Last Friday, President Bush certified Saudi Arabia as a cooperative anti-terrorism ally and released U.S. financial aid to Riyadh. This occurred despite charges leveled against the “Kingdom” by Stuart Levey, the U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, who one day after the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, declared that Saudi Arabia had failed to prosecute terrorism financiers.
Levey voiced frustration that not a single terrorist supporter identified by Washington had been prosecuted by the Saudis.
“If I could snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,” a frustrated Levey told the press. “When the evidence is clear that these individuals have funded terror organizations . . . then that should be prosecuted and treated as real terrorism because it is.”
Levey leads an office which marshals the Treasury Department's policy, enforcement, regulatory and intelligence functions to sever the lines of financial support to international terrorists, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, narcotics traffickers, and other threats to our national security. Yet, the United States blithely ignored the very person with the best information whose job is to help stop terrorism and safeguard our country.
Instead, we are providing U.S. aid to the world’s top oil-producing country which is also coincidentally the main financial and ideological sponsor of Wahhabism or Islamic extremism. This austere form of Islam insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran and spreads the belief that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. In effect, we are funding our enemies. Even more outrageous, we are funding wealthy enemies: a resource-rich country that is the largest source of financing for Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists who have murdered hundreds of Americans and Israelis.
The extent of Saudia Arabia’s wealth frequently makes headlines. Recently, Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family, sold a 5% share of the Kingdom Holding Company, one of the largest investment companies in the world, for more than two and a half times its initial public offering valuation. As a member of the Saudi royal family, Al-Walid holds assets estimated at $20.3 billion and is deemed by Forbes Magazine as the 13th wealthiest person in the world. The prince’s major holdings include Citibank, AOL, Apple, Inc., Worldcom, Motorola, News Corp, Planet Hollywood, and numerous other companies. He alone is the largest foreign investor in New York and his extensive real estate holdings including upscale hotel chains and resorts. In July of 2005, Talal donated $20 million to the Louvre in Paris, the largest donation ever received by the museum, for the construction of a wing to house Islamic art.
In recent years, Talal has used his financial clout to influence American foreign policy, shape media portrayals and promote Islamist ideology. Following the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, Al-Walid offered a $10 million donation to New York City toward relief efforts and suggested that the U.S. should reexamine its allegedly pro-Israel policies in the Middle East as the root cause of the attacks. The donation was turned down.
Prince Talal gave $500,000 to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an un-indicted co-conspirator in the funding of Hamas, for distribution to American public libraries of books that sanitize Islam and terrorist organization activities. One book declares that terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah were placed on the U.S. government’s terrorist list, not because of their well-documented terrorist operations, but because of the pro-Israel bias of American leaders.
During the 2005 Muslim riots in France, Prince Talal, the fifth largest shareholder of the parent company of Fox News, called network chief Rupert Murdoch and demanded that a screen banner identifying the unrest as “Muslim riots” be changed to “civil riots.” The Prince maintained that the U.S. media is too pro-Israel and he encouraged the Arab world and media to do more to counter this tendency.
Further, Prince Talal has tried to influence U.S. Middle East policy by donating $20 million each to Harvard University and Georgetown University, among the largest university donations in history, to finance Islamic studies and create a pro-Islamic environment among future and current policy leaders. From a country that ironically routinely punishes practitioners of Christianity, he declared that his primary reason for bestowing the gifts was the promotion of “Muslim-Christian” understanding.
Of grave concern is another donation by the Prince to the Saudi Committee for the Support of the al-Quds Intifada for $27 million given in 2002. Although committee leadership attempted to portray the gift as assistance for Arab-Palestinian families resisting the “occupation,” documents captured by the Israel Defense Forces indicated that the funds were payoffs for suicide bombings used as enticements to murder by Hamas. A Saudi-government cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Buraik, stated to television audiences viewing the 2002 fundraising telethon, “I am against America until this life ends…She is the root of all evils and wickedness on Earth…” He further urged listeners to pillage the Jews, enslave their women and wage all-out jihad.
The travesty of U.S. funding for a wealthy terrorist-sponsoring nation is further demonstrated by a 2005 study, “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques” by Freedom House, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to advance the worldwide expansion of political and economic freedom. Freedom House researchers found that over 80% of U.S. mosques had been radicalized by Saudi-appointed, Wahhabist imams and ideology. These Saudi-trained clerics, the ideological arm of the royal family, advocate the rejection of Christianity and Judaism, the full application of the Sharia or Islamic law in America, hatred of non-believers, renunciation of allegiance to America and the waging of jihad by all Muslims against infidels.
It is indeed troubling that U.S. leaders overlook the role that the Saudi government plays in supporting terrorism worldwide and the spreading of extremist ideology within America. It is the height of irony that while Saudia Arabia bans churches and arrests Christians praying in private homes, it is also freely funding a fifth column inside America in the form of “religious” instruction. For President Bush to praise Saudi Arabia as an “anti-terrorism” ally while Saudi-funded efforts within our borders are undermining and threatening our very existence as a free nation, nullifies American counter-terrorism measures and ignores the warnings of those charged with protecting us. Such a decision dangerously ignores reality and courts our own destruction.