Sowing Terror

By jpost.com | by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld
Wednesday, February 9th, 2005 @ 5:57AM

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President George W. Bush is unlikely to achieve his goals of “eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder” and settling the Arab-Israeli conflict so long as his administration does not recognize the role Saudi Arabia’s “charities” have had in feeding Palestinian terrorism. In her January 18 confirmation hearing, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice emphasized that “Arab states must join to deny any help or solace to those who take the path of violence.” However, at the same time she added: “We didn’t understand the role of nongovernmental organizations [that were] carrying out or funding terrorist activities. Others didn’t understand that in the Muslim world, like the Saudis.” But according to the former director for transnational threats at the National Security Council, Lee Wolosky, this is not exactly the case. “The US government,” says Wolosky, “had a clear understanding prior to 9/11 of the role that Saudi-based organizations and individuals played in financing terrorism. The Saudis also had a clear understanding of this, since we told them about it.” Indeed, Saudi Arabia publicly supported suicide bombing in Israel.

In September 2000, Saudi Arabia conducted two well-publicized national telethons for the specified purpose of raising funds for the families of Palestinian terrorists. When the first telethon raised only $10.8 million for the “Palestinian martyrs,” King Fahd ordered another one, urging “Saudis, expatriates, and private companies to contribute generously.” The Saudi minister of the interior, Prince Nayef bin Abd al-Aziz, also called for contributions, proclaiming that this telethon “is a continuation and assertion of the kingdom’s support [for the intifada].” The second telethon’s take included donations of $2.7 million from King Fahd, $1.35 million from Crown Prince Abdullah, and $800,000 from Defense Minister Prince Sultan – and totaled $163.3 million. Altogether the two telethons raised, openly and publicly, $174 million for families of suicide bombers, including members of Hamas and the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. In March 2002, the Saudi government English weekly Ain-al-Yaqeen bragged that the royal family and the Saudi kingdom had spent billions of dollars “to spread Islam to every corner of the earth.” Their “charities” distributed the money. According to Ain-al-Yaqeen, the Islamic Center in Brussels, Belgium, received a total of more than $5 million; the Islamic Center in Geneva, Switzerland, receives annual support of close to $7 million; and the biggest Islamic Center in Europe, which the Saudis built in Madrid, Spain, received close to $8 million in total. The Saudi kingdom’s efforts, under the leadership of King Fahd bin Abd al-Aziz, “has been astronomical, amounting to many billions of Saudi Riyals… [resulting in] 210 Islamic centers… more than 1,500 mosques and 202 colleges… And 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia.” These are the same mosques, schools and Islamic centers that preach the destruction of the US and Israel. Islamic centers in Spain, England, Germany, Italy and other European countries have been identified as serving al-Qaida and Hamas. Likewise, official Palestinian documents discovered by the Israeli Defense Forces in April 2002 included a list of Saudi donations of at least $280,000 to Palestinian organizations that the US itself had linked to Hamas.

On February 2003, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center Web site (www.intelligence.org.il) published additional captured documents on Saudi money transfers to Hamas and other terrorist groups. These official Palestinian documents detailed Saudi contributions to the Islamic Association, a Hamas-affiliated organization in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic Association, which identifies itself as a charitable organization, is dedicated to teaching kindergarteners “to hate Israel, to wage a ‘holy war’ against it and to carry out suicide attack against civilians.” These are only a few examples of the mountains of evidence provided by the Israelis to the US government. How, then, can Rice claim neither the US government nor the Saudis knew that “charitable organizations” were used to fund terrorism? Expert testimonies since 9/11 in Congress have identified many other Saudi charities as financing al-Qaida, Hamas and other Islamist terror organizations. The sheer volume of evidence presented led to US pressure on the Saudis, who, only after being attacked by “deviant” al-Qaida members in Riyadh in 2003, took measures to rein in some of the charities. “They [the Saudis] just did not do too much about the problem until later – not until they themselves were hit in May 2003,” says Mr. Wolosky. The 9/11 Commission concurred that, in Saudi Arabia, “charitable giving… until recently [was] subject to very limited oversight.”

In June 2004, a new Saudi National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad was belatedly established to oversee all Saudi charitable donations abroad. However, Saudi support of the spread of Wahhabism has not diminished. Even now Saudi state television continues to broadcast incendiary sermons from Medina to the rest of the world, in which the likes of Sheikh Saleh Bdeir preach that “the enemies of Islam, the Jews, Christians, [and] atheists… never cease attacking the Islamic nation” and exhort their followers to “confront your enemies… before these enemies become stronger.” Not surprisingly, Wolosky stresses that “reasonable people continue to differ on whether [the Saudis] are doing enough now, and whether the United States is pushing them hard enough.” If the US is to achieve regional security and stability in the Middle East it is not enough to call on the Saudis to “expand” the freedom of their people, as the president did in his State of the Union address. For that, the US administration will have to be more vigilant in holding the Saudis responsible for spreading oppressive Wahhabism through the media and its “charities.” The US should also have condemned a statement at an event honoring Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan, at a Saudi “counterterrorism conference,” of all places, claiming that Osama bin Laden was “sent by the Jews.”


Categories: U.S. Policy

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