Editor's note: the following is adapted, in part, from the July 15th
issue of National Review.
On Fox News Sunday this weekend, Secretary of State Colin Powell
told host Tony Snow, “We have been very appreciative of the role that Saudi
Arabia has played, and especially Crown Prince Abdullah, in putting forward
a vision for the Palestinian people of how we can find a solution to this
Powell’s remark was bizarre enough, but even more so when put into
context. It was in response to a question from Snow about the Saudis giving
money explicitly to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers—-a charge
the Secretary of State all but acknowledged. The best he could muster in
terms of moral clarity was that “that this kind of payment [to organizations
such as Hamas] should stop.”
With the Saudis inciting suicide bombings by doling out cash to the
perpetrators’ families after-the-fact, exactly what sort of “vision” are the
Saudis providing for the Palestinians? It would seem that without the
benefit of moral relativism, the Saudis might even seem like an
enemy—-perhaps because they are.
The documents that made the Secretary of State squirm were found by
Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops in the offices of a Hamas affiliate
during the West Bank incursion earlier this year. According to financial
records found at the Tulkarm Charity Committee (TCC), a “charity” tied to
Hamas, the Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada al Quds (al
Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem) earmarked money explicitly for families of
homicide bombers. The payment sheet written by the Saudi Committee, which
spearheaded the infamous $109 million telethon this spring, lists not only
the names of terrorists, but in many cases the locations of the
attacks—-laying bare any myth that Saudi petro-dollars reached families
of homicide bombers inadvertently.
The Saudi Committee-—headed by Saudi interior minister Naif Ibn Abed al
Aziz and financially supported by the royal family—-knowingly gave money to
suicide bombers and other terrorists responsible for attacks that killed
more than 90 Israelis and wounded over 600. And that’s just in the last of
ten payment rounds—-the only one analyzed by the Israeli government so far.
Even before the bonanza telethon, the Saudi Committee had transferred at
least $55.7 million to various groups in the West Bank and Gaza.
The TCC, the recipient of the Saudi petro-dollars, works hand-in-glove
with Hamas, the group responsible for nearly 40 percent of the homicide
bombings during the intifada. The TCC doles out social and welfare benefits
to Palestinians, which constitutes the chief means by which Hamas buys
support among the Palestinian people. The headquarters of this supposedly
humanitarian group had materials encouraging the murder of Jews, and even a
celebratory poster of the homicide bomber who murdered 29 and injured 140 in
the Netanya Passover Massacre.
The State Department has full knowledge of the terrorist activities of
both the Saudi Committee and the TCC, yet has done nothing to curb the
finances of either organization. State knows of the documents, and does not
dispute their authenticity; it just refuses to attach any significance to
the uncontested evidence that Saudi petro-dollars fuel terrorism.
The most troubling result of State’s blissful ignorance of Saudi
involvement in terrorism is that the TCC’s financial records show some of
the blood money intentionally destined for known terrorists passed through
well-known U.S. banks: Citibank and Chase Manhattan. This would seem a
colossal failure of the administration’s “block-and-freeze” list, but
neither the Saudi Committee nor the TCC are on the list of terrorists with
whom U.S. banks cannot deal. In fact, the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which
has claimed credit for more homicide bombings than any other
terrorist group, was not added to the list until March 27, 2002-—six months
after the original executive order was signed, and more tellingly, the
same day as the Passover Massacre in Netanya.
In fairness to Powell, he’s at least made some small progress in his
attitude toward the House of Saud. He conceded to Snow, “I think it's a
real problem when you incentivize in any way suicide bombings.” But with
all due respect to Powell, the “real problem” is that the State Department
knows Saudi funding of terrorism is a “real problem” but refuses to do
anything to stop it.