WASHINGTON – Three months after the attacks in Paris by ISIS jihadists traced to Molenbeek, Belgium, the Belgian ambassador to Saudi Arabia met with the secretary general of the Muslim World League to discuss how to help Belgium’s universities and cultural institutions “clarify the pure image of Islam,” according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Muslim World League leader, Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen al-Turki, told Ambassador Geert Criel the Islamic organization is ready to work with official Belgium institutions “which attach great importance to Muslim communities.”
But after last week’s attacks at Belgium’s international airport and a subway stop, a new spotlight is being placed on the Mecca-based Muslim World League and its influence in Belgium and throughout Western Europe.
The MWL’s influence in Brussels, Belgium’s capital, is especially noteworthy since the city is the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the capital of the European Union.
A G2 Bulletin analysis shows a long-standing relationship between Belgium and Saudi Arabia, home of the strict Salafi-Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and Islamic law, which is embraced by ISIS.
The MWL was established in 1962 in Saudi Arabia as an Islamic non-governmental organization to “unite the ranks of the Muslims, and remove all divisive forces from the midst of the Muslim communities around the world, remove obstacles in the way of establishing the Muslim world union and support all advocates of charitable deeds.”
Various regional sources say that the Muslim World League has been financing the Great Mosque of Brussels since 1967.
‘Playing with fire’
Five days before the November Paris attacks, the French daily newspaper “Liberation” said that the Great Mosque of Brussels for the past 30 years “has been an active Salafist refuge, offering fertile soil for their networks to grow.”
Salafism and Wahhabism are terms used interchangeably, reflecting the extreme interpretation of Islam pushed worldwide by Saudi Arabia.
Islam expert Michel Privot of the European Network Against Racism told Liberation that “Salafist sentiments are solidly anchored in the minds of Muslims in the Belgian capital.”
He said this influence can be traced back to some 30 years of Saudi financial assistance to Belgium at a time when Belgium’s finances were desperate and the country was in dire need of cheap oil.
“Belgian authorities have been playing with fire regarding this issue for 30 years,” Privot said.
In exchange, Belgium’s King Baudoin made a deal with the Saudis for a 99-year lease on the former Oriental Pavilion, which then was turned into the Great Mosque of Brussels.
Formerly, the Oriental Pavilion was first constructed for the 1880 National Exhibition in Brussels.
Hub for attacks
The concentration of Salafist-Wahhabi influence in Brussels may help explain why the city and, indeed, the country has become the hub in Western Europe for attacks, such as those last year in Paris. Just last week, Italian officials rounded up Djamal Eddine Ouali, an Algerian who accused of counterfeiting documents for the Paris and Brussels terrorists.