WASHINGTON – Strong, pro-defense conservatives are divided: Is Saudi Arabia an ally or an enemy of the United States?
Radical Islam expert Paul Sperry makes no bones about where he stands.
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"If a foreign country commits an act of war against you, they are not your ally or your friend no matter who they are. They are your enemy, and they should be treated as such, especially when that enemy continues to fund jihad and build radical mosques and propagate anti-Western hate," Sperry emphatically told WND.
That was in response to the question: In light of what seems like considerable evidence of Saudi government support of the 9/11 hijackers, and in light of their continuing support and export of wahhabism ( a form of radical Islam), is that government an ally or an enemy?
WND asked Sperry that question because he has been collecting a wealth of evidence of Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks on America.
In fact, the simmering question on whether the Saudis are friend or foe erupted into a blistering debate in Washington after Sperry wrote a bombshell article in the New York Post on Sunday, based on well-placed government sources, directly tying Prince Bandar bin Sultan to the 9/11 conspiracy. Bandar was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. If Bandar was involved, it would likely mean support for the 9/11 attacks went to the highest levels of the Saudi government.
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Conservative opinion is divided on how to respond.
- Marc Thiessen: The former speechwriter for President George W. Bush said on Fox on Monday, " We already know that Saudi Arabia was turning a blind eye to terror and was even, in some ways, complicit in terror. But President Bush gave an ultimatum to the world, he said you are either with us or you are with the terrorists, and he gave a choice to countries like Saudi Arabia and they choose to be with us, and they're now a very important counter-terrorism partner."
- Dr. Sebastian Gorka: On the same program, the Marine Corps University professor said, " We know that elements of the regime have been supporting or funding jihadi organizations around the world ... It doesn't mean as a government they're all bad guys. They're just conflicted and they're schizophrenic. They need to get their house in order and decide whether they can clean internally their house, and make sure they're on our side against the jihadists."
- Clare Lopez: The vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, who is also a member of the national security advisory team for GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, told WND on Monday, "The Saudi regime is a 'frenemy' ... U.S. leaders need to make very clear to Riyadh that, yes, we share certain key objectives ... (but) Riyadh must choose: We are willing to work with them on mutual objectives but will no longer tolerate a double game. Decide – or there will be consequences."
Sperry goes further, telling WND it is time to cut ties with the Saudis.
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"Our relationship with Saudi Arabia has always been a snake pit, but now more than ever, it’s time to slam the lid shut on that snake pit," he reflected unequivocally.
"Thanks to fracking, the Saudi oil sheiks no longer have the monopoly they once had and no longer have the same leverage over us, although they still buy off a hell of a lot of politicians and threaten, and scare off, a fair amount of journalists."
He insisted Washington has to stop sharing top secret intelligence with the regime, stop sending them weapons systems, and "stop rubber-stamping visas for young Saudi men so they can infiltrate our country like the hijackers, as Obama has been doing to the tune of tens of thousands of new visas."
"There hasn’t been the political will to do it -- to stop appeasing and kowtowing to the Saudis -- but I think the tide may finally be turning now."
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Sperry is the former WND Washington bureau chief, former Hoover Institution media fellow, and author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington,” and the WND book, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America."
His article in the Post charged "the U.S. covered up the Saudi role in 9/11" and that case agents he has interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces said "virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles."
Sperry told WND, "It’s no coincidence that the Saudi minister of religion and mosques happened to be staying at the same Dulles airport hotel as those 5 Saudi hijackers the night before they flew out of Dulles and attacked the Pentagon."
"There is no doubt in my mind that officials working at the time in the Saudi Embassy in Washington and the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles, at a minimum, knew about the 9/11 plot as early as 2000, if not earlier, and there is a ton of circumstantial evidence that some of them actually facilitated the attacks based on phone records, financial transactions and other evidence," he added.
In his article, Sperry reported that well-placed sources told him the 28 pages "missing from the 9/11 congressional inquiry report — which comprise the entire final chapter dealing with 'foreign support for the September 11 hijackers' — detail 'incontrovertible evidence' gathered from both CIA and FBI case files of official Saudi assistance for at least two of the Saudi hijackers who settled in San Diego."
He asserted the Saudis' "involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government."
For what it called reasons of “national security,” the Bush administration removed 28 pages of the bipartisan “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” that was published in 2002.
What makes the remarks by Sperry so timely is the growing bipartisan pressure on President Obama to release classified information from the 9/11 Commission findings that reportedly implicates the government of Saudi Arabia in supporting the 9/11 hijackers and helping them execute the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
Republicans and Democrats, including lawmakers who have read the redacted pages, are calling on Obama to release the information. Obama is resisting, apparently because that could seriously rupture diplomatic relations with the Saudis at a time when they are officially portrayed as U.S. allies in fighting ISIS.
"I’m told there’s enough evidence in those 28 pages to bring indictments against Saudi officials who were living in America at the time," Sperry told WND. "Were they operating on orders from Riyadh? That's what a proper investigation would have answered. but the fix was in."
Did his sources tell him the redacted pages directly implicate Prince Bandar?
"He’s implicated mainly through his wife Haifa, under whose names most of the checks (to the plotters) were written, although I understand the former ambassador is mentioned as well," he said. "Princess Haifa al-Faisal’s brother is the former Saudi intelligence minister who met with Osama bin Laden before 9/11 and who mysteriously stepped down as Saudi intel chief on Aug. 31, 2001, just days before the attacks."
Had any other sources confirmed the accusation in his article by former FBI agent John Guandolo that the Saudi ambassador funded two of the 9/11 hijackers through a third party?
"The checks to one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers totaled at least $130,000 and were drawn on a Bandar household account at Riggs Bank, which has since dropped the Saudis as a client because so much al-Qaida funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy," Sperry replied.
Additionally, "The embassy transactions were generating so many SAR’s — Suspicious Activity Reports — that Riggs got crosswise with its regulators at Treasury and had to close the accounts due to all the red flags over terrorist financing."
If former ambassador Bandar was involved in supporting the 9/11 hijackers, what should the U.S. response be?
"He’s long gone, but his money isn’t. I’m told he still has assets in the US."
Had any sources said whether the evidence shows this was a rogue endeavor by Bandar or that he was executing official Saudi policy?
"The evidence is overwhelming the Saudis sponsored at least the Pentagon part of the 9/11 conspiracy -- that is, the hijacker cell that attacked the Pentagon. Which by the way, and this is important, but the Pentagon cell was the only cell of the four hijacker cells that was comprised exclusively of Saudi nationals. Unlike the other cells, it was 100 percent Saudi."
That led Sperry to an interesting conclusion.
"This was the operation that had the highest degree of difficulty, required the best pilot, and the one that the Saudis would have had the most control over. That’s one of the reasons I suspect the Pentagon was actually the main target on 9/11."
He said that could be confirmed by releasing the 28 pages redacted from the 9/11 Commission report, because, he suggested, it contains so many damning details. And he described Saudi involvement in the attacks on America as not just incidental, but central to the plot.
"It’s that same all-Saudi cell that is the focus of the censored section of the congressional Joint Inquiry report dealing with 'foreign support for the 9/11 terrorists.' The government redacted roughly 7,200 words over those 28 pages detailing Saudi money flows, Saudi personnel, Saudi organizing and Saudi ideological support involving that one all-Saudi Pentagon cell."
"Hell," he continued with incredulity, "their Saudi handlers even threw a party for the hijackers in San Diego, greeting and treating them as if they were some kind of celebrities. This particular cell, which again was stacked with 5 Saudis, is the one that got the VIP treatment from coast to coast, from consulate to embassy."
Sperry further described extensive pre-planning of the attacks.
"Saudis forward-deployed a number of radical clerics here in the run-up to Sept. 11, 2001, installing them at the Saudi embassy and the Los Angeles consulate and other consulates while giving them diplomatic cover and pretending they were legitimate employees. Of course, they weren’t diplomats at all -- they in fact were recruiters and trainers and groomers of jihadists including the hijackers."
In the Post article detailing how the federal government, including the FBI, stonewalled investigators trying to catch the plotters after the 9/11 attacks, Sperry explained how, "Even Anwar al-Awlaki, the hijackers’ spiritual adviser, escaped our grasp. In 2002, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was detained at JFK on passport fraud charges only to be released into the custody of a 'Saudi representative.'"
He told WND how the notorious terrorist infiltrated the U.S.
"Many of them worked out of a Saudi Islamic center in northern Virginia chaired by Bandar. One of the lecturers there happened to be Anwar al-Awlaki, who was the American field commander for the hijackers."
One thing is for certain. Awlaki will never be interrogated and investigators will never learn his account of the 9/11 plot.
He was killed by the CIA in a drone strike in 2011.