Pope Francis met with the secretary general of the Muslim World League, a group that has been identified as a possible financing vessel for Saudi-backed jihadist terrorism, in the Vatican on Wednesday.
Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa was pleased to visit with the pope, expressing appreciation from the Muslim world for Francis’s “fair positions” regarding the “false claims that link extremism and violence to Islam.”
However, the Muslim World League’s past isn’t completely devoid of potential extremist activity. The group was founded by Saudi Arabia in Mecca, on May 18, 1962, to spread the Saudis’ supposed peaceful brand of Islam: Wahhabism.
The body denies any connection with violent or extremist teachings but has been investigated by the U.S. for potential ties to Hamas, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.
Newsweek writer Evan Thomas reported shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the Muslim World League was one of “two interrelated global charities” funded by Saudi Arabia that Osama bin Laden utilized to fund his terrorist operation. Thomas wrote that the United States chose to omit the group from a list of those sanctioned “in order to avoid embarrassing the Saudi government.”
In 2004, Harper’s magazine also spoke to the Muslim World League’s proclivity to terrorism, noting the group had been “long known to have funneled money to Al Qaeda” and is financed directly by the Saudi government. “MWL is an evangelical organization that was created to help spread Wahhabism, the Saudi brand of Islamic fundamentalism,” the article stated.
The MWL has certainly long been anti-Semitic. In 2008, at their first International Islamic Conference on Dialogue in Mecca, the MWL invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to speak. During the speech, he said he would “never sit with Jews on one platform and never hold dialogue with those Jews who have committed injustice against us and support Israel.”
On Wednesday, Al-Issa was accompanied by seven other Muslim delegates when he met the pope. The Vatican released photos of the encounter, in which the pair reportedly discussed “issues of common interest,” such as peace and global harmony, as well as cooperation on issues of peaceful coexistence and the spread of love.
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