.

Although easier said than done, asking Al-Azhar clerics to reform and revolutionize the Islamist discourse, as Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi recently did, is not enough. The problem of religious discourse is too divergent and therefore solving it should involve several factors, most importantly addressing issues such as collective psyche and upbringing. The solution lies in revisiting the religious concepts and ideas people were brought up upon. Similar attempts have been done by many of the great Muslim scholars in Iraq, Egypt, and Andalusia.

It is understood that in such uncertain circumstances it is difficult to find the right point of departure for bringing about religious change and reform. Last week, Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments ordered mosques to remove from their shelves books that encourage extremism, particularly those authored by Brotherhood leaders. According to the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa has ordered the burning of all the books written by clerics who incite violence, such as Hassan Al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

There is no doubt about the corruption of the Brotherhood’s ideology; however, does burning a few books constitute a real and effective solution? Those books must be available elsewhere outside Egypt and on the Internet. Moreover, some sides are spending millions on on their publication. This is not to mention that thousands of the Brotherhood’s disciples reiterate Qutb and Banna’s ideas in a way that makes them more attractive and appealing to a 21st-century audience, using state-of-the-art technology. Burning books cannot be the solution despite the fact that the close monitoring of mosques is among the duties of the ministries of religious endowments. However, governments should adopt a more comprehensive and sustainable plan that affects all aspects of life.

A few years ago I asked an Arab information minister about the purpose of banning books, since they are available online. He answered: “We know those books are available online but by banning them we would be registering a position and sending a political message.”

What really need to be burned are the extremist ideas that control the public conscience, not mere words on paper.

Ibn Hazm, the Andalusian Imam, responded to the burning of his books by saying:

Even if you burn the paper, you will not burn what
The paper contains, for it is in my heart

In fact, the problem is in what the hearts contain not what books say.

Opinion: Khalid Al-Fawwaz and the Problem of Terrorism

On Friday the New York Federal Court sentenced Khalid Al-Fawwaz, a suspect in the deadly 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, to life in prison.

It took 16 years after the crime was committed to issue the sentence against Fawwaz, who for a while was the subject of a legal and political debate between Britain, where he lived, and the US, which insisted that he be extradited to Washington in order to be sentenced. Eventually, Fawwaz was sent to the US, and now he has been duly sentenced.

Prior to his involvement in the bombings of the US embassies, Fawwaz was Osama Bin Laden’s spokesman in London. At the time, Bin Laden presented himself as a pro-reform political activist through his London-based Advice and Reform Committee, a mere façade for his terrorist activities, exploiting the then-fashionable buzzwords, “opposition” and “political reform.” Later, the reality of the committee became apparent to British authorities, including the House of Lords, Britain’s highest judicial body.

The sentencing of Fawwaz serves as a fresh reminder that religiously inspired terrorism has been a chronic problem for a long time, even before all the recent events that have taken place in our region—from the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Arab Spring of 2011, down to Operation Decisive Storm launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015 against the Houthis in Yemen.

It is a problem that relates first and foremost to culture before the political and economic situation. Two reasons are responsible for the exacerbation of this phenomenon, whose most prominent manifestation came with the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): First, the imbalance of power in the Arab world caused by the Western-backed wave of turmoil, dubbed the Arab Spring. Second, the ease of communication and interaction through social media.

However, this should not divert our attention from the root of the problem, namely the flawed condition of the prevailing thought and the lack of critical engagement with the main concepts that dominate and form the extremist ideology, which serves as the foundation on which terrorists base their actions. Such concepts include Al-Hakimiyyah (divine rule), Al-Jahiliyya (ignorance of divine guidance), the velayat-e faqih (the guardianship of the jurists), Islamic government, Kufr (disbelief), apostasy, and the caliphate.

All minor and major events related to the phenomenon of religiously inspired terror—from the collapse of nation states to the drawing of cartoons derisive of Islam—are mere windows for the emergence of extremism but not of course the authors of such acts.

The two versions of terrorism committed in the name of Islam—that is, the Shi’ite and Sunni varieties—feed into each other. Confronting them, in equal measures, represents a major task facing Arab politicians and an end indispensable to their work in general. This is why the Gulf States sought to emphasize this approach at the recent Camp David summit with Barack Obama.

In a recent interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said the Obama administration and the representatives of the Gulf states had discussed three main points of action at Camp David: “First, consolidating military cooperation; second, countering terrorism; and third, dealing with the challenges, foremost among them Iran’s interference in the region’s affairs.”

This is the right approach. In order to remove ISIS’s raison d’être, Iran’s Khomeinist regime should be eliminated. On the other hand, in order for Khomeneist propaganda to be broken, ISIS must be destroyed. This is a purely practical need before being a moral obligation.

What remains after these obstacles are removed is the ideology of terror itself; in essence it concerns one’s reasoning, upbringing, and culture. The rest is just details.