Sorry, my mistake

Last week, I received an email from Mr. Mahmoud S. Aziz who was touched by my memories of Marawi in the late 60’s. In that column (“Marawi, Marawi!”), I mentioned that His Highness, the Aga Khan was the guest of honor and speaker at an anniversary of the Aga Khan, Museum of Islamic Art; Mr. Aziz was kind enough to send me a copy of that memorable speech which I summarized in last Thursday’s column (“The Aga Khan in Marawi”). That was where I made this terrible mistake and I am grateful that Mr. Aziz brought it to my attention immediately.

I had summarized the Aga Khan’s speech and in point 7. I erroneously attributed Mr. Aziz’s own observations and comments about the Wahhbi/Salafi influence in the Philippines to the Aga Khan. Mr. Aziz wrote me this message: “I respectfully bring to your attention that point 7 of your article about the Wahhbi/Salafi influence in the Philippines are actually my thoughts and comments and NOT from His Highness, the Aga Khan’s speech. In my email you will note the quotation marks of his speech end just before I made my comments. I would be grateful if you can clarify this to your readers as I do not want  the Aga Khan misquoted since this can have significant ramifications for him.” That would indeed be terrible, Mr. Aziz, forgive me for not being more careful.

Under separate cover, Mr. Aziz sent me an interesting article, “How Hundreds of Saudi Joined ISIS in the US (For immediate release. Contact Ali AlAhmed) dated 1 June 2017, from Washington, DC.

The press release said that the Institute for Gulf Affairs “ is issuing an exclusive investigative report on one of the biggest terrorist threats against the United States homeland.” Titled “From American College Campuses to ISIS Camps, How Hundreds of Saudis Joined ISIS in the US.” The report describes how in the past three years hundreds of Saudi nationals living in the USA have joined the ISIS and similar groups. Approximately 400 Saudi and Kuwati nationals mostly on government scholarships have joined the ISIS and other groups;some of the recruits have dual citizenships. According to the Gulf Institute report: “They are among the nearly 80,000 Saudi students and family members who are currently in the United States.”

The above-mentioned report also contains names, photographs, and details “obtained exclusively by the Institute investigators working since 2014, through various methods” and “reveals how Saudi Arabia blocked this information from US authorities and did little to stop the flow of Saudis in the US from joining ISIS and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq. This was reflected in Pres. Donald Trump’s excluding Saudi Arabia from his first and second executive orders to ban citizens of 7 countries from entering the United States for 90 days.”

The Gulf Institute also report that “Saudi nations are the number one ISIS recruits from within the United States” and that Saudi officials may have played a role “in blocking information on Saudi terrorist recruits in the United States.” According to the report, even before the 11 September attacks carried out by 15 Saudi nationals, more than 15,000 of them had joined the AlQaeda, ISIS,  and “sisters” in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. “They constitute the largest foreign nationality in ISIS.”

Interestingly, the report also tackles the failure of American intelligence and the lack of coordination among federal agencies. (That sounds all too familiar!)

According to Wikipedia, the Institute of Gulf Affairs, formerly the Saudi Institute, is a human rights advocacy group and think tank that monitors politics and education in the Middle East. Ali AlAhmed, a Saudi Arabian scholar, critic of the Saudi monarchy, is its founder and director. The mailing address of the Institute of Gulf Affairs is: 1900 L St. NW Suite 309, Washington,  DC, 20036, USA.