A fascinating insight into the secret war being waged by Saudi Arabia against the growing influence of Islamist-inspired extremist around the world has been provided by the recently-concluded corruption scandal into controversial payments made to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
An investigation conducted by Malaysiaâ€™s Attorney General into allegations of corruption earlier this week cleared Mr Najib of any criminal wrongdoing following a lengthy investigation into a Â£479 million payment that had been paid into the prime ministerâ€™s personal bank account.
Mr Najibâ€™s political opponents had claimed the money had been misappropriated from the countryâ€™s national development fund, 1MDB, which has amassed debts of $11 billion since it was set up in 2009 by Mr Najib. One of Mr Najibâ€™s more vociferous critics has been Gordon Brownâ€™s sister-in-law, Clare Rewcastle Brown, who claimed on her London-based website, the Sarawak Report, that the money had been taken illegally from the development fund. The Malaysian authorities have now issued a warrant for her arrest.
But the really intriguing fact to emerge from the year-long investigation, however, has been the revelation that the accusations actually related to a secret payment made by Saudi Arabia to help Mr Najib win the 2013 election campaign.
Ever since the emergence of Islamic State (Isil) in Syria and Iraq, Left-wing critics such as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have consistently accused the Saudis of funding Isil and other Islamist extremist groups.
But what the Najib investigation demonstrates is that the opposite is the case, and that, rather than funding extremists, the Saudi government has been quietly supporting moderate Muslim leaders around the world as part of their attempts to combat the global threat posed by Islamist-inspired extremism.
“The Saudi initiative to fund moderate Muslim leaders could prove vital in curbing the growth of Islamist-inspired terrorism”
Many pro-Western Arab countries, such as Jordan, Morocco and Egypt, have previously been the recipients of Saudi largesse as they battle to keep Islamist extremists at bay.
Some will question why the Saudis had any interest in an election taking place in a non-Arab country 3,000 miles away. The answer lies in Riyadhâ€™s attempts to stem the growth of Islamist extremism in South East Asia, where earlier this month Isil-sponsored terrorists carried out attacks in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
Neighbouring Malaysia, with its predominantly Muslim population, has also been targeted by Islamist extremists, with Mr Najib among several Malaysian ministers to have been put on an Isil hit list.
Mr Najib has been praised for his courageous stand against Islamist extremists, and it is for this reason the Saudis decided to make the Â£479 million donation to help him win the election. As a senior Saudi source commented, â€œIt is not unusual for Saudi Arabia to make donations like this. It happens all the time to help moderate Muslim governments to remain in power so that they can provide regional security tackle the extremist threat.â€
At a time when Isil is using the millions of dollars it has seized from looted Arab banks and its lucrative oil-smuggling operations to fund the growth of extreme Islamic ideology, the Saudi initiative to fund moderate Muslim leaders could prove vital in curbing the growth of Islamist-inspired terrorism.