Saudi ‘payoffs’ to bin Laden documented

By WND Staff

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Authorities in Saudi Arabia paid cash to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s, according to intelligence sources. The money was traced from a bank in the kingdom to accounts run by Osama outside of Saudi Arabia.

The cash was intended as “payoffs” to bin Laden, who in the early 1990s was stripped of Saudi citizenship because of his backing for Islamist terrorism in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials said the payments were not intended as support for bin Laden’s activities but were used as a payoff for al-Qaida not to conduct operations against the Saudi royal family. The amounts are said to have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars but the exact figure could not be learned.

The current status of the Saudi funding is not known but U.S. officials said they believe the funding stopped after al-Qaida’s attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

The payments were similar to other cash payments made covertly to other terrorist groups with the aim of preventing attacks on Saudi leaders.

A CIA report to Congress made public last month stated that the Saudi royal family is facing “increasingly open challenges to its control.”

“These include opposition from disparate elements hostile to the Al Saud [family] and the U.S. military presence, lack of job creation, a rapidly growing population and over reliance on oil income for government budget revenues,” the report said.

One senior intelligence official said the kingdom’s future is not bright and that the royal family could be ousted within five years.


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