- Saudi-based Islamic organization with chapters in 55 countries
- Founded by Osama bin Laden’s nephew
- Holds conferences and distributes literature promoting jihad and anti-Semitism
- Raises funds for Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas
- Has been linked to both the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
A non-governmental youth and student group affiliated with the United Nations, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) defines itself as "an independent organization and Islamic forum that supports the work of Muslim organizations and needy communities the world over." While WAMY's international headquarters are located in Saudi Arabia, the organization also maintains satellite chapters in 55 additional countries and is affiliated with some 500 other Muslim youth groups on five continents.
Specifically, WAMY aims to achieve the following: “Preserve the identity of Muslim youth and help overcome the problems they face in modern society”; “educate and train them in order for them to become active and positive citizens in their countries”; “introduce Islam to non-Muslims in its purest form as a comprehensive system and way of life”; “establish a relationship of dialogue, understanding and appreciation between Muslim organizations and the western societies”; and “provide assistance to Muslim and non-Muslim organizations to fulfil [sic] these goals through training and cooperation.”
Toward these ends, WAMY holds regional and local Muslim youth and student camps; helps to establish Muslim scout groups; organizes conferences, symposia, workshops and research circles “to address youth and students issues”; publishes books, brochures, reports, and exhibition material “that best introduce Islam to non-Muslims in its holistic vision”; organizes exchange visits, Hajj and Umra trips; and provides training and support to Muslim youth organizations around the world. These activities have earned WAMY the designation of “humanitarian and relief-works organization” from the United Nations.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth is also one of the vehicles through which the Saudi Wahhabi government funds Islamic extremism and international terrorism. WAMY was co-founded by Kamal Helwabi, a former senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and by Osama bin Laden's nephew, Abdullah bin Laden (who served as WAMY's President through 2002 and is now its Treasurer). WAMY raises funds for the terrorist group Hamas, and in October 2002 made Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al an “honored guest” at a Muslim youth and globalization conference held in Riyadh. WAMY also helps finance the Kashmir insurgency against India, characterizing it as a "liberation" movement.
A Saudi opposition group reports that WAMY disseminates literature encouraging “religious hatred and violence against Jews, Christians, Shi’a and Ashaari Muslims.” As WAMY puts it, this literature is expressly designed "to teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and teach them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and Jerusalem when they go back to Islam and make jihad for the sake of Allah." Some WAMY publications have included interviews with Saudi clerics such as Ayed al-Qarni, an adviser to Saudi Prince Fahd. In one such interview, al-Qarni stated that he prays for America's destruction daily, that he encourages students to go to Iraq to fight against U.S. forces, and that those who cannot go should at least contribute money to the cause. Another WAMY publication features a list of "martyrs" who have attacked and murdered Israelis; one of the individuals on this list is a man who drove 14 bus passengers off a cliff as a member of the group "Heroes from Palestine."
Investigations of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center uncovered, in an apartment of one of the terrorists, an envelope marked "WAMY" along with a training manual on how to set up terrorist cells in other countries and stage attacks.WAMY came under FBI scrutiny after 9/11, when it was determined that a radiologist, Dr. Al Badr al-Hamzi, whose credit card was found among the possessions of the hijackers, was receiving funding from the organization. The Senate Finance Committee requested that the IRS examine WAMY's U.S. branch for links to terrorism. WAMY was also named in a trillion-dollar lawsuit by the families of the victims of 9/11.
In May 2004, federal law-enforcement, immigration, and anti-terrorism agents raided WAMY's Alexandria, Virginia office, seizing all of its computers and hard drives, and arresting a volunteer board member on immigration charges. WAMY had been operating out of the office of Jamal Barzinji, who was involved with a total of seven organizations that were raided by federal agents in connection with terrorist financing. After the raid on its office, WAMY likened itself to the YMCA, saying that it was interested only in "youth education, youth development, and serving the Muslim community."
Though WAMY's activities in the United States were derailed, its operations elsewhere in the world continue unabated -- in many instances with the help of other, likeminded organizations. For example, WAMY's efforts in Somalia are supported by the "Christian charities" Novib and Oxfam, which are based in the United Kingdom and Holland, respectively.
One of WAMY's closest affiliates is the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which aims to spread fundamentalist Islam and implement Shari'a (Islamic Law) worldwide. Another organization with intimate ties to WAMY is the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada. And four directors of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) -- including Anwar Ibrahim, a terror-supporting Malaysian Islamist who co-founded IIIT -- are trustees of WAMY.
In December 1999, WAMY announced at a press conference in Saudi Arabia that it "was extending both moral and financial support to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) "to help it construct its $3.5 million headquarters in Washington, D.C." WAMY also agreed to "introduce CAIR to Saudi philanthropists and recommend their financial support for the headquarters project." In 2002, CAIR and WAMY jointly announced, again from Saudi Arabia, their collaboration on a $1 million public-relations campaign.
Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz calls WAMY “the Saudi equivalent of the Hitler Youth: a hate-mongering, ultra-extremist group preaching, among other niceties, that Shia Muslims are not real Muslims, but products of a Jewish conspiracy.” The website Militant Islam Monitor characterizes the organization as “part of the Saudi Wahhabist 'Jihad through conversion' drive.”