US embassy cable - 93JEDDAH1305

THE KINGDOM'S LEADING "RELIGIOUS REFORMERS"

Identifier: 93JEDDAH1305
Wikileaks: View 93JEDDAH1305 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Jeddah
Created: 1993-06-27 07:26:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: KISL PGOV PINR SA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 270726Z JUN 93
FM AMCONSUL JEDDAH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2490
INFO GCC COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY LONDON
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JEDDAH 01305 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/B 
LONDON FOR JOHNSON 
CENTCOM FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL OADR 
TAGS: KISL, PGOV, PINR, SA 
SUBJECT: THE KINGDOM'S LEADING "RELIGIOUS REFORMERS" 
 
REF: (A) 92 JEDDAH 192, (B) 92 JEDDAH 279, (C) 92 JEDDAH 
607, (D) 92 RIYADH 4210 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  THE AWAKENING, OR "AS-SAHWAH" AS IT IS KNOWN IN 
ARABIC, IS THE GENERAL TERM USED TO DESCRIBE THE 
CONSERVATIVE RELIGIOUS TREND WHICH GAINED STRENGTH IN 
SAUDI ARABIA FOLLOWING OPERATION DESERT STORM.  IT HAS 
REMAINED A LOOSELY STRUCTURED MOVEMENT WITHOUT FORMAL 
ORGANIZATION OR A LEADERSHIP HIERARCHY.  POL/ECON OFFICER 
RECENTLY ASKED TWO YOUNG SHARI'A COURT LAWYERS FOR THEIR 
LIST OF THE AWAKENING'S MOST IMPORTANT LEADERS.  WHILE 
TRAINED AT MAKKAH'S UM AL-QURA ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY, THESE 
TWO CONTACTS WOULD NOT DESCRIBE THEMSELVES AS RELIGIOUS 
ACTIVISTS. 
 
3.  OUR CONTACTS CHARACTERIZED THOSE THEY NAMED AS THE 
MOST INFLUENTIAL "RADICAL SALAFIYEEN".  "SALAFIYEEN" IS A 
TERM WHICH DESCRIBES THOSE WHO WISH TO RETURN TO THE WAYS 
OF THEIR ANCESTORS.  AS USED BY OUR CONTACTS, IT HAS 
NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SALAFIYYAH MOVEMENT FOUNDED BY 
JAMAL AL-DIN AL-AFGHANI AND MOHAMMAD ABDUH IN EGYPT AT 
THE TURN OF THE CENTURY.  WE HAVE TRANSLATED IT AS 
"REFORMERS" SINCE THE ARABIC LACKS THE NEGATIVE 
CONNOTATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH REACTIONARIES.  THESE 
REFORMERS ARE REPORTEDLY MOSTLY YOUNG, INTERESTED IN 
CURRENT EVENTS AND MORE STRICT IN THEIR RELIGIOUS 
INTERPRETATIONS THAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS SUCH 
AS ABDULAZIZ BIN BAZ.  THOSE WHO PREACH ARE REPORTEDLY 
WELL KNOWN FOR THEIR "FIERY SERMONS". 
 
4.  THE LIST OUR CONTACTS PROVIDED IS INTERESTING FOR 
SEVERAL REASONS.  FIRST, THEY PROVIDED 16 NAMES, WITH BIO 
DATA FOR EACH, DIRECTLY FROM THEIR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. 
THUS, WHILE THESE RELIGIOUS ACTIVISTS MAY NOT BE 
HOUSEHOLD NAMES, THEY FORM A WELL KNOWN AND RECOGNIZABLE 
GROUP IN THE MINDS OF THESE TWO LAWYERS.  MOST ARE ON THE 
FACULTIES OF THE KINGDOM'S RELIGIOUS UNIVERSITIES, 
PARTICULARLY IN RIYADH.  NONE ARE FROM THE EASTERN 
PROVINCE.  MOST OF THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECENT 
"COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENSE OF LEGITIMATE RIGHTS", 
INCLUDING ITS SIX FOUNDERS, WERE NOT MENTIONED. 
 
5.  MANY, BUT NOT ALL, OF THOSE NAMED SIGNED LAST YEAR'S 
MEMORANDUM OF ADVICE (MOA) TO THE KING.  THE MEMORANDUM 
OF ADVICE OUTLINED PROPOSALS FOR A MORE ISLAMICLY CORRECT 
SAUDI ARABIA AND IS THE CLOSEST THING THE AWAKENING HAS 
PRODUCED TO A MANIFESTO.  NOT SIGNING IT, HOWEVER, DOES 
NOT APPEAR TO EXCLUDE ONE FROM BEING CONSIDERED AN 
IMPORTANT RELIGIOUS REFORMER. 
 
6.  FINALLY AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY, THIS LENGTHY 
LIST AND OUR CONTACTS' RELATED COMMENTS INDICATE THAT THE 
AWAKENING HAS NOT YET PRODUCED A SINGLE, RECOGNIZED 
NATIONAL LEADER.  THERE IS NO SAUDI KHOMEINI. 
 
7.  THE LIST OF RELIGIOUS REFORMERS FOLLOWS: 
 
SAFFAR BIN ABD AL-RAHMAN AL-HAWALI: FACULTY MEMBER AT UM 
AL-QURA UNIVERSITY IN MAKKAH, SIGNED THE MEMORANDUM OF 
ADVICE (MOA). 
 
NASSIR BIN SALMAN AL-AMR: FACULTY MEMBER AT IMMAM 
MOHAMMAD BIN SAUD UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH. 
 
SALMAN BIN FAHD AL-AWDAH: FACULTY MEMBER AT IMMAM 
MOHAMMAD BIN SAUD UNIVERSITY, QASSIM BRANCH, SIGNED THE 
MOA. 
 
DR. AIDH BIN ABDULLAH AL-QURNI:  FORMER FACULTY MEMBER OF 
IMMAM MOHAMMAD BIN SAUD UNIVERSITY, ABHA BRANCH, SIGNED 
THE MOA.  NOW LIVING IN RIYADH. 
 
DR. SAAD AL-FAQIH:  FACULTY MEMBER AT KING SAUD 
UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE.  HE IS A 
SUPPORTER OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENSE OF LEGITIMATE 
RIGHTS (CDLR) WHO JOINED THE MAY 11 MEETING BETWEEN 
POLOFFS AND CDLR CO-FOUNDER ABDULLAH AL-MASARI AND CDLR 
SPOKESMAN MOHAMMAD AL-MASARI.  HE SIGNED THE MOA. 
 
DR. SALIH AL-WUHEIBI:  FACULTY MEMBER AT KING SAUD 
UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH, ARABIC LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT, SIGNED 
THE MOA. 
 
DR. NASSER BIN SAAD AL-RASHID:  FACULTY MEMBER AT KING 
SAUD UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH, DEPARTMENT OF LITERATURE AND 
ARABIC LANGUAGE, SIGNED THE MOA. 
 
SAMIR KHALIL AL-MALKI:  IMMAM AND PREACHER IN MAKKAH. 
 
DR. SAID MUBARAK ZU'AIR: FACULTY MEMBER AT MOHAMMAD BIN 
SAUD UNIVERSITY RIYADH, SIGNED THE MOA. 
 
DR. ABD AL-WAHAB BIN NASSER AL-TURAYIR:  FACULTY MEMBER 
AT IMMAM MOHAMMAD BIN SAUD UNIVERSITY.  IMMAM AT THE KING 
ABDULAZIZ MOSQUE IN RIYADH, SIGNED THE MOA. 
 
DR. AHMAD BIN OTHMAN AL-TUWAIJARI:  FORMER DEAN OF 
EDUCATION KING SAUD UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH.  RETIRED UNDER 
PRESSURE IN APRIL 1992. 
 
NASSER BIN ABDULLAH AL-MUHAWIZ:  DEAN OF THE FACULTY OF 
ENGINEERING, KING SAUDI UNIVERSITY RIYADH. 
 
ABDULLAH AL-BARAK: FACULTY MEMBER AT IMMAM MOHAMMAD BIN 
SAUD UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH. 
 
ADIL AL-KALBANI:  FORMER IMMAM OF THE KING KHALID MOSQUE 
IN RIYADH, HAS BEEN ARRESTED SEVERAL TIMES FOR 
ANTI-GOVERNMENT SERMONS. 
 
DR. SALIH FAWZAN AL-FAWZAN:  FACULTY MEMBER AT IMMAM 
MOHAMMAD BIN SAUD UNIVERSITY IN RIYADH.  A MEMBER OF THE 
SUPREME COUNCIL OF ULEMA.  HE WAS THE ONLY MEMBER OF THE 
COUNCIL TO SIGN THE 1991 POST-DESERT STORM REFORM 
PETITION.  HE THEN SIGNED THE ULEMA'S DENUNCIATION OF 
THIS PETITION AND HAS TOED THE GOVERNMENT LINE SINCE.  HE 
DENOUNCED THE "COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENSE OF LEGITIMATE 
RIGHTS". 
 
AWAD BIN MOHAMMAD AL-QURNI:  FACULTY MEMBER AT MOHAMMAD 
BIN SAUD UNIVERSITY ABHA BRANCH, SIGNED THE MOA. 
 
 
HAMBLEY 

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