Within days of the murderous September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, President Bush declared before a joint session of Congress: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
Unfortunately, under the leadership of King Fahd (actual or nominal), Saudi Arabia demonstrated it was possible to be with us and with the terrorists. Far from being regarded as a hostile regime, the U.S. has described the Saudi government as a valued “partner” in the war on terror, notwithstanding abundant evidence it continues to harbor and support terrorism around the world — including inside the U.S.
Indeed, under Fahd, whose death was officially announced Monday (although he has been effectively incapacitated for years following a severe stroke), the Saudis perfected their double game: simultaneously being considered in Washington as a friend of America while behaving all over the world as a supporter and financier of America’s enemies.
A recitation of the evidence of Saudi solidarity with the United States usually starts with King Fahd’s decision to allow American forces to use his territory to liberate Kuwait in 1991. Typically, it claims Saudi Arabia’s cooperation on oil pricing. Some also point to the Saudis’ aid to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement in counterterrorism efforts after September 11.
In fact, deployment of U.S. troops on Saudi soil in Operation Desert Shield allowed us to defend them. When it has suited the Saudis to have cheaper oil — notably, when it looked (briefly) as if we might actually get serious about alternative energy sources — they forced prices down. When it has not, the Saudis have been fully prepared to help the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel drive them up (including today when a barrel of oil it costs them at most $2 or $3 to extract sells for more than $60).
It is true the Saudi royal family has lately become more concerned about its hold on power in the face of terror attacks inside the kingdom. Such concerns may produce more mutuality of interests with the United States on countering terrorist operations within Saudi Arabia. Even there, however, the transparency has been limited, as with, for example, U.S. access to terror suspects in Saudi custody.
Far more important is the litany of things the Saudis have done — and continue doing — that encourage and enable terrorism against those (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) who do not embrace the ideology of the Saudi Islamofascist cult known as Wahhabism. A short list of these unfriendly activities includes:
c Financial, organizational, logistical and other support for terrorists like Osama bin Laden. While the Saudi leadership doesn’t want any more al Qaeda attacks inside the Kingdom, there is reason to believe at least some of the 5,000 princes think underwriting its attacks elsewhere is the best way to prevent them at home.
Founding and running Wahhabi Islamofascist hate-factories in mosques and their associated schools (madrassas) all over the world. The Saudi-financed madrassas of Pakistan got a lot of attention after British authorities identified them as places where the Leeds suicide bombers trained.
A superb study released in January by Freedom House documented that the Saudi government also uses American mosques — by some estimates 80 percent have mortgages held by Saudi Arabian financial institutions — to promote jihad. Materials officially produced and disseminated to such mosques by the kingdom are filled with calls to hate Christians and Jews. Those who fail to conform are threatened with violent punishment as apostates. Saudi-trained and -selected clerics serve as enforcers in our mosques and in prisons and the military as recruiters for a rabidly anti-American Wahhabi creed.
Since the Saudi-engineered oil price spikes of the 1970s, the Saudis have also spent untold sums (they acknowledge some $80 billion spent in “foreign aid”; the actual total is surely far higher) building a worldwide infrastructure of charities, businesses and front organizations. In the wake of the London bombings, several of these Saudi-backed front organizations have found it necessary to issue fatwas in Britain and the United States purporting to denounce terror.
As noted terrorism expert Stephen Emerson has reported (www.investigativeproject.org/FCNA-CAIR.html), however, some of these groups and those associated with them have been prominent supporters of — or, at the very least, apologists for — terrorist organizations. For example, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which organized a press conference to promote the U.S. version of the phony fatwa: No fewer than four of its associates have been convicted of providing financial or other forms of material support to terrorists.
It is no small irony the new Saudi ambassador to the United States exemplifies his country’s double game on terrorism: Prince Turki al-Faisal. For roughly 25 years, Turki was in charge of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence operations. He was intimately familiar both with his country’s efforts to promote Wahhabism (including supporting bin Laden’s operations in Afghanistan) and its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States.
King Fahd’s death, the mounting evidence of the danger from ongoing Saudi support for terror and the appointment to Washington of one of the kingdom’s most experienced double-gamers should require Saudi Arabia finally to do what President Bush demanded nearly four years ago: The Saudis can no longer be with us and against us. They must be made to choose.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.
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