Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Saudis Said to Increase Help to Al Qaeda

by David Bedein

In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, left, meets Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, at the Red Sea city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia on Aug. 28. A recent report by the institute for Gulf Affairs shows that the Saudi royal family may be increasing its aid to the terrorist organization al-Qaida. (Associated Press)

JERUSALEM - Exactly eight years after al-Qaida terrorists dispatched 18 Saudis to crash American commercial airlines into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the The Institute for Gulf Affairs has published a study that accuses the Saudi royal family of increasing aid to al-Qaida terror

The study asserts that the Saudi royal family has encouraged young Saudis to fight Islamic wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. “The Saudi government has been contributing to the increase in terrorist activities in the years since 9/11 [Sept. 11, 2001],” the report, titled “The Saudi Terror Problem on the Rise Since September 11,” said. The report, citing open sources, said that up to 60 percent of foreign Islamist fighters in Iraq were Saudi nationals. The percentage was said to reflect Saudi policy to destabilize Iraq, dominated by the Shi'ite community.

“The main reason for the high number of Saudi suicide bombers and terrorists in Iraq is the Saudi official policy that supports instability in Iraq,” the report said. “In addition to Saudi officials, major Saudi clerics are part of the recruitment and funding of the insurgency in Iraq. Wahabi clerics, both working for the government or those with close ties with the Saudi ruling family, play a leading role in sustaining the flow of hundreds of Saudi suicide bombers to Iraq and in sending millions of dollars to support them.”

The report also says that Saudi Arabia has dispatched fighters to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the war against NATO. The report cited support by leading Saudi clerics for Taliban as well as fundraising for the Afghan rebel movement in Saudi Arabia.

“Privately obtained reports by the Gulf Institute confirm that members of the Afghan and Pakistani expatriate community in Saudi Arabia are raising funds for the Taliban inside the kingdom,” the report said. “Meetings frequently take place in the central and western regions of Saudi Arabia on farms outside Riyad and other cities. Al Qaida and Taliban recruitment networks in Saudi Arabia remain intact, as indicated by the arrival of dozens of new Saudi fighters who join the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“In addition to receiving fresh supplies of Saudi fighters, al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan receive millions of dollars in funds from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar,” the report added. “Saudi Arabia has not merely contributed fighters, it has also contributed financing to the Taliban.”

The institute study concludes that Saudi Arabia has failed to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban recruitment and fundraising networks despite Riyad's alliance with the United States. Washington, which approved more than $10 billion in arms deals with Riyad in 2008, has been the leading weapons supplier to Saudi Arabia.

“The United States also failed to persuade or pressure the Saudi government to deal with the root causes of terrorism and extremism,” the report said. “Instead, the U.S. gave the Saudi ruling family unconditional support, including training hundreds of its security forces by U.S. trainers, and providing state-of-the-art technology, which is used to silence political and democratic opponents.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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