The Bush administration once again heard the cold, hard facts about Saudi Arabia’s growing threat. And once again, they covered their ears.
“Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies,” Rand Corporation analyst Laurent Murawiec told the Defense Policy Board last July 10. “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader,” he continued in remarks to this advisory panel of former elected officials and security experts. He blamed Riyadh for “a daily outpouring of virulent hatred against the U.S. from Saudi media, ‘educational’ institutions, clerics, officials — Saudis tell us one thing in private, do the contrary in reality.”
Senior administration officials would have none of this. When the Washington Post revealed this briefing on August 6, Secretary of State Colin Powell called Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud Faisal to promise him that it did not reflect U.S. policy. “The Saudis cooperate fully in the global war on terrorism,” Pentagon spokesman Victoria Clarke added.
True, but on which side?
Saudi Arabia routinely targets Americans and Israelis. Behold a sample of its latest misdeeds:
Saudi Arabia is the Federal Reserve of terrorism. Israeli soldiers recovered records on the West Bank this spring that show that the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Intifada al-Quds (Jerusalem in Arabic) has paid $5,300 bonuses to the families of at least 102 Palestinian terrorists including eight involved in “suicide operations.” Among them, David Tell noted in the May 20 Weekly Standard, were the relatives of Sufian Sabarin who detonated Jerusalem’s No. 26 bus on August 21, 1995, killing Joan Devenny, an American citizen and victim of Saudi-funded terrorism. To continue such work, the Committee, controlled by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, raised $109.5 million last April in a Jerry Lewis-style telethon for “Palestinian martyrs.”
Documents indicate that another Saudi “charity,” the International Islamic Relief Organization, gave $280,000 to 14 Palestinian groups including “Hamas-identified committees/bodies.” Hamas, of course, sponsored the July 31 bombing in the cafeteria of Hebrew University’s Frank Sinatra International Student Center in Jerusalem. The blast wounded 86 innocent civilians and murdered seven others, five of them Americans.
‐Here’s what news accounts say NATO troops found last October at the Sarajevo office of the Saudi High Commission for Relief: Pre-and-post-attack photos of the World Trade Center, the USS Cole and American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; maps of federal buildings in Washington; materials for forging State Department badges; and a computer program on how to spread pesticides with crop dusters.
‐Saudi ambassador to Great Britain Ghazi Algosaibi published a poem in the April 13 edition of Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper. Titled “The Martyrs,” it praises Ayat Akhras, a Palestinian woman who exploded herself in a Jerusalem supermarket on March 29. She killed herself and two Israelis and injured 25 others.
“Doors of heaven are opened for her,” Ambassador Algosaibi’s poem says of “Ayat, the bride of loftiness.” Akhras “embraced death with a smile while the leaders are running away from death,” the poet adds. The ambassador, who has represented Saudi Arabia in London for more than a decade, takes a swing at America: He writes, “We complained to the idols of a White House whose heart is filled with darkness.”
‐Top Saudis parrot Der Sturmer editor Julius Streicher, perhaps Hitler’s loudest Jew hater. Sheik Abd-al-Rahman Ibn-Abd-al-Aziz al-Sudays, Chief Cleric at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, claimed last April 19 that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the killers of the prophets and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs.” In a June 21 sermon broadcast live on government-owned TV1, the imam prayed: “O God, deal with the Jews and Zionists for they are within Your power. O God, scatter their assemblies, make them a lesson for others, and let them and their property be a booty for Muslims.”
‐The Saudi Commerce Ministry recently banned spoons, toy guns, candies, and laser discs emblazoned with Stars of David. “The Ministry is investigating the ways why [sic] these products had been brought into the Kingdom,” the English-language Riyadh Daily explained June 25.
‐While such Muslim countries as Pakistan and Yemen courageously have permitted U.S. troops to prosecute the war on terror from their soil, Saudi Arabia prohibited American jets from using the Prince Sultan Air Base while America and its allies drove al Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan. Never mind that the base was built with U.S. tax dollars. Just yesterday, the Saudis announced their territory would be off limits in any new U.S. bid to invade Iraq.
‐Soon after the September 11 attacks, orchestrated by 15 Saudis among 19 hijackers, Saudi diplomats whisked several of Osama bin Laden’s relatives on a private jet from America to Saudi Arabia and beyond the reach of U.S. investigators. Riyadh subsequently has stymied background checks on Saudi terror suspects and impeded American efforts to block al Qaeda’s financial assets. Unlike nearly every other carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines even refused to give the U.S. Customs Service the identities of passengers on its America-bound flights.
As the administration considers invading Iraq, it also should pursue regime change in Saudi Arabia. Saddam Hussein is essentially a better-armed Ferdinand Marcos. He is an egomaniac who craves power and crushes opponents. Hussein, a secular Muslim, professes no concrete ideology beyond his own cult of personality. Yes, he has treated his Kurdish minority to poison gas and likely is building chemical, biological and even atomic weapons of mass murder. Still, Hussein seems more of a regional headache than a worldwide menace.
The House of Saud apparently lacks such a weapons program, but it adheres to a globally ambitious, religious-based ideology. Saudi Arabia aims to hijack Islam everywhere — from Medina to Manila to Manhattan’s Islamic Cultural Center on East 96th Street — and infect it with that religion’s virulent Wahhabi strain. The goal? An energized, anti-Semitic, anti-Western, anti-American faith. Through the charities, religious schools and mosques they finance, Saudi Arabia would employ Wahhabism to build a bridge to the eighth century.
America should confront the Saudi dictatorship. For starters, President Bush and Secretary Powell should stop glad-handing Saudi officials. Statecraft may require them to work with Riyadh, but there is no need for Crown Prince Abdullah to hobnob at Bush’s Texas ranch.
Abundant global oil supplies also would diminish Saudi Arabia’s relevance. Thus, Washington should help Russia and West African nations boost their petroleum production. Africa needs the money, and a prosperous, Westward-looking Russia would not likely re-aim its ballistic missiles at America.
Topple Saddam Hussein, if we must. But Rand’s scholar is right. Team Bush should stop pretending that Saudi Arabia is Holland with sand dunes.