by Stephen Schwartz
Last week's federal raid of a Massachusetts software firm raises many questions about U.S. security - not least about our "allies" in Saudi Arabia.
The firm, Ptech Inc., is said to have held millions of dollars in contracts with clients including the White House, the FBI, the U.S. Air Force, and the Internal Revenue Service. Yet investigators believe top investor Yasin al-Qadi was a major financial backer of al Qaeda.
Earlier in the week, Saudi spin sheikh Adel al-Jubeir, who dislikes revealing the names of Saudi terrorists, let slip that Al-Qadi's assets are under scrutiny by his government. In November, a long Wall Street Journal article described Al-Qadi's involvement in moving money around various U.S. sites and his ties to fund-raising for Hamas, another Saudi-backed terror group.
But there are significant holes in recent media coverage of Al-Qadi.
To begin with, Yasin al-Qadi is not a new figure in the investigation of Saudi-backed terrorism. His name surfaced only weeks after Sept. 11. As described in my new book "The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud From Tradition to Terror," Al-Qadi gave a long interview to a Saudi newspaper in which he admitted his acquaintance with Osama bin Laden, but had another, much more interesting name to drop: that of Vice President Dick Cheney.
On Oct. 14, 2001, Al-Qadi told the newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, "I spoke to [Cheney] at length and we even became friends. I also got to know former U.S. President Jimmy Carter." The interview bore the headline "Yes, I Know Bin Laden and U.S. Vice President is My Friend."
At that time, Al-Qadi had already been identified by U.S. officials as a terror financier. The fact that this criminal sleazebag would attempt to besmirch the vice president's name does not reflect on Cheney, but it does demonstrate that terrorist backers are much more highly placed in Saudi society than many U.S. officials are willing to admit.
There is another lesson to the al-Qadi story as well. Most Western journalists have left out of their accounts the fact that the government of poor, struggling, majority-Muslim Albania came down hard on al-Qadi right after 9/11.
The Albanians seized Al-Qadi's properties in their country, including an elaborate construction project called "the Albanian twin towers." They acted swiftly and thoroughly to expose his machinations in the Balkans - where, like other Saudis, he attempted to exploit the suffering of local Muslims for the benefit of Wahhabism, the death cult that is the Saudi state religion.
The American public needs more light, not less, shone on the Saudi connection to 9/11. We need for the Saudis to carry out a full, complete, and public investigation of their subjects' involvement in that atrocity, with arrest, trial and punishment of all those responsible, no matter how highly they are placed in Saudi society.
We need this for our own moral health. The trail of Saudi slime has already led to the fancy home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, the dean of the Washington diplomatic corps. Al-Qadi's claims of intimacy with members of our executive branch show how far the slime can splatter.
Perhaps the new commission headed by Henry Kissinger will cleanse our nation of the tracks of this evil. But action is needed now, by the Saudis.
There are two areas of the world where Muslims owe America an especially big debt. One of them is Saudi Arabia, which we have fed and coddled for 70 years. The other is the Balkans, where our actions halted the Serbian massacre of the Bosnians and Albanians.
We made Saudi Arabia what it is, and we saved the Balkan Muslims. How have these Muslim friends reacted in the wake of 9/11?
Albania exposed Yasin al-Qadi and seized his property, and tough Kosovo Albanians warned the Saudi terrorists to get out of town, or else. Bosnia-Herzegovina, just as poor and wounded as Kosovo, raided the terror charities and handed over Algerian terrorists for shipment to Guantanamo.
Both the Albanians and the Bosnians turned over every scrap of paper to Attorney General John Ashcroft. The documents included a master list of Saudi terror financiers, found in Sarajevo, which has yet to be disclosed to the public.
What did the Saudis do? They issued a memo, adopted some accounting standards and held a press conference.
There were 15 Saudis among the 19 monsters of 9/11. Half of the hard-core al Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay hold Saudi citizenship. There were no Bosnians or Albanians involved in 9/11, and there are no Bosnians or Albanians in Gitmo.
It's time we recognized and supported our real Muslim friends. It's also time for that master list found in Sarajevo to be made public. For our moral health.