Prominent Saudis, including the royal family, have sent millions of dollars to the United States to build mosques to propagate an extremist form of Islam, Wahhabism. This form of Islam imposes strict restrictions on women and denies women equal rights with men. It also promotes the use of amputation and beheading as punishment for crimes. According to MSNBC, some Wahhabi communities have engaged in paramilitary training. Followers believe that they must defend Islam against perceived attack, using violence if necessary. Wahhabism ideology is connected to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan.
Scholars estimate that up to twenty-five percent of American Muslims who attend mosque regularly are Wahhabi. Others believe that this estimate is way too high and believe that Wahhabi influence is waning in the U.S. Saudis, during the 1970s and 1980s, poured funds into the U.S. to pay for what amounted to about fifty-seven percent of the mosques built in that period. The Saudi royal family itself also contributed millions to the construction of about a dozen Wahhabi mosques in the U.S. While Saudi Arabia claims that no conditions were placed on its donations to the mosques, American scholars claim that funding was contingent upon following patterns of behavior deemed appropriate by the Saudi government.
Media Resources: New York Times, 10/20/01; MSNBC News, 10/17/01