RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s leading cleric said on Monday Saudis should not join jihad outside the kingdom, in a warning over Saudis going to fight U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
Media reports have said a significant number of Saudis have fought with Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
“Our youth have become a commodity bought and sold by (Middle) Eastern and Western agencies … they became tools carrying out heinous acts,” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Al al-Sheikh said in a religious edict, or fatwa, published on the official SPA news agency.
“I advise those with money to be careful about where it’s spent so it does not damage Muslims and I urge religious scholars and preachers to explain the truth and take young people by the hand so that they see the reality,” he said.
“I decided to say this after it was clear that over several years Saudis have been leaving for jihad. They did this because they are passionate about their religion but they are not wise enough to know right from wrong,” he said.
Interior Minister Prince Nayef told Saudi clerics earlier this year they should do more to stop youth going to Iraq. Al-Sheikh has warned against fighting abroad before, but this time the call was more direct.
Saudi Arabia has been embarrassed by the idea that Saudis have become fodder for suicide bomb attacks against civilians in Iraq and fear that militants could return to Saudi Arabia to wage their jihad against the Saudi government.
Al Qaeda-allied militants launched a violent campaign against the authorities in 2003, targeting government offices, foreign residents and energy-sector installations.
The government cracked down on charity funding, for fear that money is making its way to al Qaeda militants abroad.