Father of Hate: How detained Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali promoted anti-Western ideas

Father of Hate: How detained Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali promoted anti-Western ideas
Safar Al-Hawali, above, and fatwas from his book “Muslims and Western Civilization”.
Updated 29 April 2019

Father of Hate: How detained Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali promoted anti-Western ideas

Father of Hate: How detained Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali promoted anti-Western ideas
  • In Safar Al-Hawali, extremism lurks behind a genial facade
  • In his book, he supports terrorist acts regardless of the effects on Muslim communities

JEDDAH: Through his 3,000-page book “Muslims and Western Civilization,” published in 2018, detained Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali aimed to revive ideologies from his days with the Islamic Awakening movement, and to criticize the government for striving toward moderation and modernity.

The movement incited hate toward other religions, called for jihad in Afghanistan and other occupied Muslim lands, and opposed the Saudi government allowing US troops to be based in the Arabian Peninsula during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Al-Hawali calls for jihad to be a main focus in daily education. His book’s circulation led to his arrest on July 12, 2018.

The radical cleric rose to fame in the 1990s as one of the leaders of the Islamic Awakening alongside preacher Salman Al-Odah.

While the latter was a firebrand, Al-Hawali used his calm and collected demeanor, and his position as an academic, to call on his followers to perform jihad in occupied Muslim lands.

He was arrested for refusing to atone and stop his hate preaching in 1994, and was released after serving his five-year sentence. But his extremist views and fatwas (religious edicts) were still available on his website.

Born and raised in the Saudi city of Al-Baha, Al-Hawali received his bachelor’s degree in Islamic law from the Islamic University of Madinah, and his master’s and Ph.D. in Islamic theology from Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah.

Alongside Al-Odah and other Awakening Movement leaders, he preached against the foreign military presence in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. The outspoken clerics incited hate toward the West and called for jihad. 

After a joint commission in 1994, led by Grand Mufti Abdulaziz ibn Baz, found the movement’s hateful rhetoric a danger to Saudi society, the government disbanded the movement.

Following his release from prison, Al-Hawali questioned the public’s negative views on Al-Qaeda, its late leader Osama bin Laden and jihad, most notably on Saudi Channel 1.

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US, the detained cleric criticized Western media for exaggerating the involvement of Al-Qaeda, and even claimed on Saudi TV that he had no proof of its existence.




A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after it was hit by two airplanes September 11, 2001 in New York City. This is frame 6 out of a sequence of 6.
(Peter C. Brandt/Getty Images/AFP)

“Americans created an entirely imaginary organization and supported it to attack their own country and other places, not only Muslim countries,” he said.

He refused to recognize the existence of Al-Qaeda, and addressed Bin Laden as “sheikh.” When the TV presenter asked why he addressed bin Laden in such a respectful manner, Al-Hawali said: “He is innocent until proven guilty.”

Time and again, Al-Hawali pointed to the West as the enemy, writing in his book: “The West is waging a vicious crusade against us and colonizing our lives.” In the book, he supports terrorist acts regardless of the effects on Muslim communities.

Al-Hawali believes that Muslims have a religious duty to support jihadists, saying: “There is no solution to any crisis or an exit from the dark tunnel except through asceticism and the revival of jihad in this nation.”

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In a lecture titled “Answering Those who Altered the Religion of Jesus Christ,” he urged teachers to devote time in their classes to sowing enmity toward Jews and Christians.

He criticized the Saudi government for investing in the entertainment sector, believing that the duty of Muslims is to prepare for jihad with the government’s support.

“According to officials in Saudi Arabia, they (the government) will spend $65 billion, or more than SR200 billion, on opening cinemas. Would it not be better to spend these billions on preparation for jihad?” the detained cleric wrote.

He has called for the revival of suicide attacks, calling them “martyrdom operations” that “intimidate the enemy” and “display the courage of Muslims.”

He wrote: “Jihadists should be honored, not imprisoned, and if they do something wrong, they should be corrected.”


Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details. (shutterstock)
Updated 40 min 41 sec ago

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudi Central Bank has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers

JEDDAH: Fraudsters have developed a new scam, contacting residents in Saudi Arabia and pretending to be bank staffers requesting customer details.
A number of Arab News staff have received such calls in recent weeks. One caller spoke Urdu while two other callers posing as senior officials from the headquarters of the bank spoke in English and Arabic with a local accent.
They used phone numbers that appeared to be local numbers but upon calling back, the lines failed to connect.
The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.
Speaking to Arab News, Talat Zaki Hafiz, secretary-general of the Media and Banking Awareness Committee of Saudi banks, said: “Saudi banks represented by the Media and Banking Awareness Committee have repeatedly warned bank customers not to react to stray phone calls of any kind coming from unknown sources that ask to update their banking record or personal information.” He further confirmed that banks do not request such information through phone calls or SMS messages.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at the King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Phishing, an online scam which targets users through emails where individuals are encouraged to click on a link that takes them to fraudulent sites, was troubling people. Now it’s a different kind of scam known as ‘vishing,’ over-the-phone phishing, where scammers persuade users to share their banking information by impersonating a bank official.”

HIGHLIGHT

The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.

Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details.
Sharing his experience Zafar Hasan, an e-learning consultant in Riyadh, said: “I received a call from someone on an unknown mobile number who introduced himself as a bank employee and told me that my ATM card was going to be blocked. It required an immediate update so I should give my Iqama number (residence permit number) and sixteen-digit ATM card number. I felt something was fishy, so I told him that I would go personally to the bank to update the card.”
The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers.
SAMA called on bank customers to take information only from the official channels of the bodies regulating the Kingdom’s financial and investment sectors and inform the competent security authorities about such fraudulent attempts.