Religious Schools, Ideology and Terrorism

by Samir Yousif (July 2015)


Is it possible that a man commits suicide without being aware of what he is doing? How can we conceive what perspective, hopes and goals he wishes to accomplish by committing such an act? In this context the subject of our examination is a young healthy man, or maybe a woman. In our previous work “Religious Indoctrination,”[1] the issue of creating terrorists through family indoctrination was presented. This kind of scenario is found with Muslim families in Western societies where the parents play the central role of religious indoctrination due to the absence of well establish social institutions that take care of such religious indoctrination. In both Asia and  Africa it is crystal clear that Islamic Religious Schools were established with the basic aim of spreading terrorism through education. These Schools are scattered internationally and are well-financed and attract generations of young men from the surrounding poor and mostly illiterate Muslim communities.[2] It is of great interest to note that all these schools adopt the Sunni version of Islam, and to be more specific, they aim at spreading the Wahhabi doctrine.[3]

Madrassas (Schools)

A madrassa is an Islamic religious school. Many of the Taliban were educated in Saudi-financed madrassas in Pakistan[4] which teach Wahhabism, a particularly austere and rigid form of Islam which is rooted in Saudi Arabia. Around the world, Saudi wealth and charities contributed to an explosive growth of madrassas during the Afghan jihad against the Soviets. During that war (1979-1989), a new kind of madrassa emerged in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region — not so much concerned about scholarship as making war on infidels. The enemy then was the Soviet Union, today it’s America.[5]

The first purpose of these schools was to support the anti-Soviet resistance movement during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghani Mujahedeen received strong support from the US. Saudi Arabia, at that time, was closely working with the US against the Soviet Union. The schools that were established and financed by Saudi Arabia were, in fact, recruiting, organizing schools which also use “Islamic ideology as a way of creating a very efficient guerilla army with a very clear anti-communist ideology.”[6] Those graduates from the madrassas who do not directly join war fronts, become (at best) hot-headed preachers in mosques that encourage fighting Christians in Nigeria or in Indonesia. And in worst case, they actually recruit or participate in terrorism.[7]

Wahhabism is very suitable for this purpose. As it uses the pure text of the Quran for brain-washing purposes. The Quran contains endless verses that encourage racism and hatred and calls for never-ending jihad. The teachers at these religious schools have prepared long lists of the Qur’anic verses to convince the students to adhere to the message of Wahhabism. The terrorists are convinced that they are the hands of God. In return God promises these jihadists eternal life in Heaven.

The word terrorist has no negative impact on the students as they accept to be called terrorists. This is derived from a verse from the Quran where “God” orders the Muslims to prepare every force available in order to terrorize the enemy of God who is the enemy of the Muslims[8] at the same time.


The roots of this movement originate in Pakistan. The Taliban was the movement originating from the religious schools (madrassas) run by Jamiat-Ulma-e-Islam (Group of Islamic Scholars) for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. So Taliban is actually what it means: students. It is well-documented that the Taliban was strongly supported by both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia which led to their final victory and control of Kabul in 1996.[9] What is of vital importance in this context is that the Taliban is a product of the education of the madrassas.

While the Taliban was originally supported by Pakistani intelligence in order to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, soon the ideas of Wahhabism spread inside Pakistan and led to the establishment of Pakistani Taliban. Some commentators indicate that the US drone strike in Oct 2006 on a religious school in Bajaour that was run by Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi was the turning point in the establishment of Taliban in Pakistan.[10]

Lal Masjid in Islamabad

The Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) in Islamabad is one of the very controversial centers for recruiting terrorists in Pakistan. Although its history and daily conduct confirm such a conclusion, little action has been taken by the Pakistani government to curtail its influence. There have been several clashes and confrontations between the Government and the mosque, but the Red Mosque managed to continue delivering its message to the young.

The Red Mosque has provided many suicide bombers whether to the Taliban in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. What is of importance today is that this mosque through its Chief Cleric Abdul Aziz has declared its allegiance to ISIL and to its Caliph Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi.[11]

Boko Haram

From the very name of this terrorist group Boko Haram, one can understand the impact of religious schools. The word refers to considering Western Education to be forbidden (Haram) and Boko is the closest word to the English “book.” The original name of the group refers to its being a classical Sunni group as its name was (Jam?’atu Ahli is-Sunnah lid-Da’wati wal-Jih?d ), but the second part indicates that it is a Jihadist group (lid-Da’wati wal-Jih?d) and part of Al-Qaeda indicating a change from Classical Sunni to Wahhabism. The latest developments in the Middle East has had consequences on the loyalty of Boko Haram as it changed its allegiance from Al-Qaeda and to ISIL[12] in 2014 and adopted the administrative name Wil?yat al S?d?n al Gharb?.

The founder, Mohammed Yusuf, started teaching Wahhabism in Maiduguri in 2002 after establishing a religious teaching complex. This religious complex had the aim of establishing a Muslim State and became the main jihad recruiting center in the area.

As it is clear from the Taliban in Asia and Boko Haram in Africa, that Wahhabism is the common factor for both terrorist groups. Actually the ideology Wahhabism is the ideology for all terrorist groups all over the world. Many International Reports blamed Saudi Arabia for financing religious schools that becomes recruiting centers for terrorists.[13]

Saudi Arabia and Education

The interest in the type of the education system in Saudi Arabia started after 11 of September terrorist attacks in 2001. Many commentators accepted the hypothesis that the very nature of the Saudi education system leads to the creation of suicide bombers. The Quran is presented to the young as the actual words of God. Western Civilization is presented as the product of evil, and God is waiting for the “corrective” action to readdress this injustice.

The official Saudi education syllabus consists mainly of the teachings of the Wahhabi version of Islam. The teaching material is universal to all schools in Saudi Arabia. The religious part of the syllabus represents 98% of the total syllabus. Only 2% of the classes cover subjects other than religion. What this actually implies is that Saudi students do not get a modern education as is the case in other parts of the world. English Language, Chemistry, Physics, History…etc, are all very alien to the syllabus adopted by the Saudi government. In the Eastern Provence of Saudi Arabia where the majority are Shia as well as Zaydiya Muslims, the same syllabus prevails. So the Shia students are taught that the Shia are heathens or infidels and that they should be exterminated. Teaching of hatred is the essence of the Saudi education system. Killing of Shia and other non-Wahhabis is taught as a duty and an obligation.[14] Recently two mosques belonging to the Shia sect in the Eastern province witnessed two suicidal bombings. ISIL (Da’ish) issued a statement taking full responsibility for the two terrorist bombing and used a language similar to the official Saudi teaching at schools that killing the heathens Shia is a duty that will never end.[15]

What comes next?

What is required to produce unlimited supplies of terrorists is the availability of three factors: finance, schools and ideology and today these are abundantly available.

The primary purpose of this paper was to draw the attention to the increasing number of these religious schools and their connection to terrorism.

Today, religious schools are found everywhere including the USA and Europe. Granting Schools the right to teach Wahhabism is similar to licensing Neo-Nazism. Democratic and liberal societies should look beyond the surface and comprehend the consequences of implanting ideas of hatred in the minds of the young. Teaching Wahhabism in the USA and Europe means implanting the seeds of self-destruction.

The real issue is what happens if the terrorists acquire some form of nuclear weapons. Nuclear knowledge is already available in Pakistan and one cannot assume that such knowledge will never leak. The terrorist organizations have shown how much wealth and influence they have. Also the number of their sympathizers is increasing. What will all this lead to?


[1] See, Yousif, S. New English Review, April 2015.

[2] It is of relevance that while this piece of work was under consideration President Obama criticized the Arab Gulf Countries of having no future for their young generation but to join Da’ish (Islamic State), i.e to become terrorists, and this represents the real danger facing these countries. In addition and during the Meeting at Camp David on 14.05.2015 with the Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the President referred to the dangers that confront the Arab Sunni countries to originate from inside their countries and not from outside threats.

[3] In my previous work “Religious Indoctrination,” New English Review, April, 2015, reference was made to the following” Al-Qaeda, Da’ish, Al-Nusra, Taliban, Boko Haram, Askar Islam, Jund Allah and Al-Shabab, all belong to the Sunni Sect. They all grew up within Sunni families..”…”While all the terrorist groups mentioned are Sunnis, no attempt has been made by any Sunni Scholar to discuss this issue, or to understand its background and the factors causing it.”

[4] The number of them in Pakistan alone reached 17000 religious schools having two million students, see BBC report, follow the link:

[5] [5] See Saudi Time Bomb, Analysis madrassas, following the link:

[6] See Interview with Prof Vali Nasr, follow the link:

[7] Interview with Vali Nasr, previous reference.

[8] ?????? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ??????

[9] Marcin, Gary, 1998, The Taliban, King’s College History Department, go to the following link: Various credible sources confirm the fact that Taliban was created by Pakistan’s Secret Services.

[10] Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, link:

[11] see: Lal Masjid, go to:

[12] See Boko Haram,

[13] The are numerous references. See for example: Saudi religious funding fosters terror, study says, link :, see also, WikiLeaks: Saudi-Financed Madrassas More Widespread in Pakistan Than Thought, Link: Also, see The Wahhabi Invasion of America,in CITIZEN WARRIOR, link :

[14] This paragraph is based upon my personal experience as I spent two years living in Saudi Arabia where I checked different schools and interviewed many students. Young Saudis, under the age of 10 years, used to tell me that the purpose of their life is to kill a Shia. And when I asked them why, they would repeat some sentences indicating that the Shia were heathens and that they all were strongly pushed by their teacher. Their teacher implants the ideas of hatred in the minds of the young.

[15] Saudi Arabia attack: Islamic State claims Shia mosque bombing, go to:



Samir Yousif is a graduate of the London School of Economics (1976) and has worked in different sectors in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Bahrain, and in Europe. He worked as a professor in economics (1986-1994) at the University of al-Qadisiyah (Iraq), and at the University of Al-Fateh (1994-1996) in Tripoli, Libya. Mr.Yousif is a Norwegian Citizen, at the present living in the city of Stavanger, Norway.


To comment on this article, please click here.

To help New English Review continue to publish interesting and thought provoking articles such as this one, please click here.

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more by Samir Yousif, please click here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New English Review Press is a priceless cultural institution.
                              — Bruce Bawer

Order here or wherever books are sold.

The perfect gift for the history lover in your life. Order on Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK or wherever books are sold

Order at Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold. 

Order at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Send this to a friend