Within days of the murderous 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared before a joint session of Congress: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
Unfortunately, under the leadership of King Fahd (actual or nominal), Saudi Arabia demonstrated that it was possible to be with us and with the terrorists. Far from being regarded as a hostile regime, the United States has described the Saudi government as a valued "partner" in the war on terror, notwithstanding abundant evidence that it continues to harbor and support terrorism around the world - including inside the United States.
Indeed, under Fahd, whose death was officially announced on Monday (although he has been effectively incapacitated for years following a severe stroke), the Saudis perfected their double game: simultaneously being considered in Washington a friend of America while behaving all over the world as a supporter and financier of America's enemies.
Friends like These
A recitation of the evidence of Saudi solidarity with the United States usually starts with King Fahd's decision to allow American forces to use his territory to liberate Kuwait in 1991. Typically, it claims Saudi Arabia's cooperation on oil pricing. Some also point to the Saudis' assistance to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement in counterterrorism efforts post-9/11.
In fact, what the deployment of U.S. troops on Saudi soil in Operation Desert Shield amounted to was allowing us to defend them. When it has suited the Saudis to have cheaper oil - notably, when it looked (briefly) as though we might actually get serious about alternative energy sources - they forced prices down. When it has not, the Saudis have been fully prepared to help the OPEC cartel drive them up (including today when a barrel of oil it costs them at most two or three dollars to extract sells for nearly $60).
It is true that the Saudi royal family has lately become more concerned about its hold on power in the face of terror attacks inside the kingdom. Such concerns may produce a greater degree of mutuality of interest with the United States as relates to countering terrorist operations within Saudi Arabia. Even there, however, the transparency has been limited, as with, for example, American access to terror suspects in Saudi custody.
Far more important is the litany of things the Saudis have done - and continue to do - that encourage and enable terrorism against those (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) who do not embrace the ideology of the Saudi Islamofascist cult known as Wahhabism. A short list of these unfriendly activities includes the following:
Providing financial, organizational, logistical and other support for terrorists like Osama bin Laden. While the Saudi leadership doesn't want al Qaeda to launch any more attacks inside the kingdom, there is reason to believe that at least some among the 5,000 princes think underwriting its attacks elsewhere is the best way to prevent them at home.
Founding and running Wahhabi Islamofascist hate-factories in mosques and their associated schools (madrassas) all over the world. The Saudi-financed madrassas of Pakistan have been getting a lot of attention after British authorities identified them as places where the Leeds suicide bombers trained.
A superb study released in January by Freedom House documented that the Saudi government is also using American mosques - by some estimates 80% of which have their mortgages held by Saudi Arabian financial institutions - to promote jihad. Materials officially produced and disseminated to such mosques by the kingdom are filled with calls to hate Christians and Jews. Those who fail to conform are threatened with violent punishment as apostates. Saudi-trained and -selected clerics serve as enforcers in our mosques and in our prisons and military as recruiters for a rabidly anti-American Wahhabi creed.
Since the Saudi-engineered oil price spikes of the 1970s, the Saudis have also spent untold sums (they acknowledge expending some $80 billion in "foreign aid"; the actual total amount is surely far higher) building up a worldwide infrastructure of charities, businesses and front organizations. In the wake of the London bombings, several of these Saudi-backed front organizations have found it necessary to issue fatwas in Britain and the United States that purport to denounce terror.
More Double Games
As noted terrorism expert Stephen Emerson has reported (www.investigativeproject.org/FCNA-CAIR.html), however, some of these groups and individuals associated with them have been prominent supporters of - or, at the very least, apologists for - terrorist organizations. For example, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which organized a press conference to promote the U.S. version of the phony fatwa, has had no fewer than four of its associates convicted of providing financial or other forms of material support to terrorists.
It is no small irony that the new Saudi ambassador to the United States is a man who exemplifies his country's double game on terrorism: Prince Turki al-Faisal. For roughly twenty-five years, Turki was in charge of Saudi Arabia's intelligence operations. In that capacity, he was intimately familiar both with his country's efforts to promote Wahhabism (including supporting bin Laden's operations in Afghanistan) and its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States.
The Bottom Line
King Fahd's death, the mounting evidence of the danger posed by ongoing Saudi support for terror and the assignment to Washington of one of the kingdom's most experienced double-gamers should require Saudi Arabia finally to do what President Bush demanded nearly four years ago: The Saudis can no longer be with us and against us. They must be made to choose.