Episode 1 House of Saud: A Family at War


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Episode 1

Documentary looking at the challenges facing the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. This episode examines the leader's commitment to end extremism and to return to moderate Islam.


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Transcript


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This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

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This is a family like no other.

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The House of Saud has untold wealth and power.

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Thousands of royal princes live lavish lifestyles

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and they have unique access to the world's rulers...

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..but their kingdom was born out of conflict.

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Saudi Arabia, when it was created, it was a jihadi project.

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For decades, there have been allegations

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of financial support for terror.

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We started the investigation and all roads led to Saudi Arabia

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and now it's time that they pay for what they did.

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Now, evidence is emerging

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of Saudi money reaching the most brutal extremists.

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The fighters,

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they like the fact that they are being supported by the Saudis.

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The House of Saud has often promised change, but have they done enough?

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Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars

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supporting what it calls and regards as freedom fighters.

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Now, a new Crown Prince is promising a return

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to a so-called moderate Islam.

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Having the Crown Prince come up and say it in Arabic boldly in public

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sent a very, very strong message.

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But in the face of brutal regional conflict,

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what is the future for Saudi Arabia and the world?

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Osve, a tiny hamlet in the mountains of Eastern Europe -

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an unlikely place to find the black flag of jihad.

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But men from this Bosnian village have travelled

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and fought for the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

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It's the latest chapter in the history of radicalisation

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in the heart of Europe.

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CALL TO PRAYER

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50 miles away in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo

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stands the 450-year-old al-Pasha Mosque.

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We are one of the oldest mosques in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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We teach and preach here Islam that is open,

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that Islam is human, that Islam is altruistic

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and this Islam we have preserved here for five centuries.

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Just across the city is a very different mosque.

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Paid for by Saudi Arabia,

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the King Fahd Mosque is the largest in Bosnia.

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They built this very large mosque.

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The Saudis' view is they were supporting the spread of Islam.

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Since the 1990s, Saudi charities have poured money into Bosnia.

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It's claimed they helped build 120 new mosques.

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I mean, it was complete change in the way

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Islam was being followed in the country.

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A leaked intelligence briefing from the US Embassy in Sarajevo

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warned that there were radical extremists

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focused on the new mosques and schools.

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They are employers of ideology,

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they try to harm people, which are poor...

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..which are socially vulnerable, which are unemployed, who are, er...

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..who are illiterate, uneducated.

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They didn't have any chance to educate.

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The arrival of this violent sectarian ideology

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dates from the 1990s and the bitter war that raged for four years

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between Bosnian Muslims and the largely orthodox Christian Serbs

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and Catholic Croats.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia backed the Muslim cause.

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Saudi charities supplied humanitarian aid.

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Foreign jihadists also answered the call.

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The Kingdom has always denied arming them, but what is the truth?

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This was the mujaheddin's headquarters in the city

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of Zenica during the war.

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On the wall, an Arabic slogan reads,

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"Whenever it is, death is a blessing."

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The secret Nato report from the time claims the Saudi government

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and some Saudi charities funded foreign fighters

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and even bought weapons for them.

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Saudi Arabia knew exactly what the various charities were up to.

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Money was sent to a charity for good purposes

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and then some of it was creamed off

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for supporting mujaheddin or whoever.

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The report named one charity, Al Waqf Al Islami,

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that was supposedly providing Islamic education.

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In fact, it was also funding and recruiting foreign fighters.

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Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars supporting what it calls

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and regards as freedom fighters - first in Afghanistan,

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then in Bosnia,

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and of course in Palestine and elsewhere.

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Bruce Riedel worked at the CIA for 30 years

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and advised four American presidents on the Middle East.

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And if you look at the funding of Saudi support for groups like

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the Afghan mujaheddin or the Bosnians,

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one figure turns up over and over again...

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..His Royal Highness King Salman.

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He's the one who had the responsibility to pass the hat,

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if you like, among the royals

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and collect the money which went to these groups.

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King Salman is at the heart of this whole enterprise of supporting

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what Saudis believe to be holy causes,

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fighting for the defence of Muslim lands.

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For decades, King Salman was the House of Saud's fundraiser-in-chief

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for those holy causes, but now his own son,

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the new power behind the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,

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has promised to put an end to Saudi extremism.

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It is a bold and remarkable pledge.

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Saudi Arabia, when it was created, it was a jihadi project.

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The al-Saud mobilised the tribal groups,

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they armed them and they sent them on a jihadi rampage

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around the Arabian Peninsula at the time and that resulted

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in the creation of Saudi Arabia.

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The modern state of Saudi Arabia owes its existence

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to an ancient alliance between the House of Saud

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and the supporters of an ultraconservative brand of Islam.

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It's often called Wahabism and it preaches a return to the values

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of seventh-century Arabia and the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

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The religious establishment pledges its allegiance to the King

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and in return he pledges to defend

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and spread Wahabi radical Islam around the world.

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The peculiar variant of Islam that Saudi Arabia supports -

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Wahabism, as we call it - is kind of the petri dish

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in which much more extreme versions of Islam will flourish.

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Al-Qaeda finds its spiritual

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and theocratic routes in Wahabism.

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CHANTING

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Islamic State, the same thing.

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One needs to be careful and not accuse the Kingdom of being

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the patron state sponsor of groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State,

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that's not the case...

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..but it is very much a state with an ideology

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that is very intolerant of outsiders

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and very, very, very much inclined towards sectarianism within Islam,

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and a violent form of sectarianism.

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The Crown Prince made his bold commitment

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to destroy extremist ideology last October.

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The Crown Prince says 30 years was wasted

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dealing with extremist ideas.

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You're not going to turn the Saudi religious establishment

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into California liberals,

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but what you want to do is you want to use their prestige

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and their stature to fight terrorism

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and to fight extremist language.

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That is a gradual process, but having the Crown Prince come up

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and say it in Arabic boldly in public

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sent a very, very strong message that the leadership

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is determined to not allow this language

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and this thinking to spread or to be nurtured by anybody in the country.

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It's certainly an acknowledgement

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that the ultraconservative form of religion that's practised there

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has indeed been a bit more accommodating - shall we say? -

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to extremism than the more moderate form

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that he would like to have Saudi return to,

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in his words.

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I think the real issue is, will this be a transition or really begin

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a revolution that results in a more moderate form of Islam

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that is practised in the Kingdom

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and then also, frankly, that is promoted elsewhere?

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-NEWS REPORT:

-The World Trade Center, Tower Number One, is on fire.

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The whole outside of the building...

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Oh, my God!

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Almost 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

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EMERGENCY SERVICES MESSAGE

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Stay back!

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15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis...

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Stay clear. Await the collapse of one of the towers.

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..and the trail led straight back to Bosnia

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and the allegations of Saudi funding of extremism.

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Sean Carter is a lead lawyer in an historic legal case

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against the government of Saudi Arabia.

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He's spent more than a decade weighing the evidence.

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The 9/11 families bringing the case believe Saudi involvement

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goes much further than radicalisation.

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They allege the Al-Qaeda hijackers were helped by agents

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of the Saudi state and funded by some of the same Saudi charities

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that King Salman had harnessed in Bosnia.

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One thing is immediately apparent -

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and there's virtually no disagreement about this point -

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Al-Qaeda was uniquely reliant on funding

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and support from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the years

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leading up to 9/11, and the US government has said that repeatedly.

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The US government has also said that charities based in Saudi Arabia

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were primary conduits for providing that funding

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into Al-Qaeda's hands.

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We believe that these charities are components of the government

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and to the extent that components of a government are involved

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in providing financing to a terrorist organisation,

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the government is accountable for that activity.

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The 9/11 families have collected a million pages of evidence.

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They met fierce resistance from the Saudi government

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and also President Obama's administration.

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I think that it is generally regarded at the highest levels

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that a full transparency and complete disclosure

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of all that evidence would be inconvenient to the US government

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because it would make it much harder to do business as usual

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with the Saudis.

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The government of Saudi Arabia denies supporting the attacks.

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The 9/11 Commission found no evidence

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they had directly funded Al-Qaeda.

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But Saudi Arabia says it gave away around 90 billion in two decades

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before 9/11 - a large portion paid for thousands of mosques

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and a network of clerics around the world...

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..and it admits some of the money was probably misused.

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9/11 was so painful.

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Our families were shattered, our lives were shattered

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and we've had to pick up the pieces.

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Terry Strada lost her husband Tom in the World Trade Center.

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Thanks to a long campaign to change the law, families of 9/11 victims

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are now suing the government of Saudi Arabia.

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It was an incredible mountain to climb.

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The Saudis lobbied very heavily against the bill.

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I think that they underestimated that the 9/11 families,

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that the widows, that you could come to this country

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and kill our husbands and take away our children's fathers

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and that we were going to sit around

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and cry about it and not do anything.

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We cried plenty - we cried a flood of tears -

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but then we stood up and we said, "Why, who and how?" and we got mad

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and we said, "We're going to find out all of these answers,"

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and we started the investigation and all roads led to Saudi Arabia

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and now it's time that they pay for what they did.

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After 9/11, the Saudis came under intense pressure

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to clean up their act.

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But it would take Al-Qaeda attacks on Saudi Arabia itself

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to make the House of Saud take action.

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They actually had about three or four

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different sites and wound up at the Oasis Compound -

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that's where most of the victims were -

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probably a few dozen people killed there.

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Witnessing the attack was the FBI's man in the country,

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Martin Reardon.

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There was a stand-off, I was on site, there were

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several hundred Saudi security forces surrounding that compound.

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They wound up breaking out and got away.

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That's OK. Don't come this way.

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More than 20 people were killed -

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terrorism in the heart of the Saudi kingdom.

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That light finally went on, that it had got out of hand,

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and they realised they had to do something about it.

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In the face of a threat so close to home,

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the Saudis embarked on the first of several crackdowns,

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targeting terror groups and their funding

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and sharing intelligence with foreign governments.

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The Saudis pledged to the international community

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that they will change things -

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they will clamp down on challenges, they will change their textbooks -

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but the reforms they did were very, very limited.

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MEN CHANT

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India has the third largest Muslim population in the world.

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For centuries, Sufism has been the traditional face of Islam here.

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True picture of Islam is Sufism, that's why you can see they come,

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whether they are Muslims, whether they are Hindus,

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they're Christians, they're Jews.

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They come to pay tribute to the grave of the Sufis.

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But this tolerant version of Islam is now under attack in India,

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declared unIslamic by a growing number of ultraconservative Muslims,

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backed by Saudi Arabia.

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There are some organisations, there are some people

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who are spreading the terrorism

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in the name of religion.

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-NEWS REPORTS:

-Good evening. To our breaking news.

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Gunmen have opened fire, killing at least 80 people...

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Good evening. For the last five hours or so,

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the most prosperous city in India has been turmoil...

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Several different locations have been targeted

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including two five-star hotels...

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This is what Indians fear.

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Over three days in November 2008,

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more than 160 people were murdered in Mumbai.

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The attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba -

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the Army of the Pure - a Pakistani terror group.

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Four years after Saudi Arabia launched their major crackdown

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on extremists, the group had still been able to receive funding

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from inside Saudi Arabia.

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At times, Saudi influence in India

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has come from the very highest level.

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In 2015, King Salman presented Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik

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one of Saudi Arabia's most prestigious prizes

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and a cheque for 200,000.

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So I am with those people.

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Zakir Naik is the rock star of the Islamic television world.

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He is, without doubt,

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the single best-known religious figure in the country...

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..with a following that at prime time

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runs to tens of millions of people. He's huge.

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Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue,

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discussion, discussion, discussion, debate, debate, debate,

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rebuttal, rebuttal, rebuttal, conclusion, conclusion, conclusion.

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I'll admit a misconception of the word religion. Get enlightened.

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Zakir Naik broadcasts around the globe

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on his 24-hour satellite network, Peace TV.

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And he also set up schools and a research foundation,

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all to spread his ultraconservative message.

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His singular success has been to displace this hugely rich,

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pluralist Islam,

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replace it essentially with this cardboard-cutout Islam,

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completely devoid of context, completely devoid of culture.

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Zakir Naik's hardline message has even reached into this small

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and largely Hindu village in north-western India.

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Ugandevi's only son Sandeep was a model student.

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She was delighted when he left home to find work,

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but when she went to stay with him, she was shocked.

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Sandeep's family haven't heard from him for over two years.

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They fear he's gone to join a jihadist group abroad.

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If the person who revolts, who was a Muslim,

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then can worship and become the non-Muslim,

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and propagates the faith

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and speaks against Islam,

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and if you say Islamic rule, then the person should be put to death.

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Zakir Naik's message has been an inspiration

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to violent jihadis around the world...

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..the attackers who killed 20 hostages in a cafe in Bangladesh,

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a man who attempted to blow up the New York subway,

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and the Indian engineer who planted a car bomb in central London

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before attacking Glasgow airport -

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all of them had eagerly embraced the message of Zakir Niak.

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In case after case after case,

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you will find that attackers obsessively began watching

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Zakir Niak's broadcasts at the beginning of their journeys

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into the jihadist movement.

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Very often watching Zakir Niak was the beginning of a break with

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the traditions of Islam that they grew up with.

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Having said that, there's no case in which he was either directly

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involved as a plotter or even aware of what they're doing,

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but his message opened the door for them.

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The Indian authorities are now investigating Zakir Niak.

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Satya Pal Singh, now a government minister,

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was the Police Commissioner in Mumbai,

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and he was one of the first to scrutinise

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the populist preacher.

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Zakir Niak has been banned from entering the UK for fostering hatred

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and attempting to justify terrorism.

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The Indian authorities have shut down his foundation in Mumbai

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under anti-terror law.

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Niak has been charged with promoting religious hatred,

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he's suspected of channelling Saudi and other foreign funds

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to Peace TV and his schools.

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But many of India's Muslims believe the allegations

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from India's Hindu nationalist establishment are false.

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They insist that conservative Islam is neither extreme nor violent.

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But he insists they haven't received any Saudi funding for years.

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There's mounting evidence that money from Saudi Arabia continued

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for decades to fund the spread of extremism,

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yet, somehow, the House of Saud maintained its privileged position

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in the global corridors of power.

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The West needs their oil and they are a vital ally

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in a turbulent region, but there's another reason -

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the Saudis are fighting their own bitter war against Al-Qaeda

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and the so-called Islamic State who've sworn to wipe out

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the House of Saud

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and they have more intelligence on the militants than anyone.

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The Saudis are very important partners for the United States

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and the fight against Islamic State.

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They're one of the main members of the coalition,

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just as they've been partners in the fight against Al-Qaeda.

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The last significant attack by Al-Qaeda

0:29:270:29:30

directed against the United States,

0:29:300:29:32

a plot in 2010 to blow up an airliner over Chicago,

0:29:320:29:35

was thwarted by the assistance of Saudi intelligence.

0:29:350:29:39

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that hundreds of British citizens

0:29:410:29:45

are probably alive because of intelligence

0:29:450:29:48

provided by the Saudi government.

0:29:480:29:50

But the House of Saud has bigger priorities

0:29:520:29:55

than helping allies in the West fight terrorism.

0:29:550:29:58

The King of Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holy mosques

0:30:010:30:05

in Mecca and Medina.

0:30:050:30:07

The Kingdom is determined to lead the Muslim world

0:30:090:30:13

and combat the growing influence of Iran

0:30:130:30:16

and what THEY see as its heretical Shia branch of Islam.

0:30:160:30:21

CHEERING

0:30:210:30:24

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar!

0:30:240:30:28

SHOUTING

0:30:280:30:32

And there's one conflict that tested the Saudi commitment to

0:30:340:30:38

cut its ties with violent extremism -

0:30:380:30:41

the Syrian uprising.

0:30:410:30:43

Saudi Arabia thought it saw an opportunity in 2011 to get

0:30:450:30:49

rid of Iran's number-one proxy,

0:30:490:30:53

number one ally...

0:30:530:30:56

CHANTING

0:30:560:31:00

..the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.

0:31:070:31:10

The Assads collectively for decades had been the Arab

0:31:110:31:16

state most sympathetic to the Iranians.

0:31:160:31:20

2011, the Saudis thought, "We've finally got our chance.

0:31:240:31:28

"Only a little bit of support and the Assads will collapse."

0:31:290:31:33

RAPID GUNFIRE

0:31:350:31:37

Allahu akbar. Allahu akbar.

0:31:370:31:38

What began as an uprising against an undemocratic,

0:31:380:31:42

authoritarian regime soon turned into a brutal regional war.

0:31:420:31:47

Seven years of fighting have left an estimated 400,000 people dead.

0:31:510:31:57

More than 11 million have lost their homes.

0:31:570:32:00

In the West, the focus has often been on the horrific crimes

0:32:060:32:10

carried out by the Assad regime.

0:32:100:32:12

There has been less attention paid to the role of the West's

0:32:150:32:20

ally, Saudi Arabia, in funding and arming Islamist groups.

0:32:200:32:24

-Allahu Akbar! Allahu akbar!

-GUNSHOTS

0:32:260:32:29

Conflict Armament Research is a British organisation which

0:32:390:32:44

investigates the international arms trade.

0:32:440:32:46

What we're doing in Iraq and Syria is to document each

0:32:510:32:55

individual weapon, trace it back to its manufacturers, to understand

0:32:550:33:00

in precise detail how that weapon arrived on the field of battle.

0:33:000:33:04

In areas of Iraq and Syria recently controlled by the so-called

0:33:060:33:10

Islamic State, they made a surprising discovery.

0:33:100:33:15

OK, all right.

0:33:150:33:18

This is Eastern European...

0:33:180:33:20

The cache included a number of rocket-propelled grenades

0:33:200:33:24

and anti-tank rockets.

0:33:240:33:26

We will take the weapon apart,

0:33:270:33:28

look at serial numbers which identify weapons uniquely,

0:33:280:33:33

go back to the manufacturer and ask them,

0:33:330:33:35

"To whom did you first sell this weapon?"

0:33:350:33:37

The trail took them 1,000 miles north to Bulgaria

0:33:450:33:49

and the country's largest arms manufacturer,

0:33:490:33:52

a company called Arsenal.

0:33:520:33:54

The authorities confirmed the Soviet-designed anti-tank rockets

0:33:560:34:00

were made here.

0:34:000:34:01

Further research revealed who bought them.

0:34:040:34:06

The government of Bulgaria replied to us that this

0:34:090:34:11

was a transfer which was a legal transfer to Saudi Arabia,

0:34:110:34:15

to the government of Saudi Arabia,

0:34:150:34:18

destined for the Armed Forces.

0:34:180:34:21

But the Saudi army uses Western weapons,

0:34:220:34:25

not those from the former Soviet Union.

0:34:250:34:28

The investigators discovered that weapons left the factory

0:34:280:34:32

and were transported 160 miles to Sofia airport.

0:34:320:34:36

The export licence was to Saudi Arabia

0:34:360:34:39

but they may never have arrived there at all.

0:34:390:34:42

What we believe has happened is that the weapons were

0:34:430:34:46

procured by the government of Saudi Arabia

0:34:460:34:48

and then transferred through to a third party.

0:34:480:34:52

The most likely explanation is that they went through to Jordan

0:34:520:34:55

and then parties within Jordan transferred them across the border.

0:34:550:34:59

It's not just one shipment.

0:35:010:35:03

Bulgarian government figures show that official arms sales to

0:35:030:35:07

Saudi Arabia increased massively during the Syrian conflict,

0:35:070:35:11

up from nearly 3,000 euros in 2012

0:35:110:35:15

to more than 100 million euros in 2015.

0:35:150:35:20

Across the Balkans, it is thought the Saudis have spent around

0:35:220:35:26

1 billion euros on weapons that

0:35:260:35:28

could not be used by their own Armed Forces.

0:35:280:35:31

There is no evidence the government of Saudi Arabia has

0:36:050:36:09

intentionally armed its sworn enemy, the so-called Islamic State,

0:36:090:36:13

but there is compelling evidence the government of Saudi Arabia,

0:36:130:36:18

its charities and rich Saudis have been secretly funding

0:36:180:36:23

and arming a number of violent jihadist groups in Syria.

0:36:230:36:26

One eyewitness agreed to talk for the first time about

0:36:300:36:34

how Saudi Arabia smuggled huge quantities of cash and weapons.

0:36:340:36:38

RAPID FIRE

0:37:570:37:59

The Saudi government says the Army of Islam are moderate.

0:38:020:38:05

But these pictures show them parading caged woman

0:38:060:38:09

and captured soldiers as human shields against air strikes.

0:38:090:38:13

They want to create an Islamic state in Syria, under sharia law.

0:38:150:38:19

In areas they control, Saudi cash has been accompanied by a new

0:38:230:38:27

and strict Saudi social code.

0:38:270:38:30

By sponsoring these groups,

0:38:520:38:53

Saudi Arabia appeases its local constituency because the Wahhabis

0:38:530:38:57

in Saudi Arabia would be very pleased that Saudi Arabia had

0:38:570:39:01

gone out of its way, used a lot of its oil wealth in order to

0:39:010:39:05

promote messages that correspond to those that we hear in Saudi Arabia.

0:39:050:39:11

The Saudi government was, and still is, assisting rebel groups in Syria

0:39:110:39:17

that you could say are extremist.

0:39:170:39:20

The funding was to take the fight to Assad and

0:39:200:39:25

because the Assad government is in line with Iran and that is the...

0:39:250:39:30

For Saudi Arabia, that is the number one security threat for them.

0:39:300:39:35

As the conflict intensified with the arrival of Iranian-backed

0:39:380:39:42

militia, Saudis gambled on yet more hardline groups.

0:39:420:39:47

One witness revealed how he smuggled Saudi money and arms to

0:39:490:39:53

a group who have fought at times alongside an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

0:39:530:39:57

It was a deliberate policy to fund those radical groups

0:41:210:41:25

so they actually derailed the project for democracy in Syria

0:41:250:41:31

and this is in line with Saudi policy that does not want

0:41:310:41:34

to see any democratic government anywhere in the Arab world.

0:41:340:41:39

EXPLOSIONS

0:41:390:41:41

Allahu Akbar!

0:41:410:41:43

In 2014, the most violent jihadi group of all burst

0:41:430:41:47

onto the world stage -

0:41:470:41:48

the so-called Islamic State group proclaimed a worldwide caliphate.

0:41:480:41:53

Now all that Saudi cash and arms

0:41:540:41:56

risked reaching the most extreme jihadists.

0:41:560:42:00

These are videos... They use them for propaganda,

0:42:010:42:06

to receive support, basically saying, we are fighting

0:42:060:42:10

and using a lot of ammunition,

0:42:100:42:12

weapons, so we need support.

0:42:120:42:13

Ahmet Yayla used to be a chief of counterterrorism in southern Turkey.

0:42:150:42:20

He has found evidence that private Saudi cash ended up with

0:42:200:42:24

the so-called Islamic State.

0:42:240:42:26

I spent almost 20 years in the field,

0:42:270:42:30

fighting against terrorism.

0:42:300:42:31

I interviewed and interrogated

0:42:310:42:34

almost over 4,000 terrorists and suspects

0:42:340:42:37

from different ideologies.

0:42:370:42:38

When I speak to ISIS defectors or different terrorist

0:42:420:42:46

organisations fighting in Syria, they clearly indicate that they

0:42:460:42:50

have been receiving support and funds and aid

0:42:500:42:55

from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

0:42:550:42:59

It is not only the Islamic State,

0:42:590:43:01

but different radical jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq.

0:43:010:43:06

The fighters, they know that Saudi supports them very openly

0:43:140:43:18

and they like the fact that they are being supported by the Saudis.

0:43:180:43:22

Regular fighters underground would tell me that Isis were purchasing

0:43:260:43:31

brand-new weapons and the money was coming from Saudi Arabia or Qatar.

0:43:310:43:35

The Saudi government has accused the Gulf State of Qatar

0:43:370:43:41

of a policy of supporting terrorism and extremism.

0:43:410:43:45

But while the Saudis have pointed the finger at Qatar,

0:43:450:43:48

they have denied any Saudi state involvement.

0:43:480:43:51

They received absolutely no support from the government

0:43:530:43:56

of Saudi Arabia. If they have been receiving support

0:43:560:43:58

from individuals in Saudi Arabia then this is against the law and any

0:43:580:44:02

such individuals would be subject to the full strength of the law.

0:44:020:44:06

We have always declared that we supported the Syrian people

0:44:060:44:09

and we provide the Syrian people with the means necessary to

0:44:090:44:12

protect themselves.

0:44:120:44:14

But that does not include any of the terrorist organisations that

0:44:140:44:18

have been declared as terrorist by Saudi Arabia

0:44:180:44:20

or by the international community.

0:44:200:44:22

In 2015, Mohammed bin Salman became Defence Minister.

0:44:220:44:27

The Crown Prince has tried to exert tighter control in Syria,

0:44:270:44:32

but that has not stopped Saudi-funded weapons ending up

0:44:320:44:37

in the hands of more extreme jihadists.

0:44:370:44:39

It's important not to underestimate the priority that the Saudis

0:44:440:44:48

attach to fighting Iran in general and Iran's number-one proxy -

0:44:480:44:53

the Assad regime - in particular.

0:44:530:44:56

And they are willing to take risks, they are willing to take

0:44:560:44:59

a risk that money and arms that flow into the groups that are very close

0:44:590:45:04

to Al-Qaeda will somehow backfire against them in the long term.

0:45:040:45:09

There are very few groups operating in Syria which are not highly

0:45:140:45:19

radicalised.

0:45:190:45:21

So if you supply weapons into this mix, you have absolutely no

0:45:210:45:24

control over where they are going.

0:45:240:45:26

In that respect, Saudi Arabia, just like any other provider

0:45:270:45:31

of weapons into that conflict, is really stoking the fire.

0:45:310:45:35

The US government has praised Saudi Arabia for its efforts to

0:45:410:45:44

counter terrorist funding.

0:45:440:45:46

But despite Saudi promises, it appears private Saudi money

0:45:490:45:53

has continued to reach extremists all around the world.

0:45:530:45:57

In Saudi Arabia you do have still a large part of the population

0:46:000:46:05

that does support, to some extent, some of these extremist groups,

0:46:050:46:10

and they are donating money.

0:46:100:46:11

It is against the law, but it's not hard to move cash.

0:46:110:46:15

Ron Sandee worked in Dutch military intelligence for 11 years.

0:46:190:46:24

He has continued to investigate Islamist extremists.

0:46:240:46:28

I think that many of the donations still come from the same people

0:46:310:46:34

who funded the jihadis in the 1980s.

0:46:340:46:37

I think it's the same people who funded the jihadis in Bosnia,

0:46:370:46:41

the same families.

0:46:410:46:43

Rich Saudi private donors are still funding,

0:46:430:46:46

money is still flowing into the pockets of Al-Qaeda.

0:46:460:46:50

We have definitely also that they are funding the Taliban

0:46:500:46:53

and right now we see a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

0:46:530:46:57

Saudi Arabia has been tackling extremism.

0:47:000:47:02

When I was the Director of the CIA, when I was

0:47:020:47:04

the Commander of Central Command, we had these concerns.

0:47:040:47:07

We had them with a number of different countries in that region.

0:47:070:47:10

When we went to virtually all of them

0:47:100:47:13

and said, "Here is one we can actually identify who has actually

0:47:130:47:16

"moved money," they took action to shut that down.

0:47:160:47:20

I think it's important to remember that we're

0:47:210:47:23

talking about individual private Saudis.

0:47:230:47:27

Like any country, not all Saudis are of one stripe.

0:47:270:47:31

There are significant numbers of Saudis,

0:47:310:47:34

including members of the Royal Family, who do

0:47:340:47:37

believe that the cause is very, very important and who find that fighting

0:47:370:47:42

for the liberation of Kashmir or the liberation of Jerusalem is

0:47:420:47:47

a cause they really believe in and a cause they want to support.

0:47:470:47:51

Members of the Royal Family?

0:47:510:47:53

I don't think there's any question that

0:47:530:47:55

if you're looking at where the sources of significant amounts

0:47:550:47:59

of money are in Saudi Arabia, it's members of the royal family.

0:47:590:48:04

In 2017, newly elected President Trump chose to make his first

0:48:090:48:13

foreign trip to Saudi Arabia.

0:48:130:48:15

He toured their new centre to combat extremist ideology.

0:48:160:48:20

I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for his strong

0:48:210:48:26

demonstration and his absolutely incredible and powerful leadership.

0:48:260:48:33

President Trump urged the House of Saud to make a clean break

0:48:350:48:39

with the past.

0:48:390:48:40

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out

0:48:420:48:46

the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out.

0:48:460:48:53

Drive them out of your Holy Land and drive them out of this Earth.

0:48:530:48:59

Months later, the Crown Prince unveiled Saudi Arabia's latest

0:49:030:49:07

crackdown with sweeping new counterterrorism laws.

0:49:070:49:10

Funding terrorism is now punishable by death.

0:49:110:49:15

Scores of people have been arrested, including some prominent clerics.

0:49:150:49:19

Saudi Arabia is sending the right messages.

0:49:220:49:25

It knows that there was a problem.

0:49:250:49:27

It identified the problem as emerging in the 1980s,

0:49:270:49:31

producing what we knew which was Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden,

0:49:310:49:33

the Afghan mujaheddin, and Prince Salman is trying to say,

0:49:330:49:37

"Hey, I know there's a problem, I'm leaving Saudi Arabia

0:49:370:49:40

"and I'm doing something about it.

0:49:400:49:42

"I'm not just doing counterterrorism work,

0:49:420:49:44

"I'm changing society and I want the West to come with me on this."

0:49:440:49:48

The extremist edges need to be taken off

0:49:500:49:53

and I think in the old days it was ignored.

0:49:530:49:55

This leadership has taken steps that the previous

0:49:570:50:00

leadership for 50 years was afraid of taking.

0:50:000:50:02

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad have taken dozens

0:50:050:50:09

and dozens of measures to crack down on terrorists or terrorist

0:50:090:50:13

cells or terrorist financing.

0:50:130:50:15

They have dismissed thousands of Imams

0:50:150:50:18

and teachers who espouse extremist views.

0:50:180:50:21

These are very, very important measures.

0:50:210:50:23

But some say the Crown Prince is also using the new

0:50:250:50:27

anti-terror laws to silence his opponents.

0:50:270:50:30

It is not clear how this project of ending extremism is going to work.

0:50:320:50:37

We have seen historically that when governments repressed

0:50:370:50:40

Islamist or Islamic groups, they have gone violent,

0:50:400:50:44

so his repressive measures now may lead to be counter-productive.

0:50:440:50:48

They may actually lead to more extremism.

0:50:480:50:51

A lot of what Saudi officials - particularly the Crown Prince -

0:50:520:50:57

say about "moderate Islam" is intended more for a Western

0:50:570:51:01

audience than it is for an internal audience.

0:51:010:51:04

Saudi Arabia is trying to curb the excesses of extremism within

0:51:040:51:10

the Wahhabist movement but they are not going to divorce

0:51:100:51:14

themselves from the kind of ideology which is at the basis

0:51:140:51:20

of their legitimacy as rulers of the Arabian Peninsula.

0:51:200:51:24

The Crown Prince has raised hopes that he can be a new

0:51:260:51:29

force for moderation and security.

0:51:290:51:32

But much depends on the man himself

0:51:330:51:35

and whether he can rein in growing and destructive sectarian forces.

0:51:350:51:40

The brutal war in Yemen has been

0:52:190:52:21

personally directed by the Crown Prince.

0:52:210:52:24

His aggressive tactics have led to allegations of targeting civilians.

0:52:250:52:30

Shira Mohammed and family were holding a funeral for his brother,

0:52:320:52:36

killed in recent fighting.

0:52:360:52:38

Seven women and one young girl were killed.

0:53:290:53:32

Ten others were badly injured.

0:53:320:53:34

The missile that killed them is thought to have been

0:53:360:53:38

fired by a fighter jet from the Saudi-led coalition.

0:53:380:53:42

Their military campaign in Yemen is backed by Britain and America.

0:53:440:53:49

ROAR OF JET

0:54:320:54:34

EXPLOSION

0:54:340:54:35

According to the UN, at least 10,000 people have been killed.

0:54:350:54:39

The Saudis say they are supporting the elected government of Yemen,

0:54:410:54:44

and defending themselves against rebel attacks on Saudi Arabia.

0:54:440:54:48

Sunni Saudi Arabia claims the mainly Shia

0:54:490:54:52

rebels in Yemen are backed by an expansionist and aggressive Iran.

0:54:520:54:57

But the Saudi-led blockade has put millions of Yemenis at risk

0:54:590:55:03

of starvation and cholera.

0:55:030:55:06

It was a necessary water to enter into.

0:55:080:55:10

Now, it may have been executed in a flawed way at certain times,

0:55:100:55:14

the messaging about it might not have been good,

0:55:140:55:17

but it is a necessary war to defend the security of Saudi Arabia -

0:55:170:55:20

people don't appreciate that.

0:55:200:55:22

Crown Prince Salman's promise to crack down on

0:55:510:55:54

extremism has been welcomed in the West,

0:55:540:55:57

but some fear his aggressive foreign policy has opened

0:55:570:56:00

a new chapter of instability in the Middle East.

0:56:000:56:04

There is no doubt that what we have seen in Saudi Arabia is

0:56:080:56:11

pretty unprecedented.

0:56:110:56:12

It is aggressive, it is assertive

0:56:140:56:17

and it is getting itself stuck into some real conundrums in the region.

0:56:170:56:21

All of a sudden we don't quite know where this goes.

0:56:230:56:26

SHOUTING

0:56:290:56:31

SIRENS

0:56:310:56:33

Saudi Arabia is engaged now in the most intense sectarian

0:56:370:56:41

proxy conflict that we have seen in modern Middle East history.

0:56:410:56:45

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran any more is

0:56:480:56:50

able to keep from just stoking, stoking and stoking.

0:56:500:56:53

It is burning from Syria and Lebanon to Iraq, to Yemen

0:56:540:56:59

to inside the Kingdom, to Bahrain

0:56:590:57:01

to Kuwait and places like that.

0:57:010:57:04

Thousands if not tens of thousands of people are at risk

0:57:040:57:08

at a sectarian conflict that has burned out of control.

0:57:080:57:11

I think the danger is that the Arab world in the last five

0:57:140:57:19

years has begun walking into an abyss of hell.

0:57:190:57:22

MONITORS BEEP

0:57:260:57:29

A five-star hotel turned into a prison for princes and billionaires.

0:57:530:57:59

This was dramatic. It was almost like a theatrical performance.

0:57:590:58:03

It opened the door on a secret world of huge kickbacks

0:58:030:58:07

and bribes.

0:58:070:58:09

Saudi Arabia is probably the most corrupt country on the planet

0:58:090:58:14

and that corruption goes to the very top of the Saudi Royal Family.

0:58:140:58:19

Saudi Arabia stands at a crucial crossroads facing unprecedented change. The Kingdom has long enjoyed seemingly inexhaustible wealth and untold power and influence. But the House of Saud is accused of spreading extremist ideology and even supporting violent extremists. This series looks at the challenges facing the new Crown Prince, 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, who has pledged to transform the country.

The first episode examines the new leader's dramatic commitment to end extremism and to return to moderate Islam. Travelling from eastern Europe to India, and across the bloody battlefields of Syria and Yemen, the programme traces the impact that huge amounts of Saudi cash and weapons have had around the world.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has worked closely on counter-terrorism with the west and revolutionary change is now promised inside the Kingdom. But growing regional conflict with Iran has now placed the country at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East. The programme asks whether this most powerful and secretive country can now be a force for stability or a force for chaos in the world.