The well-oiled Saudi PR machine chugged into action this week with foreign-policy adviser Adel al-Jubeir at the helm. "For too long Saudi Arabia has been wrongly accused of being uncooperative or ineffective in combating terrorism," al-Jubeir proclaimed to an audience of newsmen at the Saudi embassy, "the unfounded charges against Saudi Arabia have gotten out of control."
Al-Jubeir went on to list the Saudis' successful strikes against terrorism: arresting the mastermind of 2000's USS Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri; freezing nearly $5.6 million in terrorist assets; freezing Wael Hamza Julaidan's assets. The finishing touch, Al-Jubeir said, is the enactment of stringent measures by which the Saudi government can track the finances of charities that have in the past funded al Qaeda. Al-Jubeir then pointed out that the new accounting measures are merely precautionary, telling reporters, "We have not found a direct link between charity groups and terrorism."
Of course, Saudi-based charities have raised millions (if not billions) of dollars for terrorism. One Saudi charity, Al Haramain Charitable Trust, has had it offices in Bosnia and Somalia declared Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entities. Another charity, the Rabita Trust, has been marked SDGT outright.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) are two of Rabita Trust's sister organizations. The Wall Street Journal recently published an in-depth account of the ties between IIRO, Saudi al Qaeda financier Yassin al-Qadi and the 1998 African-embassy bombings. IIRO has been linked to planned attacks in Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and Africa.
WAMY was founded in the United States by Osama bin Laden's brother, Abdullah. The short WAMY book Islamic Views, printed by the Saudi government's Armed Forces Printing Press, contains passages such as, "[T]each our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and teach them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and al-Quds when they go back to Islam and make Jihad for the sake of Allah."
The Saudi promise to cut off al Qaeda funding is a welcome development. What is troubling is, just as Al Jubeir is announcing his government's new accounting practices, Saudi royals are donating to some of the worst offenders. The weekly political magazine Ain al Yaqeen ("Heart of the Matter"), reported on November 29 that Prince Abdul Majeed ibn Abdul Aziz recently headlined a joint WAMY/al Haramain fundraiser and gave a $40,000 donation. A couple weeks later, Prince Mohammed ibn Fahd ibn Abdul Aziz spoke at a fundraiser for WAMY, al-Haramain, and IIRO.
American public opinion is against the Saudis because of precisely these sorts of deceptions. Saudi minister of the interior Prince Nayef Ibn Abd Al-Azizs told the Kuwaiti paper al-Siyaasa, "we [the Saudis] put big question marks and ask who committed the events of September 11 and who benefited from the. Who benefited from events of 9/11? I think they [the Zionists] are behind these events." Clearly, the Saudis have yet to accept their role in motivating and financing terrorism. But then, as al-Jubeir said, Saudi charities were never a problem in the first place.