Curtin Winsor, a former Ambassador to Costa Rica and Special Emissary to the Middle East during the Reagan Administration, has written an article for the Mideast Monitor surveying the history, spread, and threat posed by Wahhabism, defined by one source as:
a term with varied connotations, but it generally refers to a movement that seeks to purify the Islamic religion of any innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-centuryteachings of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. In the West, the term has been used mostly to denote the form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and which has spread recently to various parts of the world.
An understanding of Wahhabism is crucial to any discussion of the Muslim Brotherhood because, as Mr. Winsor observes:
Wahhabism was largely confined to the Arabian peninsula until the 1960s, when the Saudi monarchy gave refuge to radical members of the Muslim Brotherhood fleeing persecution in Nasser’s Egypt. A cross-fertilization of sorts occurred between the atavistic but isolated Wahhabi creed of the Saudi religious establishment and the Salafi jihadist teachings of Sayyid Qutb, who denounced secular Arab rulers as unbelievers and legitimate targets of holy war (jihad). ‘It was the synthesis of the twain-Wahhabi social and cultural conservatism, and Qutbist political radicalism- that produced the militant variety of Wahhabist political Islam that eventually (produced) al-Qaeda.’
Curiously, when Mr. Winsor takes up the subject of “Wahhabism in the West”, he identifies organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the American Muslim Council (AMC) only as “Saudi-funded” rather than recognizing them as parts of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. This ommission aside, the article is a useful short introduction to Wahabbism and the role that Saudi Arabia has played in its export around the world. His observation that “outrage” about Saudi Arabia that followed 911 has declined somewhat in light of what is perceived by many as a greater Iranian threat, is timely in light of recent moves by the State Department in the direction of greater legitimization for the Muslim Brotherhood and hence their Saudi allies.