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Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the discovery that the majority of the hijackers involved in the decimation of the World Trade Center towers and the attack on the Pentagon were from Saudi Arabia, officials in Saudi announced that “charitable organizations would no longer be authorized to provide funds outside of Saudi Arabia, other than through highly controlled and government-supervised channels.” The argument by Saudi diplomats continues that after Sept. 11, “they had turned over a new leaf.”
Are the Saudis really as squeaky-clean as they claim, or are they playing a game of smoke and mirrors? Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal recently flew to the U.S. to ask that the still-classified information on the events of 9-11 be released. This trip came on the heels of the Saudi Ambassador’s vehement statement that his country had “nothing to hide.”
However, it is apparent that the Saudis have much to hide. Information gleaned from the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs hearing on “Origins, Organization and Prevention of Terrorist Finance” is rife with Saudi involvement in the funding of terrorist organizations that appear on the U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorists list – including al-Qaida and Hamas.
The Saudi foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah said on CNN’s “Crossfire,” “We do not allow funding to go from Saudi Arabia to Hamas.” On June 23, 2003, Prince al-Faisal reiterated to the Saudi daily Arab news that only the PLO as the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, received funding from his country.”
Unfortunately for his royal highness, the paper trail proves otherwise. The PLO was formed long before Sept. 11, 2001, yet during Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, a hand-written letter from Mahmoud Abbas to Prince Salman (brother of King Fahd) was found. It was dated Dec. 30, 2000. The letter included complaints from Abbas that Saudi donations were going to al-Jamiya (the Islamic Society), an arm of Hamas. Abbas wanted the funds for Fatah, his own organization.
Are there still connections between Saudi Arabia and Hamas? In October 2002, Khaled Mashal, one of the top leaders of Hamas, was invited to Saudi Arabia for a World Assembly of Muslim Youth conference. Another captured document revealed the information that Mashal had been invited to the conference by Crown Prince Abdullah. At the time, Hamas firmly refused to halt terror attacks while being assured by Saudi officials of their continued support.
On June 3, 2003, President George Bush met with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain at Sharm al-Sheik. Following the meeting, Bush announced that all had committed themselves “to use all means to cut off assistance to terrorist groups.”
In spite of this declaration of intent, even today – according to Israeli sources – Saudi Arabia contributes more than 50 percent of the needs of Hamas through dual-use charities. That assures the charities that funnel money to fund terrorist activities are still helped. And the amount of foreign aid is growing, not declining. Families of suicide bombers are still rewarded with aid.
What should be done to establish the link between Saudi Arabia and terrorist groups once and for all? The classified information regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in funding terrorists should be declassified. No government that aids and abets the heinous activities of terrorists should be allowed to escape culpability.
The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal also told Bush, according to an intelligence source, to “back away from demanding that the Palestine Authority dismantle militant [terrorist] groups immediately,” referring to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The administration has agreed for the present time. Indeed, not only the roadmap for peace has been sabotaged by the Saudis, but also the Bush doctrine on terrorism which states that those who “harbor or support terror” are enemies of the United States. This will send a signal to the terrorist regimes that America has changed its policy and is willing to negotiate with terrorists.