As custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, and as leader of the 41-nation Islamic coalition established to combat terror, Saudi Arabia is on the front line of the global fight against radical jihadi terrorism. It is also the ultimate target of terrorist organizations that dream of controlling the center of the Islamic world and the nation’s vast oil wealth. President Trump, in making Riyadh his first overseas stop, is demonstrating this weekend that the U.S.-Saudi strategic relationship is a vital one, and that the kingdom is an essential partner in countering and crushing violent jihadi extremism.
And yet, some critics in the West continue to ridicule any Saudi role in fighting terrorism. They accuse the kingdom of promoting “Wahhabism,” the conservative Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, arguing that its teachings are a precursor to terrorism. This, despite the fact that the kingdom is itself in the crosshairs of ISIS, al-Qaeda and a revolutionary and belligerent Iran and has seen multiple terror attacks since 1995.