Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2002 / 30 Kislev, 5763

Zev Chafets

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Kissinger's Saudi pals
litter 9/11 money trail | Henry Kissinger says he intends to lead his 9/11 investigation commission down the money trail. He can expect to run into a lot of familiar faces along the way. They will be wearing innocent expressions and clutching Saudi petrodollars.

The Saudis fund schools all over the world - and all over this country - that propagate the Wahhabi values of theocracy, sexual inequality, intolerance and jihad. Some of these institutions are in New York and Washington. Kissinger can get the addresses from the FBI.

America's Islamic organizations also live along the money trail. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, for example, just accepted a half-million dollars from a nephew of the Saudi king to "put Islamic materials" into American libraries. Hopefully, they won't be combustible.

Saudi-funded charities, we now know, support a variety of terrorists. Royal beneficence underwrote at least two of the 9/11 hijackers. But Saudi money doesn't go only to fanatics. It also is available to just good friends.

This category happens to include a lot of former senior American diplomats, men like Wyche Fowler, Walter Cutler and Edward Walker, who have found life after retirement in American think tanks funded by Saudi Arabia and the oil companies that do business there. Coincidentally, these ex-diplomats are the chief Saudi apologists in the U.S.

Saudi supporters also can be found on active State Department duty. As Prince Bandar, the refreshingly candid Saudi ambassador (and husband of "inadvertent" terrorist financier Princess Haifa) once observed, "If the reputation ... builds that the Saudis take care of their friends when they leave office, you'd be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office."

The Bandar principle also applies to the American academy.

Kissinger's alma mater, Harvard, recently was embarrassed by the revelation that it had accepted gifts from the Bin Laden family. But Harvard is far from alone. Elite universities have received millions over the years from the Saudi government.

Often these contributions are secret. Columbia University, for example, is establishing an Edward Said chair in Middle Eastern studies (next: the Mullah Mohammed Omar chair in comparative religion). Columbia won't disclose the donor, so we are left to guess. My guess is the Saudi royal family.

I am sorry to say Kissinger may even encounter a few journalists along the money trail. The Saudis have long made a practice of giving their Western media guests gifts (Rolex watches are usually involved). Some give them back. Others, not wanting to offend, strap them on. Are they influenced by Saudi hospitality? Look at the coverage of the kingdom over the past 10 years, see which reporters have failed to notice they were in a fascist theocracy and decide for yourself.

Cynics suggest that Kissinger may even run into himself on the money trail. Kissinger says his consulting firm doesn't represent Saudi Arabia. But it does reportedly do business with ExxonMobil, whose Web site boasts that the company "has contributed enormously to the creation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Actually, Kissinger did once receive a personal gift from the Saudis. But it probably won't do the kingdom much good. Back when he was the first Jewish secretary of state, Kissinger was presented with a copy of the infamous anti-Semitic forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," by his thoughtful host, Saudi King Faisal.

Considering Kissinger's present mandate to search out the sources of violent Islamic fanaticism, the Saudis probably wish they had given him a Rolex instead.

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JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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