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Saudi Arabia has transferred $500 million to al-Qaida over the past decade and continues to finance Osama bin Laden’s terror network in the wake of Sept. 11, according to a report prepared for the United Nations.
Middle East Newsline reports the findings of a French investigator asked to study the issue by Colombia, which occupies the presidency of the U.N. Security Council, indicate Saudi dollars still represent the most important source of financing for al-Qaida.
The 34-page report also finds that, despite pressure from the United States and adamant claims to the contrary, Riyad has failed to turn off the spigot.
“One must question the real ability and willingness of the kingdom to exercise any control over the use of religious money in and outside of the country,” investigator Jean-Charles Brisard concluded.
Brisard was the expert on al-Qaida in France’s intelligence service. He has worked as a consultant over the last year. His clients include the relatives of victims of the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington who filed a $1 trillion lawsuit last April against the Saudi royal family, other wealthy Saudis and Saudi charities.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Saudis mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to deflect accusations amid the revelation that donations from Princess Haifa bint Faisal ended up in the hands of Sept. 11 hijackers.
The kingdom is breaking records with its public-relations spending in America, forking out $15 million in one six-month period last year alone.
“We have been vigilant in trying to choke off the financing for terrorists and those who engage in terrorism, because we believe that the most important part in the international effort against terrorism is to choke them of their financing and to handicap their abilities to do damage to innocent people,” said
Adel al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., in December.
Al-Jubeir insists Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are “partners” in the war on terror. As of December, the Saudi government closed thirty-three bank accounts belonging to three individuals and one institution due to suspected ties to terrorists, over 2,000 people were questioned and more than 100 were in detention.
According to Brisard’s report quoted by MENL, a key obstacle to the Saudi pledge to stop financing al-Qaida is the lack of a definition of terrorism and legitimate charities. The report said prominent Saudi
charities regarded as legitimate by the kingdom continue to finance groups deemed as terrorist by the European Union and the U.S.
U.S. authorities are investigating payments made by Princess Haifa, the daughter of the late King Faisal and wife of Saudi envoy Prince Bandar.
The payments approached reportedly $150,000. They were made to a woman who passed on the checks to the wife of a man thought to be the front man for the Sept. 11 terrorists, and then ultimately wound up in the hands of two al-Qaida operatives who later became hijackers.
According to the Islamic tenet on charity, Muslims are required to donate 10 percent of their funds.
According to al-Jubeir, between 90 and 95 percent of charities in Saudi Arabia operate only domestically, and three large non-governmental charities based in Saudi Arabia operate internationally. He said these are now required to coordinate their international activities with the foreign ministry.
Al-Jubeir also said the Saudis had set up a high commission for oversight of charities, which was conducting audits.
Six Saudi Islamic charities are contesting the suit filed by relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, allocating $1 million to cover initial costs, according to Riyad-based Arab News.
One former federal prosecutor maintains the U.S. continues to look the other way when it comes to Saudi financing of terror.
John Loftus claims the Saudi government has used charities as a front for sponsoring terrorist groups in the Middle East for 15 years, and that the U.S. government has provided cover for the kingdom’s covert operation.
Loftus investigated CIA cases and Nazi war criminals for the attorney general during the Carter and Reagan administrations and exposed Nazis on the U.S. government payroll in 1982.
Last August, he filed a civil suit against University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian, accusing him of using state-regulated charities to launder and funnel Saudi government money to
terrorist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
WND reported last week that Loftus’ suit was boosted by a 50-count criminal indictment. Federal agents arrested al-Arian and accused him of being the North American point man and treasurer for Islamic Jihad, the global terror ring responsible for the deaths of 100 people in and around Israel, including two Americans.
The indictment charges al-Arian, two other former and current instructors at USF and five other individuals with operating a criminal racketeering enterprise that provided funding and organization for Islamic Jihad. Attorney General John Ashcroft described the group as having set up a terror cell at USF in Tampa, Fla.
Loftus asserts federal authorities continue to cover up the Saudi role in financing terror, as it has since 1995 when al-Arian’s activities first hit investigators’ radar screens. Loftus cites confidential intelligence sources and declassified documents in his claim that the White House and State Department ordered the al-Arian investigation shut down.
Loftus pointed out that the indictment mentions funding from Iran but not Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudi funding is a matter of public record. It’s clear from numerous sources,” Loftus told WND. “Ashcroft conveniently omitted that fact. … It’s childish.”