Malaysia: It’s a joke, US terror expert baffled by Saudi-led Putrajaya centre

KUALA LUMPUR: An American expert on terrorism said he was baffled by Malaysia’s decision to work closely with Saudi Arabia in promoting moderation and countering terrorism through the establishment of a new centre in Putrajaya.

Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington and an expert on Southeast Asian conflicts, said he failed to understand why Prime Minister Najib Razak is partnering with Riyadh, which is known for its spread of Wahhabism which he described as an “intolerant version of Islam”.

“Saudis have been spreading Wahhabism throughout the world, especially Southeast Asia, from a more tolerant brand of Shafi’ite Islam to a more austere version,” said Abuza in an interview with FMT.

“To reach out to Saudis to form a centre of moderate Islam is a joke. Nothing moderate about Saudi Arabia,” said the professor, who has done extensive research on terror-related activities as well as the conflicts in southern Thailand and southern Philippines.