John Gibson Interviews Stephen Schwartz [III]
by By John Gibson
GIBSON: Cracking down on terror means blocking the flow of cold, hard cash. But first you have to find the source of that cash.
Stephen Schwartz is the author of "The Two Faces of Islam" and a senior policy analyst with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy. He joins us now.
Mr. Schwartz, today news that Americans -- American authorities are going overseas to try to stop several individual Saudis who have been writing big checks to al Qaeda for a long time. They're trying to convince the Saudi government to act -- crack down on them, and trying to convince Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, all those places that handle money, to crack down on them.
How did they get away with it this long?
STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Well, they got away with it this long because people of the United States government essentially ignored it, turned a blind eye to it, and discounted those, like myself, who were pointing this out beginning right after 9/11. And some of us were pointing it out before 9/11.
It is not really a secret. It is something that if you examine the affairs of the Saudi kingdom, if you look at the activities of the Saudi Wahhabi Islamic extremist network, if you know the kind of activities they have been engaged in in many countries around the world, it wasn't really a secret.
The problem is, it seems to me, that our government made the decision that it was more important to maintain good relations with the Saudis than to push them on this.
And let me point something out to you. As The Washington Post reported this morning, the United States government is going to act against these Saudi individuals, but is actually bypassing the Saudi government because they know they can't get any cooperation from the Saudi government on this.
GIBSON: And apparently the United States government is going to say to various countries, Don't let these people in. What they're trying to do is isolate these al Qaeda contributors. If they want to write these checks, they can sit in their tent in Saudi Arabia, and they can't come to London and they can't go to Zurich and they can't come to New York. Is that a tactic that will work?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I think that the transfer of the money is international financial transfer operations can be blocked, certainly, because they're wired transfer operations. I think it will work to stop the flow of money. The point is, however, to identify and to secure the arrest and the -- and charges and legal sanctions against these individuals.
It's not enough just to stop them from giving the donations. There has to be a very thorough and transparent effort to stop the operation altogether, which means not just stopping them from writing the checks, but identifying them, charging them, and, I should hope, putting some of them, at least some of them in prison.
GIBSON: Well, we'll keep an eye on it. Stephen Schwartz, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
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