The Saudi Connection
by Stephen Schwartz
ALMOST SIX YEARS after September 11, 2001, and more than four years since the beginning of the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq, the American government and media have begun to admit something every informed and honest Muslim in the world has known all along. That is: the "Sunni insurgency" in Iraq, as well as 9/11 and certain acts of extremist Sunni violence inside Iraq before then, are consequences of the official status of the ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, Iraq's southern neighbor. Saudi Wahhabi clerics have preached and recruited for terror in Iraq; Saudi money has sustained it; the largest number of those who have carried out suicide bombings north of the Saudi-Iraqi border have been Saudi citizens.
Does this sound obvious and familiar? Perhaps to regular readers of THE WEEKLY STANDARD and THE DAILY STANDARD, which have reported frequently on the Saudi connection to terror in the Iraq war since the phenomenon first appeared. But the truth is finally seeping out elsewhere.
On Friday, July 27, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on the links between Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi terror in Iraq, employing their usual cautious and polite language when dealing with the desert kingdom. The Post ran a Reuters rewrite of the Times reportage, casting the problem in terms of Saudi distrust for the Shia-led Iraqi administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the resulting difficulties facing Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates as they visit the Saudis this week. Seven paragraphs down, the story quoted the Times about the real issue: "the Saudis had offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq and U.S. officials were increasingly concerned about its close Arab ally's 'counterproductive' role in Iraq."
"Counterproductive" is a euphemism for Saudi state subsidies to Wahhabi clerics who demand the genocide of Shia Muslims, urge young men to go north and sacrifice themselves to that end, and preach eulogies after their deaths. It is also a diplomatic way to describe the official Saudi policy of ignoring financial contributions by rich Saudi citizens to support Wahhabi terror in Iraq. Others might call such behavior acts of war rather than merely "counterproductive."
The Times itself, in an article by Helene Cooper, further noted, "Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow."
Administration officials, the paper reported "spoke on the condition of anonymity because they believed that openly criticizing Saudi Arabia would further alienate the Saudi royal family." Then came the bald truth: "the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia [and] about 40 percent of all foreign fighters are Saudi. Officials said that while most of the foreign fighters came to Iraq to become suicide bombers, others arrived as bomb makers, snipers, logisticians and financiers."
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has "revealed" information about the Al Rajhi Bank, one of the kingdom's main financiers of Wahhabism, most of which has been available in print for several years. The "fresh" disclosures include the role of the Al Rajhi Bank in facilitating Saudi extremist operations. But the Journal admits that the Al Rajhi name appeared on a document many Westerners were loath to take seriously, the "Golden Chain" roster of al Qaeda donors seized by Bosnian authorities in Sarajevo, and handed over to the U.S. government in 2002.
Yet even the Journal seems not to have noticed that the Al Rajhi financial system's Suleiman Abdul Al-Aziz Al Rajhi also created the SAAR Foundation, an object of the federal raid known as GreenQuest, which struck a nest of Islamist entities in Northern Virginia in 2002.
Why has there been so little media interest in the role of Saudi money and influence in Iraq and elsewhere? The best explanation is media cooperation with the official U.S. preference for the "quiet, behind-the-scenes influence" that one administration after another has defaulted to in dealing with Saudi problems, and which the Saudis exploit to continue their deceptive ways.
Saudis and Iraqis, even with own imperfect media, are much better informed. Here is what they have been reading.
This, too, is merely the beginning of a long inventory of such information reported in the Muslim world. Nobody can say the Saudis, Iraqis, and other Muslims do not know who organizes and supports the Wahhabi terror in Iraq.
None of the recent "revelations" should come as a suprise to anyone. In 2002, THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported on the Al Rajhi financial network and terrorism; in 2003 on the Saudi injection of Wahhabi radicals into Iraq, including Saudi media publicity about their deaths in defense of Saddam Hussein and on Saudi involvement in combat against the U.S.-led coalition at Falluja; in 2004 on general Saudi support for terror in Iraq, and yet more on the Saudi involvement in the fight for Falluja.
One question remains: How many more American and Coalition soldiers, as well as innocent Iraqis, will be killed before the Saudis are compelled to end their support for terrorism in Iraq?