The government of Saudi Arabia issued an extensive statement this week denying that it has any ties to or is supporting the Islamic State, the Sunni jihadist group formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The statement implored the UK media in particular to stop insisting that the state has ties to the terrorist group.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wishes to emphasize, once again, that it does not and has not supported, financially, morally or through any other means, the terrorist organization known as … [ISIS],” the statement from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London read. The statement, as reported in Al-Arabiya, scolds UK media for continuing to report that Saudi Arabia has ties to the group, and exasperatedly clarifies that it does not support jihad:
Despite having clarified this issue on numerous occasions, several inaccurate, misleading and distorted allegations, made by certain media outlets in the UK, requires us to do so. … We urge the British and international media to take an in-depth look into the financial backing and organizational structure of this terrorist organization, as well as to report the situation in the region objectively and fairly and to verify allegations before reporting them as fact.
The UK media are not the only ones alleging that Saudi Arabia has ties to the terrorist group. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi’ite Muslim, has claimed that Saudi Arabia is supporting a “genocide” against Shi’ite Muslims through ISIS, claims the government denied. The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin wrote in June that “a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia” during the early days of the group. That support, he added, was often not direct, but merely governments turning a blind eye to its activities.
Saudi Arabia has also been vocally opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and provided aid to rebels attempting to topple the regime. While the kingdom insists it has only given aid to moderate opposition, it is impossible to confirm that individuals receiving help from Saudi Arabia did not eventually make their way to ISIS.
Saudi Arabia’s government has appeared concerned that the ISIS threat would leak into its kingdom. The nation’s troops have been on “high alert” since the ISIS offensive in Iraq escalated in June, announcing that it was prepared to face any ISIS jihadists who may deem it wise to enter Saudi Arabia and attempt to take its lands.