Saudi Arabia, Home of Islam, Will Start Policing Prophet Muhammad's Teachings to Stop Terrorism

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, on March 16, in Beijing. Getty Images/Lintao Zhang

Saudi Arabia, which has long been linked to global terrorism, now says it will police the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad to make sure followers of Islam do not use twisted and radical interpretations of Islamic traditions to foment violence and terrorism.

King Salman announced the formation of an "authority" that would focus on the "hadith," passed-down records of what Muhammad said and did while alive that are used by clerics to teach Islam, Reuters reported Wednesday.

While lacking specifics on how it would be implemented, Saudi Arabia's Culture and Information Ministry said the new group would strive to "eliminate fake and extremist texts and any texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders and terrorist acts."

Radical organizations such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and others employ extreme interpretations of Muhammad's teachings and sayings to wage war and terror attacks, and the United States has long sought Saudi Arabian help in combating such extremism.

Saudi Arabia and its Al Saud royal family have long railed against radical Islam, but the kingdom has often found itself at the heart of immense division between more conservative, older clerics and younger generations.

One example of Saudi attempts to crack down on terrorism came in January 2016, when a major Shi'ite minority cleric was executed along with 46 others—mostly Sunnis—who were convicted of conducting attacks for Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia years ago. The cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, was viewed as a leader of younger Saudis who criticized older leaders and their inability to find equality with the majority Sunnis.

Saudi Arabia has worked with the U.S. coalition to combat ISIS in the Middle East, particularly in the war in Yemen against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but conversely, its government faces accusations of funding the spread of its highly conservative sect of Islam, Wahhabism.

In July, a United Kingdom-based think tank published a report that said Saudi Arabia "sponsored a multimillion-dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the west."

Furthermore, a June 2017 congressional research report that detailed U.S. and Saudi relations stated financial support from Saudi nationals "remains a threat" to Salman's government and the world at large.

Conspicuously, President Donald Trump left Saudi Arabia off his travel bans this year even though it has served as by far the biggest exporter of terrorism to the U.S. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington hailed from Saudi Arabia.

And between 1975 and 2015, the Cato Institute found Saudi Arabia led all other countries with 19 total terrorists calling its soil home, with Pakistan next at 14, according to The Atlantic.