1967 War24 resulted in the strengthening of both progressive and extremist Islamic movements.25
In the Middle East, Islamic movements increasingly came into opposition with secular
nationalism, providing an alternative source of social welfare and education.26 In this way, political
Islam, which was more open to progressive change, was seen as a threat to conservative Arab
regimes, thereby generating support for more fundamentalist27 and extremist groups.28
In the early 2000s, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi29 began training extremist militants to
participate in the Iraqi insurgency against the United States.30 These militants swore loyalty to al-Qaeda, but after increasing backlash from the community and pressure from American and Iraqi
forces, the group dissipated until becoming involved with the Syrian Civil War in 2011.31 In 2013,
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s militant group officially changed its name to the Islamic State.32
A. The Islamic State in Saudi Arabia
To understand the connection that the Islamic State has with Saudi Arabia specifically, one
must begin with an understanding of Wahhabism, which was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.33 The main tenet of the Wahhabist doctrine was that of takfir, which empowered Abd al-Wahhab and his followers to deem fellow Muslims, should they engage in activities that encroach
on the sovereignty of the King, as infidels.34 Abd al-Wahhab believed that all who did not pledge
their allegiance to a single Muslim leader should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and
their possessions confiscated.35
Abd al-Wahhab was expelled from his village due to his radical views, and in 1741, he
found refuge with Ibn Saud and his tribe. Ibn Saud’s tribe perceived Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching as
a means to overturn Arab tradition and convention, ultimately leading to a seizure of power in
Arabia.36 Ibn Saud’s clan, after adopting Wahhabism, acted under the banner of jihad.37
24 Also known as the Six-Day War, the June War, and the Third Arab-Israeli War, this was, as the latter name suggests,
the third of the Arab-Israeli wars, and it resulted in Israel’s capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old
City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Six-Day War, ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, INC.,
https://www.britannica.com/event/Six-Day-War (last visited Mar. 13, 2018).
25 Moore, supra note 18.
27 Fundamentalism is “a form of religion that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.”
Fundamentalism, OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (online edition).
28 Moore, supra note 18.
29 Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is credited as the founder of the Islamic State. See Ted Kemp, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the
man who founded ISIS, CNBC (Aug. 12, 2016), https://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/11/who-founded-isis-abu-musb-al-
30 Freeman Spogli Institute, supra note 16.
33 Alastair Crooke, You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia,
HUFFINGTON POST, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html
(last visited Mar. 13, 2018).
36 Crooke, supra note 33.
37 Id.; see Brian Handwerk, What Does “Jihad” Really Mean to Muslims?, NAT’L GEOGRAPHIC NEWS (Oct. 24, 2003),
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1023_031023_jihad.html (noting that Jihad has many meanings.
The most common interpretation of jihad is that of a struggle for self-improvement, but the interpretation referenced
by Islamic extremists is “jihad of the sword.” This concept began when Muslims were ordered by God to fight those