Saudis fueling Mideast Terrorism

Posted: Jul 03, 2002 12:00 AM
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 crisis.” 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.