The Corner

Saudi Watch

From Michael Isikoff:

April 12 issue – A federal investigation into the bank accounts of the Saudi Embassy in Washington has identified more than $27 million in “suspicious” transactions—including hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Muslim charities, and to clerics and Saudi students who are being scrutinized for possible links to terrorist activity, according to government documents obtained by NEWSWEEK. The probe also has uncovered large wire transfers overseas by the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The transactions recently prompted the Saudi Embassy’s longtime bank, the Riggs Bank of Washington, D.C., to drop the Saudis as a client after embassy officials were “unable to provide an explanation that was satisfying,” says a source familiar with the discussions….

….Among the payments that have drawn scrutiny, documents show, were $19,200 in checks between December 2000 and January 2003 from the Saudi Embassy to an Islamic cleric, Gulshair Muhammad al-Shukrijumah. The Florida-based imam has been on the FBI’s radar screen for some time: he once testified on behalf of convicted terrorist Clement Hampton-El. The imam’s son, Adnan G. al-Shukrijumah, also known as “Jafar the Pilot,” is a suspected Qaeda operative who is the subject of a worldwide FBI manhunt. A Saudi spokesman said Gulshair al-Shukrijumah was a Saudi-funded “missionary” whose payments were terminated last year. Another area of FBI inquiry involves $70,000 in wire transfers on July 10, 2001, to two Saudis in Massachusetts. One of the Saudis wrote a $20,000 check that same day to a third Saudi who had listed the same address as Aafia Siddiqui, a microbiologist who is believed to have been a U.S. operative for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. A Saudi spokesman said the wire transfers had no connection to Siddiqui and were used to pay educational and medical expenses for Saudi families in the United States. But bureau officials say the matter remains under active investigation; a government document shows the bulk of the funds were wired to an account in Saudi Arabia….

….The documents obtained by NEWSWEEK are “suspicious activity reports,” or SARS, filed by bank auditors to alert Treasury to possible improprieties. Many may simply reflect longstanding Saudi practices, such as big movements of cash. “It’s not fair to apply American standards to this. They’re not General Motors,” said Nancy Dutton, a lawyer for the Saudi Embassy. But investigators say the embassy accounts show a large commingling of funds with Islamic charities that have been the prime target of U.S. probes….

….Other SARS may prove personally embarrassing to Bandar, the dean of the diplomatic corps in Washington who has had close ties to the White House. One involves $17.4 million in wire transfers last year from the Saudi Defense Min-istry account to a man in Saudi Arabia identified as the coordinator of “home improvements/ construction” for Prince Bandar. The funds were to build a new palace for the prince. Ali Ah—med, a prominent Saudi dissident, noted that Bandar already owns at least seven palaces and mansions around the world. “This is corruption beyond the pale,” he said. But Saudi Embassy lawyer Dutton said that government and private accounts are frequently intertwined by Saudi royals. “Just because it went through a government account doesn’t mean it’s not his personal money,” she said.

Most Popular

Elections

On Kamala Harris

Joe Biden has named his 2020 running mate: authoritarianism. American prosecutors wield awesome and terrible powers that lend themselves easily to abuse, and Senator Kamala Harris, formerly the attorney general of California, is an enthusiastic abuser of them. Harris was a leader in the junta of Democratic ... Read More
Elections

On Kamala Harris

Joe Biden has named his 2020 running mate: authoritarianism. American prosecutors wield awesome and terrible powers that lend themselves easily to abuse, and Senator Kamala Harris, formerly the attorney general of California, is an enthusiastic abuser of them. Harris was a leader in the junta of Democratic ... Read More
U.S.

New York City’s Downward Spiral

New York City must be one of the few places on earth where chaos nostalgia is widespread. Many were the laments, in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, that the city was “too sanitized,” “too gentrified,” “too boring,” “anodyne,” “suburban.” Often you’d hear people saying, or declaiming, that their ... Read More
U.S.

New York City’s Downward Spiral

New York City must be one of the few places on earth where chaos nostalgia is widespread. Many were the laments, in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, that the city was “too sanitized,” “too gentrified,” “too boring,” “anodyne,” “suburban.” Often you’d hear people saying, or declaiming, that their ... Read More

The Anarchist Storm over Portland

Stephen Peifer, a retired assistant U.S. attorney in Portland, Ore., sat down with National Review’s Luther Abel to discuss the state’s long and infamous struggle with left-wing extremist groups, why federal officers were deployed to Portland, and what makes the current situation in the city uniquely ... Read More

The Anarchist Storm over Portland

Stephen Peifer, a retired assistant U.S. attorney in Portland, Ore., sat down with National Review’s Luther Abel to discuss the state’s long and infamous struggle with left-wing extremist groups, why federal officers were deployed to Portland, and what makes the current situation in the city uniquely ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Someone might want to remind Joe Biden, who’s just picked progressive California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, that his vice-president-to-be believes Catholics are unfit to serve in our nation’s courts. (Biden, of course, as I considered at length on the homepage today, has spent his entire ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Someone might want to remind Joe Biden, who’s just picked progressive California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, that his vice-president-to-be believes Catholics are unfit to serve in our nation’s courts. (Biden, of course, as I considered at length on the homepage today, has spent his entire ... Read More