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How a Diplomat From Saudi Arabia Spread His Faith-German Investigators Link Mr. Fakihi to Extremists
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL A | 9-10-03 | DAVID CRAWFORD Posted on 09/10/2003 5:19 AM PDT by SJackson

BERLIN ~ As head of the Islamic Affairs Department at the Saudi Embassy here, Muhammad Jaber fakihi was responsible for explaining Saudi religious views and assisting Muslims in need. These were some of his activities after arriving in June 2000:


He frequented a Berlin mosque favored by Islamic extremists and attended on occasion by members of the now-notorious Hamburg cell that helped mount the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, German investigators said. Mr. Fakihi, now 32 years old, channeled more than $1 million to the mosque, where Muslim clerics have preached intolerance of non-Muslims, the investigators said. According to a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Fakihi told his superiors in Saudi Arabia that his ultimate goal was to turn Berlin into an Islamic proselytizing center for Eastern Europe. And German officials said they believe he met earlier this year with a Tunisian man under investigation here for possessing bomb-making materials and a handbook for brewing poisons. Mr. Fakihi's tenure in Berlin shows one way the puritanical version of Islam espoused by Saudi religious and government leaders can be spread. Behind the suave princes who decry terrorism and present a reassuring face to the West, men such as Mr. Fakihi — Saudi government officials, employees of Saudi charities and others ~ disseminate a view of Islam that derides "nonbelievers" and disparages the U.S. and Western culture. Saudi government spokesmen deny the country encourages intolerance. But for years, the oil-rich kingdom has funded religious schools, seminars and charities that spread fundamentalist Islam in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe. American and European officials have said that this kind of Islamic belief has helped foster hatred toward the West and in some extreme cases, such as the al Qaeda organization, bloody acts of terrorism. Mr. Fakihi hasn't been accused of involvement with terrorism. He returned to Saudi Arabia in March, after the discovery of his business card last year among the possessions of a man convicted in Germany of aiding the Sept. 11 hijackers. Mr. Fakihi couldn't be reached for comment in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Embassy in Berlin didn't respond to requests for comment. Calls to the Saudi government in Riyadh were returned by an American public relations consultant in Washington. The consultant, who asked not to be identified by name or described as a Saudi spokesman, said Mr. Fakihi's activities in Berlin had been audited and found to be proper. "He did nothing wrong," the consultant said. The consultant said the premise that Mr. Fakihi personified Saudi efforts to spread an intolerant faith "is dead wrong." He added: "Please do not confuse the acts of a few individuals, with the beliefs and deeds of the entire Saudi people. When you paint Saudi Arabia with a broad brush, you can't say its people are