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Jewish World Review
August 12, 2004
/ 25 Menachem-Av, 5764
Pursuing Terror's Financiers: Time to Get Serious About The Saudi Connection
Neal M. Sher
The former Director of the Office of Special Investigation in the US Justice Department wants to know why we must wait for a Hamas inspired, Saudi rewarded catastrophe to hit at home before we truly take seriously the threat posed by Saudi backing of terrorism
There is no way to sugar coat it: Saudi Arabia has for years been engaged
in a criminal conspiracy to give aid, comfort and material support to mass
murderers. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the highly
publicized announcement by Attorney General Ashcroft that a Dallas-based
"charity", the Holy Land Foundation and seven of its official had been
indicted for supporting the Hamas terrorist organization. The Saudi
government, our supposed ally, has in reality been the Holy Land
Foundation's partner in crime.
With an elevated terror alert, more stringent security measures and
election day approaching, one cannot avoid wondering whether we are on
the brink of another disaster as horrific as 9/11 or worse. As we cope with
the prospect of a repeat calamity, we would do well to remember that the
sophisticated and complex hijacking operation of three years ago is not the
only form of terrorism against which we must guard. Indeed, many experts
have long been warning that the this country is dangerously vulnerable to
the types of individual suicide bombings to which Israel has been
subjected for years and which we now see on an almost daily basis in Iraq.
It is within this context that the Justice Department deserves much credit
for Holy Land indictment. Echoing President Bush's post-9/11
declaration of an all out military, diplomatic and law enforcement war on
terror, General Ashcroft warned that the Holy Land Foundation prosecution
makes clear that "[t]here is no distinction between those who carry out
terrorist attacks and those who knowingly finance terrorist attacks...the
Unites States will ensure that both terrorists and their financiers meet
the same, certain justice."
Moreover, it is well understood that terror
networks have no geographical bounds; tactics of indiscriminate murder
learned in the Middle East under the guidance of the likes of Hamas have
the potential of visiting wholesale destruction and wreaking havoc anywhere
and everywhere, including the U.S; those who support such activities are
accomplices to mass murder.
A key element to the indictment is the charge of engaging in a criminal
conspiracy to finance the outlawed Hamas by providing funds earmarked for
the families of suicide murderers. Through such support, the indictment
reads, the defendants "effectively rewarded past, and encouraged future
suicide bombings and terrorist activities...." And so, our government
seeks to put the Holy Land Foundation Seven away for a long, long time.
While the outcome, of course, remains to be seen, it would be naive to
think that these defendants are the only ones who have been giving aid and
financial comfort to the relatives deadly terrorists. Far from it.
Before its demise, Saddam's Iraq proudly, although not surprisingly
gave, $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. He was not in that
murderous boat alone. His partner in what our government considers to be a
serious crime was none other than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not some
rogue Saudis, not a fringe element seeking to destabilize the nation. No,
the Saudi government itself. And how do we know this? How can we be sure
that this is not just another of what the Saudis have in the past described
as a spurious, dastardly attempt to undermine the good name of the House of
Saud. The answer is simple. There is evidence. Iron clad, irrefutable
evidence in the form of documentation captured in 2002 from Palestinian
Headquarters by Israel.
This material leaves no doubt that under the auspices and control of the
Saudi Ministry of Interior large sums of money were directed through Hamas
to support families of terrorists known to have carried out suicide
bombings. The same type of bombings that are possible right in our own
neighborhoods. Indeed, the documents actually provide the names of those
involved and the details of their murderous acts. The families of each
"martyr" received 20,000 Riyal, which was approximately $5300. Moreover,
among the beneficiaries of Saudi largesse, was at least one family of a
terrorist who murdered an American.
As if to highlight the extent of Saudi support for Hamas, the documents
contain what amounts to a formal protest by Arafat to authorities in
Riyadh, complaining that the funds should instead be directed to the
Palestinian Authority rather than Hamas and other radical groups affiliated
with it. Some of the very same Hamas affiliated "charitable" committees
with which the Saudis dealt are also identified in the Holy Land Foundation
indictment as facilitators and accomplices in terror.
These distressing facts about our supposed "ally" in the all out fight
against terror have been known to the intelligence and law enforcement
communities for some time. Saudi duplicity has even prompted the
bi-partisan introduction last year of The Saudi Arabia Accountability Act,
designed in part to press Saudi Arabia to desist from providing support for
the families of known terrorists. Not surprisingly, Saudi apologists and
spinmeisters immediately went to work and the proposals have not progressed
through the legislative process.
So far, it seems rather clear that under the very standards established by
our government, the Saudi regime has gotten away with supporting and
facilitating mass murder. No amount of high priced, smoothly delivered
double talk can change those hard facts. Must we wait for a Hamas inspired,
Saudi rewarded catastrophe to hit at home before we truly take seriously
the threat posed by Saudi backing of terrorism? First, we must not be
taken in by the disingenuous rhetoric from slick officials at the Saudi
Embassy; they must know that we mean business, and not just oil business.
The passage of a strengthened Saudi Arabia Accountability Act would be a
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JWR contributor Neal M. Sher, a New York based government relations consultant, is the former Director of the Office of Special Investigation in the US Justice Department. Comment by clicking here.
© 2004, Neal M. Sher