BOOK REVIEW

Two Houses of Death in the Desert

Two Houses of DeathA decade after September 11, the number of those killed in Islamic terrorist attacks approaches 20,000. Despite the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite a decade of outreach and diplomacy, despite a range of approaches from Muslim empowerment to nation building to drone strikes, the numbers testify to the truth that we are no closer to wrapping up the War on Terror now than we were ten years ago.

When we think of September 11, the image that most often comes to mind is that of thousands of Americans going about their lives, filing paperwork, grabbing a cup of coffee or looking absently at the sky without any knowledge of the terror bearing down on them. A decade later the fruits of our policies seem to suggest that we know as little about the nature of the enemy now as they did back then.

Like treasure hunters we have gone all over the world. We have been to Afghanistan and Iraq, to Yemen and Pakistan, to Somalia and Libya. We have gone from Africa to Asia and back to the Middle East again without ever discovering the source of the problem. And yet like the Saudi students taking flight lessons, in retrospect it was always there waiting to be discovered.

In 2003, as the United States and its allies had committed themselves to Iraq, a very important book was published with much less fanfare than many of the pro and con volumes on the Iraq War. That book was Hatred’s Kingdom by Dore Gold.

Hatred’s Kingdom guides us into the dark heart of Islamic terrorism beyond the cannon fodder who blow themselves up in markets in Baghdad, ride waving AK-47’s on the back of pickup trucks in Pakistan or construct their homemade bombs in Jersey City, and follows it back to the tribal politics and power struggles boiling out of the 18th century Arabian Desert whose explosive consequences have come to define the 21st century.

Hatred’s Kingdom takes us into the Saudi heartland of America’s greatest enemy, the country which at one time or another harbored many of the leading Islamic terrorists, funded their terrorist groups and whose national ethos is closely wedded to the sponsorship of Islamic terrorism. A kingdom that is home to the spiders of Islamic terror, who when the War on Terror disturbs their webs wait patiently before weaving another one under the protection of the military might of the United States.

Part history lesson and part primer on Islamic terrorism, Hatred’s Kingdom retraces the relationship between the crossed swords of the House of Saud and the House of Wahhab; the temporal and religious alliance that has made Saudi Arabia into a kingdom at war with itself and with the rest of the world.

Dore Gold takes us back to the Wahhabi massacres, and pinpoints the relentless killing and mutilation of men, women and children as the spiritual precedent to the atrocities that we see today on the evening news. He explores the tensions between power and religion that have fueled Saudi terrorism even while they kept Saudi Arabia together through the pact between the House of Saud and the House of Wahhab that gave the House of Saud the right to expand its power through Jihad on the condition that this would also expand the influence of Wahhabism.

While some books focus on Islamic theology and others on a secular realpolitik; Hatred’s Kingdom takes us to their intersection where religion becomes a tool of war and war becomes a tool of religion. It shows us why we cannot detach violence from Wahhabi Islam and its best evidence is the worldwide success of Wahhabism whose dominance comes from a willingness to suppress rivals without mercy as a religious duty.

In Hatred’s Kingdom the roads of terror converge on the desert where angry men brooded and built up the ideologies of eternal war. From Al Qaeda to the Muslim Brotherhood to Fatah, Dore Gold links their intellectual, political and financial roots to Saudi Arabia. With a network of worldwide Islamic institutions answering to the Saudi royal family and preaching hate in major American and European cities while training camps in Afghanistan prepare aspiring terrorists for their missions of death, the connections between violence and hate intersect with Saudi princes, fat bank accounts, lavish mosques and secret organizations.

The toxic mixture of oil, blood and Islam made Saudi Arabia into a powerful kingdom, but also turned it into a ticking time bomb. Al Qaeda was one of several such explosions, but Hatred’s Kingdom forces us to ask whether perhaps the biggest explosion may still be on the way.

The Wahhabi armies that once contended with the Ottoman Empire continue to trickle into numerous wars, from Iraq to Afghanistan and from Yemen to Syria. Their influence can be felt not only in the wars of the Middle East, but also in America, Asia and Africa. 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis and the stamp of the House of Wahhab or the House of Saud can be found on most of the covert and overt terrorist activity in the United States.

Saudi Arabia still finds it strategically necessary to maintain the façade of an alliance with the United States, while telling its own religious scholars that America and other infidel nations are acting as its servants, but Hatred’s Kingdom forces us to ask whether the day may come when Saudi Arabia will no longer be able to keep its internal religious tensions from exploding into war.

No single book can serve as a complete education on Islamic terrorism or the genocidal Jihad that has taken millions of lives across the ages; but Hatred’s Kingdom provides us with a large piece of the puzzle. Hatred’s Kingdom is an important reminder that the War on Terror cannot be won until the source of the wealth and words that fuel Islamic terrorism is defeated.


Daniel Greenfield is a New York City-based writer and freelance commentator with a special focus on the War on Terror and the rising threat to Western Civilization. Mr. Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. He maintains a blog and is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.