19 October 2001

They're Rich, They're Spoiled, They're Supporting Terrorists

This insightful column by Robert Scheer that appeared in Tuesday's LA Times lays out the case that Saudi Arabia has been a big supporter of terrorism and would be a logical target "if President Bush were serious about his stated goal of punishing nations that support terrorism".

The evidence is overwhelming that it is the incredibly rich Saudis, far more than the desperately poor Afghans, who are responsible for the emergence of a militant and violent variant of Islam that has infected much of the Muslim world. It is wealthy Saudi businessmen, with the complicity of the Saudi government, who have financed the religious schools and moujahedeen training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan from which the latest wave of terrorism has erupted.

It is convenient for the Saudi government to now distance itself from Bin Laden, but the record is clear that, as the New York Times editorialized, "with Riyadh's acquiescence, money and manpower from Saudi Arabia helped create and sustain Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization." When one peruses the list of directors of businesses and foundations cited by the U.S. government that allegedly supported Al Qaeda, it reads like a who's who of Saudi society.

Perhaps that's why the Bush administration rejects the Taliban's demand for proof that Bin Laden is behind the recent terror, a normal response to an extradition request. Have we refused to supply that evidence or to issue the white paper of proof promised by Colin Powell because what we have learned about the international financing of Al Qaeda is too embarrassing to the Saudis?

What we do know is that at least more than half of the hijackers were Saudi citizens; that their alleged leader Bin Laden is a member of one of Saudi Arabia's richest families; that money from the Saudi elite sustained a terrorist network; and that the Saudi government has refused to cooperate fully with the U.S. in investigating these links or seizing terrorist assets.

Did the oil sheiks from Saudi Arabia create this mess?