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Funding for jihad troubling, scholar says

Dec. 18, 2009 at 4:45 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- More than 35 percent of Egyptians and Saudis interviewed in a recent survey considered it their duty to back regional mujahedin financially, a scholar notes.

Private polling of Egyptian and Saudi citizens reveals trends regarding the public sentiment toward jihadi groups like al-Qaida.

David Pollock, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the polling shows more than 35 percent of those interviewed considered it "an Islamic duty" to support Islamic fighters around the world.

Pollock adds that while many of the respondents said they did not support al-Qaida, more than 40 percent said they assumed other Muslim communities did support the group's militant message.

He notes that while public support for radical Islam is dwindling, the perception that financial assistance is an obligation is troubling.

This, he says, suggests U.S. policymakers should focus their efforts on Arab funding for jihad as a whole.

"Taken by itself, the analysis of these data is not sufficient ground for major policy changes, but it should be factored into current discussion of the relevant issues," he writes.

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