By Ilan Weinglass
Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy has an interview in FrontPage Magazine about the role of Saudi charities in supporting terrorism. Some of his remarks are not really new, but the interview serves as a good primer into a very serious problem. Alexiev also lists some facts and allegations about the Saudis, 9/11, and the 9/11 commission that I was not aware of previously. Here is an extended excerpt from Saudi “Charities” and the War
FP: The U.S. government recently designated the infamous Saudi Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation as a terror financier. Tell us about Al Haramain.
Alexiev: Well, there is a lot to tell and a lot has been written about it already in the counterterrorism blog and elsewhere for those who want more detailed information. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission had a separate case study dedicated to it, but here it is in a nutshell:
The Al -Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHIF) is one of the three largest Saudi front organizations active in the support of terrorism going back many years, and has been involved in the funding of Al Qaeda, the bombing of the American embassies in Africa and all manner of jihadist activities in Pakistan, the Balkans, Chechnia, Kashmir and elsewhere. But it will be a mistake to think of it simply as a terrorism enabler. It is even more important as a key player in funding and promoting the hateful Wahhabi/Salafi creed and the seditious shariah doctrine worldwide including in the United States.
Here are just a few figures that will give you a sense of the magnitude of these efforts. Before we moved against it, it had 50 offices around the world and operated out of Saudi embassies in another 40 countries. An official Saudi source claimed in December 2000 that it had built 1100 mosques and Islamic centers, employed 3000 proselytizers and published 13 million Islamic books.
And the most important thing about it is that contrary to countless Saudi denials, AHIF is a Saudi state-sponsored, funded and run organization. In other words, whatever it did was Saudi state policy. This is a reality that our government refuses to acknowledge even when it tries to do something about it, as, for instance, when it designated as terrorist two offices of AHIF in March of 2002, even as it labeled it misleadingly as “private, charitable and educational.”
It is important to document this briefly, because the Saudis continue to lie blatantly about their sponsorship of this and other subversive ‘charities.’ The reason AHIF operated out of Saudi embassies in many countries, as mentioned, is because it is directly subordinated to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which maintains sizable sections in most of these embassies. Indeed, the minister of Islamic affairs is always the chairman of AHIF’s highest organ, the Administrative Council, ex-officio. This is admitted even by Al-Haramain officials, such as the top guy in the closed AHIF office in Ashland, Oregon, Al-Buthe, who called the Islamic Affairs Ministry the “patron” of AHIF.
It is also the case that Al-Haramain and the other key Saudi fronts derive most of their funding directly from state coffers. For example, in November of 2002, nearly eight months after the kingdom allegedly agreed to close down two branches of AHIF in conjunction with the U.S., a Saudi newspaper reported on a fundraising meeting for Al-Haramain and others in the presence of then-Crown Prince Abdullah and other Saudi bigwigs, at which it was reported that the Saudi government covers 80% of the charities’ total expenditures, as well as 80% of the cost of building their headquarters.
By the way, Jamie, if you know how their ‘private’ fund raising is organized, you’d realize that it’s private in name only. Here is how it’s done. A powerful member of the House of Saud sets up and chairs a fund raiser at which moneyed interests are invited and urges the assembled to support the noble efforts of whatever ‘charity’ is involved and writes a fat check himself. It is an invitation that few can afford not to follow in a country where the economic well-being of the elite depends on whether or not they’re in the good graces of the royal family.
FP: Are there any other Saudi organizations that deserve to be designated?
Alexiev: Of course, I have followed about a dozen myself and there are hundreds of others I know very little about. All told, Saudi sources speak of anywhere between 240 and 265 Islamic charities active in the Kingdom and outside of it.
The largest and most active in terrorism funding and spreading hate against us, apart from Al-Haramain, are the Muslim World League (MWL) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). A fourth large and active terror enabler, called the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) is actually a department of MWL and should not be considered a separate organization.
Just like AHIF, all of them are both documented supporters of terrorist activities and Saudi state-sponsored entities that should have been designated and closed down years ago. The MWL, for instance, through a subsidiary in Pakistan called the Rabita Trust, played an indispensible role in the founding of Al Qaeda. The fact that we have allowed these outfits to engage in open subversion against us with complete impugnity is a graphic example of our failure to even acknowledge who our real enemies are in this war.
FP: What do you think of the U.S. move on Al Haramain? Why so late and why unilaterally? What does this mean for the war on terror?
Alexiev: Well, moving to close down Al-Haramain is, of course, a positive step, but in my view it’s also a case of too little too late and serves to demonstrate the abysmal failure of this administration to fess up to the fact that our ‘strategic ally’ Saudi Arabia is a sworn enemy of the United States. Let’s not forget that we’re nearing the 7th anniversary of 9/11and it has been more than six years after our first timid effort to curtail the subversive activities of AHIF in March of 2002. During all this time we did nothing except very meekly try to talk the Saudis into cooperation. The modus operandi of this administration vis a vis the Saudis seems to be “speak softly and carry no stick.”
Yet, it was clear very early on that they had no intention to do anything but play us for a sucker. Not only did they refuse to do anything, but they actually told us off repeatedly in fairly direct and insulting terms. For instance, in September 2002, Aqeel al-Aqeel, the chairman of Al-Haramain and a man who’s alleged to have personally smuggled millions of dollars to terrorist groups, boasted in the Saudi press that “America has tried to establish a link between terrorism and Saudi charitable societies and failed,” while an official Saudi media organ claimed that the charges leveled against Saudi charities like Al-Haramain by the U.S. Treasury were “politically motivated and orchestrated by Christian neo-conservatives and their Zionist allies.”
The reason this long overdue step was finally unilaterally is probably due to the fact that the evidence of Al-Haramain’s misdeeds is and has been for a long time incontrovertible. It could also be the case that the USG people involved became worried that when the evidence eventually sees the light of day after the Bush Administration is gone, as it inevitable will, it will look like they were either extraordinarily incompetent or else went to extraordinary lengths to protect the Saudis. Either way, there is no doubt that questions will be asked.
FP: Does this mean that Washington is finally taking a tougher stance toward Riyadh?
Alexiev: I wish I could believe that, but frankly I can’t. There is just too much evidence that vested interests in Washington were keen on shielding the Saudis from having to account for their misdeeds.
FP: Can you give us some examples of how the Bush administration has shielded the Saudis? Some critics have alleged that even the findings of the 9/11 commission were politically interfered with to whitewash Saudi involvement. Any truth to that?
Alexiev: I firmly believe that the 9/11 Commission did a pitiful job of explaining to the American people what actually happened and its greatest failure by far was its conclusion that the Saudis had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and 9/11. If you look at what the Saudis do when accused of enabling terrorism, as for example in an ongoing lawsuit against them in Philladelphia, they invariably use this 9/11 Commission finding as their key defense. Yet, anybody that is half-way familiar with how Al-Qaeda came into being and with the involvement of Saudi charities like the ones discussed above and key players like Wael Julaidan, Adil Batterji and the Golden Chain characters would have to consider such a conclusion as bordering on outright disinformation. Especially because some of the USG information available to the commission and footnoted in the report, like the USG Evidentiary Proffer in the Enaam Arnout/Benevolence International case, simply precludes such a conclusion.
Now, I’m not the first to suspect political interference with the 9/11 Report and former democratic Senator Graham, who was a co-chair of the Congressional Joint-Inquiry Commission, among others, is on record with direct accusations against the Bush Administration along these lines. In the meantime, new information has come to light that makes such suspicions ever more justified. A while ago, a Czech translator, of all people, was able to get the FBI timeline on which the 9/11 Commission report was based released through the Freedom of Information Act. In a direct contradiction to the 9/11 Report, the timeline claims that the two Saudi highjackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, were picked up in L.A. by a suspected Saudi agent named Omar al-Bayoumi and stayed with him in San Diego from the moment they arrived. This directly contradicts the 9/11 report which claims that they spent two weeks in L.A. and eventually bumped into Bayoumi by sheer chance. If the former is the truth, as the FBI Timeline and all available evidence confirms, the highjackers had a well organized Saudi-run support system waiting for them the minute they came to America. By the way, telephone logs show that during the time he hosted the terrorists, Bayoumi made hundreds of calls to the Saudi embassy in D.C. and Saudi consulates in California. What do you think they discussed; the weather in San Diego?
There is yet another more than curious tidbit that ties into this. The minute Bayoumi started taking care of the eventual suicide pilots, his monthly retainer from a company in Saudi Arabia for which he did no work, more than doubled and he also started receiving money indirectly from the wife of the illustrious Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar. The fact that the 9/11 Report did not dwell on this speaks for itself. This is the kind of stuff that makes people believe in conspiracies.
FP: You have written and testified to Congress that you consider Saudi Arabia to be the main state sponsor and financial enabler of radical Sunni Islam, while the U.S. government considers it a "strategic ally." Can you provide some evidence to back up your claim?
Alexiev: This is a fairly time-consuming exercise but let me just say this. Since 1973, Saudi Arabia has spent no less than $100 billion trying to undermine the West by promoting radical Islamism and hatred against our values and way of life. It has succeeded in dominating most of the Muslim establishment in Europe and America and imposing its hateful views on a large section of the Muslim population and dominating most of what passes as the Muslim establishment in this country. Most of our officials are clueless of this state of affairs, even in places like the Pentagon and Homeland Security, to say nothing of the FBI, and, more often than not, get their advice on matters Muslim from radical Islamist organizations like CAIR, ISNA, MAS, MSA etc. In fact, it has now gotten to the point where the FBI is asking CAIR, an organization which has a number of its high officials in jail for terrorist activities, to provide Islamic sensitivity training to their agents. The malignant political correctness and multicultural inanities that rule the land nowadays certainly have something to do with it, but the Bush Administration must share much of the responsibility for this dismal state of affairs.