A former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia is the latest high profile figure to raise concerns about Saudi funding of terrorism in the UK. Sir William Patey, who was the British ambassador in Riyadh for four years between 2006 and 2010, said Saudi funding helps create “fodder for terrorism”.
Patey’s comment follows recent revelations that the UK government has buried a report exposing Saudi funding of extremism in the UK. Prominent British MP accused Number Ten of burying a report that was originally commissioned by the former Prime Minster David Cameron. The report examined the origin and scale of funding of UK extremist groups. The investigation is said to also include an international angle to expose foreign governments funding UK terrorist groups.
The report examined the origin and scale of funding of UK extremist groups. The investigation is said to also include an international angle to expose foreign governments funding UK terrorist groups.
Opposition parties questioned the need for “hiding” the report. Tim Farron, former leader of the Liberal Democrats said:
I believe this report will be deeply critical of Saudi [Arabia] and that is why it is being hidden from the public. The government seems too desperate to keep Saudi Arabia happy rather than stand up to them.
The 64-year-old former Ambassador’s comments chimed with widespread suspicion that Saudi Arabia is a major thorn in the fight against radicalisation. Speaking at the debate in Parliament he said:
“The Saudis [have] not quite appreciated the impact their funding of a certain brand of Islam is having in the countries in which they do it – it is not just Britain and Europe”.
Patey, now reported to be a non-executive director of HSBC in the Middle East, suggested the need to have dialogue with the Gulf monarch. While acknowledging that “they [Saudi] are not funding terrorism” directly, he stressed that “they are funding something else” which he believes “may down the road lead to individuals being radicalized and becoming fodder for terrorism.”
In his speech in British Parliament, Patey was extremely critical of the organizations, associations, and mosques funded by Saudi with its vast oil wealth but acknowledged that Riyadh may not be fully aware of the consequences.
He also criticized Saudi Arabia for leading a blockade against its neighbor, Qatar, describing it as a “policy that had not been thought through”. “This is about the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said, “it is a battle for the future of the Middle East.”
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