The Islamist Threat Arrives in Switzerland
" Salman bin Fahd Al-Odah is a preacher of global influence and is one of the senior figures of the fundamentalist Islamic Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia as well as a close associate of Osama bin Laden. He was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for his extremist ideologies from 1994 until 1999. Even after his imprisonment, he adopts the call to armed struggle against the infidel Western countries in his writings."
- A report filed by the Ministry of Justice in Switzerland, May 2007
In another sign of the spread of Islam within Europe, last month, Swiss Muslims announced their plan to open " Europe's biggest Islamic center" in the capital city of Bern. The center is estimated to cover 84 acres and to cost as much as $66 million to build.
Switzerland seems to be an unlikely locus for a battle over jihadist Islamism, but according to reports, its Muslim citizens, who make up about 5% of the total population, increasingly look to radical Middle East clerics for spiritual guidance. The country is also home to a controversial professor, Tariq Ramadan, whose visa to come to America was revoked by the State Department, and reports indicate there has been a rising tension between Muslims and non-Muslims there. In what could be considered pouring fuel on a fire, two weeks ago, the League of Swiss Muslims invited Sheik Salman bin Fahd Al-Odah of Saudi Arabia to participate in their annual conference.
Hailing from a wealthy Saudi family, Mr. Odah is a noted Islamic scholar who has a wide following among Islamists throughout the world. He was enraged when American troops were based in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War and has gone on record supporting jihad against American troops in Iraq.
His stance on the American presence in Saudi Arabia earned him five years in jail there for speaking out against the government — a sentence condemned in Osama bin Laden's infamous 1996 fatwa against the West. According to reports, copies of Mr. Odah's sermons have been found in an abandoned Afghanistan home belonging to Mr. bin Laden