World Assembly of Muslim Youth
|Chairman||Saleh Al ash-Sheikh|
|Vice Chairman||Abdullah Omar Nasseef|
www.wamy.co.uk (English)www.wamy.org (Arabic)
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth is an international Islamic educational organization whose stated purpose is “preserve the identity of Muslim youth and help overcome the problems they face in modern society”. Reportedly the world's largest Muslim organization, WAMY organizes conferences, symposia, educational workshops and research circles to address youth and students issues, in addition to football tournaments and European Muslim Scouts camps for Muslim youth in Europe. Along with the Muslim World League, it is part of a "worldwide network of largely Saudi-funded groups", with headquarters in Saudi Arabia. It maintains satellite chapters in 56 other countries and is affiliated with some 500 other Muslim youth groups on five continents.
The organization's American office was closed by the US government, and the WAMY has come under scrutiny because of significant financial support from Saudi Arabia and its links to the bin Laden family, however the majority of WAMY branches remain open.
WAMY was founded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1972 by Muslim Brotherhood member Kamal Helwabi. Helwabi went on to serve as WAMY's executive director until 1982. It's U.S. branch was incorporated in 1992—in Falls Church, Virginia—by Abdullah bin Laden, nephew of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
According to the Pew Center, "between the 1970s and 1990s, the European activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim World League and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth became so intertwined that it was often difficult to tell them apart". According to Pew the influence of WAMY and MWL has waned somewhat as social media and blogs have "made it easier for other groups to reach wide audiences".
In May 2004, 50 FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force agents raided WAMY's office in the United States at Alexandria, Virginia, "seizing all of its computers and hard drives and arresting a volunteer board member, Ibrahim Abdullah, on immigration charges". An affidavit signed by one Customs Senior Special Agent David C. Kane stated that a WAMY publication lists people who have attacked Israelis, including a man who killed 14 people by driving a bus off a cliff, as "Heroes from Palestine". Kane writes that a section of that publication, titled "Animosity Toward the Jews", lists reasons for Muslims to hate Jews, including, "The Jews are humanity's enemies: they foment immorality in this world." In a statement, WAMY strongly denied any terrorist ties and said the government had told them the probe is focused only on "immigration issues".
WAMY's stated aim is "to preserve the Muslim identity, to help overcome the problems Muslim youth face in modern society", and to "educate and train Muslim youth in order for them to become active and positive citizens in their countries". WAMY aims to "Introduce Islam to non-Muslims in its purest form as a comprehensive system and way of life" and "to establish a relationship of dialogue, understanding and appreciation between other faith organizations". It also aims to organize conferences, symposia, workshops and research circles to address youth and students issues. WAMY aims "to publish books, brochures, reports and exhibition material that best introduce Islam to non-Muslims in its holistic vision", and best educate the Muslim youth about their role in the societies. WAMY aims to organize exchange visits, Hajj and Umrah trips and provide training and support to Muslim youth organizations in order to help them better fulfill their objectives.
The WAMY UK website states that "Our aim is to build bridges of peace and unity in our multicultural society. …Through educating the Muslim youth to the common good and promoting understanding among people of different communities."
According to the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project, "as a result of Saudi money and influence, both the League and the Assembly are widely regarded as promoting the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam that is prevalent in the desert kingdom".
Support for jihad
In addition to its funding for youth camps, Islamic literature, and helping to “establish a relationship of dialogue, understanding and appreciation between Muslim organizations and the other societies”, WAMY is known to (or accused of) supporting armed struggle in various countries. In 2002, WAMY invited Hamas leader Khaled Mashal to serve as the keynote speaker of its October 29 Muslim Youth and Globalization" conference in Riyadh, where he was warmly received by attendees. In 2004 The Washington Post reported that an affidavit signed by U.S. Customs Senior Special Agent David Kane "lays out what it calls ties between WAMY and… Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government".
The Indian government has accused the assistant General Secretary of WAMY, Nazir Qureshi of supporting terrorist groups in Kashmir, and WAMY—along with other countries and similar organizations—of providing "90% of the funding" for Kashmiri militants.
According to Steven Emerson in his statement to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, WAMY "pays for promising students to continue their Islamic education at radical madrassahs in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and the affiliates of WAMY have been used provide cover or logistical support to Islamic terrorists". Its pamphlet "Islam at a glance" states (according to Emerson) that its goal is to "arm the Muslim youth with full confidence in the supremacy of the Islamic system over other systems".
- "WORLD ASSEMBLY OF MUSLIM YOUTH (WAMY)". Discover the Network. discoverthenetwork.org. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
- "Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth". Religion and Public Life Project. Pew Research. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
- "World Assembly for Muslim Youth". Berkley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
- Markon, Jerry (June 2, 2004). "U.S. Raids N.Va. Office Of Saudi-Based Charity". Washington Post. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
- "WAMY. About Us". wamy.co.za. WAMY. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
- "WAMY, Building Bridges Between Communities. About Us". WAMY.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
- Muthuswamy, S; Moorthy. Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War. Prometheus Books. p. 30.
- Emerson, Steve. "Statement of Steven Emerson to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States July 9, 2003". 9/11 Commission. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
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