We have Islamic terrorism in the world today largely because of Wahhabi Islam out of Saudi Arabia and those other sects of Islam infected by Wahhabi Islam, including Khomeini's bastardized variant of Shia twelver Islam. But Wahhabi Islam, and now its variants, are as much a threat to the Saudi regime as they are to the rest of the world.
The Sauds were a warrior clan in 18th century Arabia. They made common cause with the Islamic spiritual leader Wahhab, that the Sauds would conquer under the moral authority of Wahhabism in return for Wahhabist support for their regime. The entire legitimacy of the Saudi monarchy rests on their appeasing and promoting of Wahhabism.
The Saudi wars of conquest were to go on for the next two centuries until, in 1932, Ibn Saud was able to claim much of the Arabian Peninsula as his own. Having finally achieved total control of an area with vast oil wealth, money and power soon corrupted much of the Saudi Royal family. The most notorious example of this corruption involved Crown Prince, later King, Fahd. As described by a BBC article in 2005:
For some, the most memorable image of Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud is as a young prince, emerging from a casino on the French Riviera in the early hours of the morning, an actress on each arm.
People remember him wearing an expensively cut Western suit and gazing out confidently, not in the least troubled by the wholly un-Islamic combination of drink, women and gambling.
This was not, of course, an aspect of the King's past which could be openly discussed in the Saudi media. But everyone knew the rumours.
There were stories of all night sessions at seedy clubs in Beirut, of affairs with belly dancers, and of the wife of a Lebanese businessman paid $100,000 a year to make herself available.
Then in 1969, Fahd was said to have lost $1,000,000 in a single dusk-to-dawn marathon of Scotch-fuelled gambling at the tables of a Monte Carlo nightclub.
Needless to say, many of the true believers in Wahhabism came to see the Saud clan, quite rightfully, as deeply corrupt. As to damage control in the wake of Crown Prince Fahd's actions, the Sauds didn't change their ways so much as become obsessive in controlling public exposure and scrutiny. Second, the Sauds attempted to reclaim their religious legitimacy by significantly enhancing support for the Wahhabi religion. This was when the Sauds started exporting Wahhabism around the world on an industrial scale and which continues to this day.
Unfortunately for the very wealthy Saud clan members, the vast majority of whom would much prefer reclining in the arms of a Western consort with a fine scotch to sitting in a Mosque, their lifestyle -- as well as their very pragmatic ties to the U.S. for self defense -- have made the Saudi clan the target for many of the Wahhabists outside of their control. As the David Ignatius wrote not long ago in the Washington Post, "Sunni and Shiite extremists, otherwise deadly adversaries, share a common dream of toppling the House of Saud."
So there you have it. The world's most vicious cycle, for the Sauds and the world. The Saudi clan must fully fund and support the Wahhabists to maintain their legitimacy. The Wahhabists they create want to destroy the Saudi clan because it is corrupt. The Saud's have every reason to help us, but they can't turn off the spigot that is the well spring of all Islamic terrorism today without destroying their regime. And if they do that, no Scotch, no prostitutes, only mosques. No, they'll ride this camel until it dies -- hoping against hope that we in the West can save them from their own Wahhabist terrorists. And the utter insanity of it all is that, even with all of that, it really is in our interests to cooperate with the Saudis.
Special thanks to the ever brilliant Andrea of Bookworm Room for inspiring and contributing to this post.