Walters pressed Abdullah on whether his administration is taking steps to curb religious extremism, the strict Wahabi strain of Islam that some say is promoting intolerance and hatred among young students. But the monarch said Saudi Arabia is being unfairly singled out on that point. "I will not deny that such extremism existed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but such extremism exists in almost every country in the world. If you look at the United States and what people have said about Islam ... I ask myself why the focus is only on Saudi Arabia when it comes to such matters," he tells Walters.
While Abdullah said his country does not support groups that promote religious extremism or terrorism, Osama bin Laden and 15 of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. And in 2004, the Council on Foreign Relations reported that "Saudi Arabia continues massive spending on fundamentalist religious schools which export radical extremism that can lead to terrorism."
The king denies the council's assertion. "It doesn't seem logical. We are fighting terrorism and extremism in our midst. Why would we be funding it somewhere else?" he asks Walters.
He adds, "For those who level these charges against us, I say provide us with the evidence that this is happening and we will deal with it. It is not logical or rational for us to be supporting it. We have also regulated our charities and we have closed offices around the world, and we have withdrawn support for institutions that we found to be extremist."
Walters asks Abdullah why Saudi Arabia has become fertile ground for groups like al Qaeda. "Madness and evil, it is the work of the devil," he said.
He condemned terrorist acts and said his country "will fight the terrorists and those who support them or condone their actions for 10, 20 or 30 years if we have to, until we eliminate this scourge. I believe that the world must stand shoulder to shoulder with each other if we are to eliminate this evil from our midst."