The Princess and Her "Charities"
From the December 9, 2002 issue: The real Saudi scandal.
Dec 9, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 13 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
It is unsurprising, then, that U.S. authorities have questioned personnel from the Saudi embassy's Islamic Affairs section about their relationship with Omar al-Bayoumi. Recently, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (my employer), in conjunction with the Saudi Institute, issued a report (available at www.defenddemocracy.org) on the role of the Islamic Affairs section in distributing Wahhabi hate literature in the United States. But those who have followed the activities of Islamic terror charities also recognize an interesting fact about al-Midhar and Alhazmi, the hijacker recipients of the princess's largesse. These men were not mere foot soldiers in the conspiracy. They are the same two men who were tracked by Malaysian intelligence and the CIA after their attendance at an al Qaeda planning meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2000, as they traveled across the Pacific and into this country--where their trail went cold thanks to bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and the FBI. They were big fish--perhaps among the biggest in the team.
Further, the global travels of al-Midhar and Alhazmi fit exactly the pattern of Wahhabi "missionaries" and "relief workers" serving in the terrorist apparatus: plenty of movement, plenty of cover. If everybody else knew these two were bad news, and everybody else knew that Osama Basnan was a bin Ladenite, why did Bandar and his wife remain supine about these facts until they were exposed in the media? How does that square with the status of the chief of the Washington diplomatic corps, representing our oldest ally in the Arab world?
We need no advice from the Saudis on how to investigate these issues, especially since they themselves refuse to fulfill their responsibilities in this area. The deep social crisis of the Saudi kingdom has been aggravated by the consequences of September 11. The outcome will affect the destiny of the Islamic global community for generations. It is time for the United States to insist on a full accounting of Saudi involvement in September 11, justice for the perpetrators, and a complete break with Wahhabism by the Saudi state. Nothing else will do--for our moral health and theirs.
Stephen Schwartz is senior policy analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and author of "The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror."