70th Program Year – Eleventh Meeting
The Program: “Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and America: Fueling the Jihadi Global Threats.” – Terence Ward’s new book The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally pulls the mask off Saudi Arabia and presents a conundrum. Few global leaders or journalists have connected the dots or understood that Wahhabism — the ultra-conservative doctrine of Saudi Arabia — is also the core ideology of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Boko Haram. As the Saudis have nurtured the spread of Wahhabism and its lethal ideology throughout the world, they have succeeded in silencing most media criticism…until recently. Ward poses questions as Prince Bin Salman faces a backlash from the Khashoggi murder, the war in Yemen, and the imprisonment of women activists. Will MBS bring change and a more moderate Islam? Is he setting the stage for a conflict with Iran that will plunge America and the region into yet another war? Given Saudi history of aiding and abetting extremists while claiming to be their enemy why would America transfer nuclear technology to the Wahhabi nation? If the US wants to eliminate extremism and Saudi Arabia is battling for a dangerous monopoly on Islamic thought, should steps be taken to combat the supremacy of Wahhabi ideology worldwide and cut off the money that funds it?
Presenter: Terence Ward is a writer, producer, and cross-cultural consultant on the Middle East. For 25 years, he has advised companies, foundations and governments. Born in Boulder, Colorado, he grew up in Saudi Arabia and Iran. He received his BA in political science at the University of California at Berkeley. Continuing his studies in Egypt at the American University of Cairo, he specialized in Near Eastern history and contemporary Islamic political movements. Later, he received his MBA from the International Management Institute (IMI) in Geneva.
His newest work The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally explores the birth of the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, its mission to convert mainstream Sunni Islam and the risks it poses to the world. Terence serves as an international trustee of World Conference of Religions for Peace—the largest interfaith organization in the world. He is a member of ISMEO (Associazione Internazionale di Studi sul Mediterraneo e l’Oriente) based in Rome and on the advisory board of The Markaz (formerly the Levantine Center) in Los Angeles which embraces all Middle Eastern cultures. With his wife, Idanna Pucci, he lives in Florence and New York.