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CIA honors Saudi for fighting terror, despite nation's terror ties

The seal of the CIA at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia.

A member of the Saudi royal family has received an award from the CIA for his contributions to fighting terrorism.

In a move that was not widely reported in the U.S., CIA Director Mike Pompeo last weekend gave Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia the George Tenet medal in recognition of the prince’s “excellent intelligence performance in the domain of counterterrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace.”

While the U.K.’s Independent reports bin Nayef has worked to crack down on al-Qaida’s operations in Saudi Arabia, the Arab kingdom has a checkered history of intermittent support for and opposition to terrorism.

Philip Haney, a retired Department of Homeland Security officer who specialized in Islamic theology and the strategy and tactics of the global Islamic movement, said the CIA had to overlook a remarkable amount of “derogatory information” to honor a Saudi leader for fighting terrorism.

“Since 9/11, the terms of our relationship with Saudi Arabia have been defined by the Saudis, not by the U.S.,” Haney told WND. “To gain Saudi support in the ‘War on Terror,’ one of the first post-9/11 compromises America made with the Saudis was to redact the now-infamous ’28 pages’ from the 9/11 Commission Report, thus shielding and/or exonerating them from any involvement or responsibility.

“A second compromise we made with our Wahhabi partners in peace was to ignore their decades-long role in the funding and support of thousands of pro-jihad madrassas throughout the Eastern Hemisphere.

“Nor should we overlook Saudi Arabia’s on-again, off-again support of Hamas, a close Muslim Brotherhood affiliate and globally designated Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. Despite Saudi Arabia’s earlier 2014 designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, on July 17, 2015, King Salman of Saudi Arabia met with top Hamas leaders, including Qatar resident and political leader Khaled Meshal, thus publicly revealing his willingness to work with known Islamist terrorist organizations.”

One year ago, as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump referenced the 28 pages that were redacted from the 9/11 commission report and suggested on multiple occasions the Saudis may have been behind the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. And yet, once he became president, Trump did not include Saudi Arabia in his now-infamous travel ban.

What’s more, when Pompeo gave his opening remarks after being confirmed as Trump’s CIA director, he did not mention Saudi Arabia, or any Sunni Muslim country, among the threats the U.S. faces.

He cited Russia and China as “sophisticated adversaries” in the cyber realm, and he listed Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, ISIS’s hold over major urban areas and the conflict in Syria as major global threats.

Trump and Pompeo appear to be continuing the long tradition of treating Saudi Arabia as an ally despite its past associations with terrorism.

“The one-sided quid pro quo alliance between America and Saudi Arabia is remarkably similar to the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between Turkey and Europe, and the West, to overlook the Armenian genocide for the sake of peace and political and economic stability,” Haney said.

Haney, co-author of the book “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad,” noted the Saudis exercise tremendous influence over the American government.

Last April, for example, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell up to $750 billion in U.S. assets if the U.S. Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would have made it possible to prosecute Saudi officials in American courts for their roles in 9/11 or other terrorism cases.

President Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, voiced the administration’s opposition to the bill at the time, and Obama eventually vetoed it, although Congress overrode his veto.

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But during the debate over the bill in April 2016, Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia seeking to ease tensions created by JASTA. The Washington Post reported at the time that the Obama administration had “sold the Saudis more than $95 billion in military hardware over the past several years, and Saudi intelligence has been essential to the counterterrorism fight against al-Qaida and the Islamic State.”

Haney said he can think of several possible reasons why Pompeo would give a Saudi prince an anti-terrorism medal.

It may have been intended to signal to Iran that the U.S. is openly siding with the Sunni Islamic world. Or maybe it was an acknowledgement of the Saudi-led coalition in the ongoing war in Yemen, which began in March 2015 with U.S.-supported air strikes. Or maybe it was a gesture of thanks for Saudi Arabia’s ground-support role in Syria after Obama authorized the CIA to begin secretly arming Syrian rebels in 2013.

Here, however, things get complicated, because a year later Saudi Arabia designated two of the opposition groups the CIA was initially supporting in Syria as terrorist organizations.

“On March 7, 2014, Saudi Arabia formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, ‘in a move that could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies,'” said Haney, quoting Reuters. “However, as reported in Reuters, ‘the U.S.-allied kingdom has also designated as terrorist the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.'”

Haney believes the U.S. needs to reconsider its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“We should always put our own sovereignty first. We should emphasize energy independence, which would allow us to evaluate our relationship with countries like Saudi Arabia with a much clearer perspective.”

William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, said he was “flat-out shocked” when Pompeo flew to the Middle East during his first month on the job and handed the George Tenet Medal for counter-terrorism work to the man next in line as “dictator” of Saudi Arabia.

“If this award was joke, it was a bad one,” Murray said. “All the major terror organizations, including al-Qaida, al-Nusra, the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Taliban, have at one time or another been supported in some way from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 Islamic terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was from Saudi Arabia and his family still runs major businesses there.

“Virtually all the financing for Sunni Muslim terrorist groups comes from Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Muslim gulf states. The Saudi intelligence services financed and armed the Sunni gangs that started the Syrian Civil War in 2011.”

Murray, author of “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning,” pointed out virtually all Islamic terror is Sunni, with Hezbollah being the only Shia terror group. But Murray said Hezbollah is not in the same league as other Muslim terror groups because Hezbollah attacks military, not civilian, targets and operates hospitals in Lebanon.

“In fact, there has never been, to my knowledge, a Shia Muslim terror attack on civilians in Europe or the United States,” Murray asserted. “On the other hand, every terror attack in America has been Sunni Muslim and has had some ties to Saudi Arabia. By some ties, I mean either direct, or the terrorists attended Sunni Muslim mosques associated in some way with Saudi Arabia.”

Murray places the blame for this award squarely on Pompeo.

“I don’t think President Trump ordered Pompeo to go to Saudi Arabia,” Murray said. “I do not believe that President Trump was aware that Pompeo was going to give Prince Abdulaziz this prestigious CIA medal. Rather, I believe that CIA Director Pompeo has been in the pocket of the Saudi royal family since his time on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House. It was his duty to oversee the CIA and now he runs it.

“Just as was true under the Bush and Obama administrations, the Saudis can do no wrong in the eyes of the CIA. Every briefing that President Trump receives will pump up the Saudi royals. I pray that the president will watch his Twitter account and read about the human rights abuses of the Saudi royals and their devastating war on the civilians in Yemen. Frankly, I don’t know how Director Pompeo can sleep at night.”

Your government is not doing all it can to protect you – hear it straight from a DHS whistleblower. Get “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad” now at the WND Superstore!