The Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Thursday, according to RT.com
The crown prince said that Saudi Arabia's Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.
He added that successive Saudi governments had lost track of that effort, saying "we have to get it all back." He added that funding now comes mostly from Saudi based "foundations," rather than from the government.
The crown prince’s interview with the Washington Post took place on March 22, the final day of his US tour.
Another topic of discussion included a previous claim by US media that bin Salman had said that he had White House senior adviser Jared Kushner "in his pocket."
Bin Salman denied reports that when he and Kushner – who is also Donald Trump's son-in-law – met in Riyadh in October, he had sought or received a greenlight from Kushner for the massive crackdown on alleged corruption which led to widespread arrests in the kingdom shortly afterwards.
According to bin Salman, the arrests were a domestic issue and had been in the works for years.
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He said it would be "really insane" for him to trade classified information with Kushner, or to try to use him to advance Saudi interests within the Trump administration.
He stated that their relationship was within a normal governmental context, but did acknowledge that he and Kushner "work together as friends, more than partners."
He stated that he also had good relationships with Vice President Mike Pence and others within the White House.