The current issue of U.S. News & World Report features an informative article, “The Saudi Connection: How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network,” based on five months of research, “a review of thousands of pages of court records, U.S. and foreign intelligence reports, and other documents,” and in-depth interviews with “more than three dozen current and former counterterrorism officers, as well as government officials and outside experts in Riyadh.” It’s ten pages long, so here are some highlights:
– U.S. intelligence officials knew about Saudi Arabia’s role in funding terrorism by 1996, yet for years Washington did almost nothing to stop it. Examining the Saudi role in terrorism, a senior intelligence analyst says, was “virtually taboo.” Even after the embassy bombings in Africa, moves by counterterrorism officials to act against the Saudis were repeatedly rebuffed by senior staff at the State Department and elsewhere….
The Saudi funding program … is “the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever mounted”–dwarfing the Soviets’ propaganda efforts at the height of the Cold War.
– Saudi donors sent $150 million through Islamic aid organizations to Bosnia in 1994 alone…. A CIA investigation found that a third of the Islamic charities in the Balkans … had “facilitated the activities of Islamic groups that engage in terrorism,” including plots to kidnap or kill U.S. personnel.
– The agency identified over 50 Islamic charities engaged in international aid and found that, as in the Balkans, fully a third of them were tied to terrorist groups. … “Even high-ranking members of the collecting or monitoring agencies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Pakistan–such as the Saudi High Commission–are involved in illicit activities, including support for terrorists.”
– The CIA found that the IIRO was funding “six militant training camps in Afghanistan,” where Riyadh was backing a then obscure sect called the Taliban….
– They receive substantial funds from the government and members of the royal family and make use of the Islamic affairs offices of Saudi embassies abroad.
– Electronic intercepts of conversations implicated members of the royal family in backing not only al Qaeda but also other terrorist groups….
…[I]n many of the jihad struggles, Washington was neutral, as in Kashmir, or even supportive, as in Bosnia. When Saudi money began financing jihadists headed to Chechnya, Washington responded with “a wink and a nod,” as one analyst put it. Continue reading “The Roots of Global Terror”