' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2002 / 21 Kislev, 5763

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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With friends like the Saudis...

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Suddenly, official Washington is publicly seized with a subject that has, until recently, generally been considered impolitic to address out loud: Is Saudi Arabia with us in the war on terror, or is it fundamentally against us?

Now that the issue is finally being joined, it is stunning how few people in high places actually disagree with a perception that has become nearly universally shared by the American people -- namely, that the Saudis are a big part of the terrorist problem that we face today, and will likely confront for the foreseeable future.

Several factors have lately compelled elite opinion to reconsider its longstanding embrace of the House of Saud and the kingdom's vast petrodollars. First and foremost among these was the stunning reality that fifteen out of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

In the aftermath of that day of infamy, the U.S. government has raided and/or shut-down several Saudi charities on suspicion that they have been used to funnel funds to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Then, over the weekend, Newsweek reported that the congressional inquiry into the September 11th attacks has concluded that a pair of Saudi "students" who had ties to two of the hijackers appear to have received tens of thousands of dollars from a bank account in the name of Princess Haifa Al-Faisal. In addition to being a daughter of the former Saudi king, Princess Haifa happens to be the wife of the long-serving Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

On Sunday, Crown Prince Abdullah's flack, Aden al-Jubeir, took to the television talk shows to portray this transaction as nothing more than an act of charity from the wife of the senior Saudi official in this country to the ailing wife of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego. (Whatever the facts, Americans cannot help but be struck by the spectacle of men from a society that assiduously demeans women scurrying to take refuge behind their burkas.)

Monday's Washington Times led its front page with an Agence France Presse wire story that Princess Haifa has also been linked to an apartment in Washington used by another Saudi citizen who subsequently "lived with members of a terrorist cell linked to al Qaeda." The article reports that the Saudi, Mansour Majib, happened to live in Sarasota, Florida temporarily in 2000 when several of the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons."

Now, this could all be coincidental. The Saudi ambassador's wife could be an innocent, well-meaning individual whose philanthropy and business dealings are no more motivated by a desire to support terrorism than would be, say, those of the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The problem is, as a growing number of prominent Americans are feeling compelled to say, there is too much of this going on -- involving both Saudi individuals, charities and official entities -- for all of it to be coincidental. Combine this increasingly widely shared perception with congressional investigators' reported conclusion that the FBI and CIA had been insufficiently aggressive in pursuing Saudi connections to 9/11 and other terrorism and you have an explosive mix.

Concerns about the true character of Saudi Arabia's role in the war on terror were vented on Sunday by a politically disparate group of past and present congressional leaders including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senators John McCain, Charles Schumer, Richard Shelby, Bob Graham, Joseph Lieberman and Joe Biden. Each in his own way served notice that what there must be a prompt end to what has amounted to a Saudi double-game -- declaring its support for us in fighting terrorism while providing indispensable financing and other assistance needed for al Qaeda and other terrorist networks to operate globally.

Sen. Schumer went so far as to contend that the Bush Administration's "most serious foreign policy failure" has been its unwillingness to recognize the true and hostile nature of the Saudi regime. In fact, it would appear that neither the Bush team nor Sen. Schumer fully appreciates the magnitude of the threat posed here at home by Saudi Arabia's radical brand of Islam known as Wahhabism.

This threat arises from the cumulative impact of initiatives like the following, each of which is being pursued by organizations benefitting from Saudi largesse:

  • a prison recruitment program aimed at transforming American felons into radical Islamists;

  • an effort to recruit, train and place Wahhabist chaplains in the U.S. military, with untold negative repercussions for the troops' order and discipline.

  • Wahhabi indoctrination and publicity efforts on over 500 college campuses, including a divestment campaign aimed at Israel;

  • the pursuit of a virulently anti-American, Wahhabist agenda in U.S. mosques, one broadly similar to that inculcated in Saudi-backed schools or "madrasas" elsewhere around the globe. By some estimates as many as 75% of American mosques are financed by the Saudis, making them directly subject to Saudi theological direction and control;

  • campaigns aimed at securing favorable press treatment for Islamic entities and suppressing, wherever possible (for example, through threatened lawsuits), media and commentators perceived to be critical of Islamist terrorist organizations, their state-sponsors and causes; and

  • political influence operations designed to secure access to, and sway over, key executive and legislative branch personnel.

Senator Shelby, a long-time chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared on Sunday that what must be done by the appropriate U.S. agencies is to "follow the money." This must be done not only with respect to Amb. Bandar's wife and "charitable" activities similar to hers. It must also apply to the money that has cascaded from various Saudi nationals and institutions to mount and sustain such ominously strategic initiatives. After all, with friends like Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


11/19/02: The Jayna Davis files
11/12/02: Could Israel die of thirst?
11/04/02: Against us
10/22/02: Too clever by half?
10/17/02: 'Drain the swamps'
10/08/02: The temptations of George Bush
10/01/02: Return of the San Francisco Dems
09/24/02: The next crusader?
09/17/02: It is no accident that advocates of coercive inspections have opposed prez's goal of regime change
09/10/02: A model for Iraq
08/27/02: Beware 'consensus leadership'
08/20/02: To Iraq or not to Iraq?
08/13/02: Trading with the 'enemy'
07/30/02: Who's trashing Ashcroft?
07/23/02: Wall Street's 'poisoned apples'
07/16/02: Back on the China front
07/09/02: See no evil?
07/02/02: Rethinking peacekeeping
06/25/02: Political moment of truth on defense
06/19/02: Inviting losses on two fronts
06/12/02: Make missile defense happen
06/04/02: The next 'Day of Infamy'?
05/29/02: Bush's Russian gamble
05/21/02: The 'next war'
05/15/02: Ex-presidential misconduct
05/07/02: When 'what if' is no game
05/02/02: Careful what we wish for
04/24/02: The real 'root cause' of terror
04/02/02: First principles in the Mideast
03/26/02: 'Renounce this map'
03/20/02: The inconvenient ally
03/12/02: Adults address the 'unthinkable'
03/05/02: The Saudi scam
02/26/02: Rumsfeld's 'now hear this'
02/19/02: Where's the outrage?
02/12/02: Post-mortem on 'Pearl Harbor II'
02/05/02: Spinning on the 'Evil Axis'
01/29/02: A challenge for the history books
01/22/02: Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'?
01/15/02: No 'need to know'
01/08/02: Sentenced to de-nuclearize?
12/18/01: Missile defense mismanagement?
12/11/01: Is the Cold War 'over'?
12/04/01: A moment for truth
11/29/01: Send in the marines -- with the planes they need
11/27/01: 'Now Hear This': Does the President Mean What He Says?
11/20/01: Mideast 'vision thing'
11/13/01: The leitmotif of the next three days
11/06/01: Bush's Reykjavik Moment
10/30/01: Say it ain't true, 'W.
10/23/01: Getting history, and the future, right
10/16/01: Farewell to arms control
10/05/01: A time to choose
09/25/01: Don't drink the 'lemonade'
09/11/01: Sudan envoy an exercise in futility?
09/05/01: Strategy of a thousand cuts
08/28/01: Rummy's back
08/21/01: Prepare for 'two wars'
08/14/01: Why does the Bush Administration make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks and Israel's restrained defensive responses?
08/07/01: A New bipartisanship in security policy?
07/31/01: Don't go there
07/17/01: The 'end of the beginning'
07/10/01: Testing President Bush
07/03/01: Market transparency works
06/27/01: Which Bush will it be on missile defense?
06/19/01: Don't politicize military matters
06/05/01: It's called leadership
06/05/01: With friends like these ...
05/31/01: Which way on missile defense?
05/23/01: Pearl Harbor, all over again
05/15/01: A tale of two Horatios
05/08/01: The real debate about missile defense
04/24/01: Sell aegis ships to Taiwan
04/17/01: The 'hi-tech for China' bill
04/10/01: Deal on China's hostages -- then what?
04/03/01: Defense fire sale redux
03/28/01: The defense we need
03/21/01: Critical mass
03/13/01: The Bush doctrine
03/08/01: Self-Deterred from Defending America
02/27/01: Truth and consequences for Saddam
02/21/01: Defense fire sale
02/13/01: Dubya's Marshall Plan
02/05/01: Doing the right thing on an 'Arab-Arab dispute'
01/30/01: The missile defense decision
01/23/01: The Osprey as Phoenix
01/17/01: Clinton's Parting Shot at Religious Freedom
01/09/01: Wake-up call on space
01/02/01: Secretary Rumsfeld
12/27/00: Redefining our Ukraine policy
12/19/00: Deploy missile defense now
12/12/00: Sabotaging space power
12/05/00: Preempting Bush
11/28/00: What Clinton hath wrought
11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.