When American soldiers raided jihadist hideouts in northeastern Iraq this week, they found a number of foreign passports, including two from Saudi Arabia. Several weeks ago the Syrians arrested 300 Saudis before they could cross into Iraq and join the jihad against America. These are just two more bits of evidence that loyalties continue to be divided in Saudi Arabia — underscoring the urgency of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005, which was introduced in the Senate recently. The Saudis have been playing a double game since 9/11, maintaining their alliance with the U.S. while aiding the jihad worldwide; this Act tries to stop the duplicity.
This Act endeavors to “halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure full Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents, and for other purposes.” The bill — S. 1171 — notes not only that the Saudis are financing terrorist groups, but that they are also aggressively spreading the jihad ideology that fuels terrorism. And they’re doing it in America. The Saudis’ North American Islamic Trust owns over 300 mosques in the United States. The Accountability Act cites the January 2005 report from Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom, which revealed that what is being taught in those mosques: “material promoting hatred, intolerance, and violence within United States mosques and Islamic centers.” What’s more, “these publications are often official publications of a Saudi ministry or distributed by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C.”
And they put their money where their mouth is: the Accountability Act cites a September 2003 New York Times report noting that “at least 50 percent of the current operating budget of Hamas comes from ‘people in Saudi Arabia,’” as well as a July 2003 Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report stating that “Saudi-sponsored organizations have funneled over $4,000,000,000 to finance the Palestinian intifada that began in September 2000.”
And that is true despite the fact that the Saudis have not been particularly reliable allies in the war on terror. The Accountability Act refers to “various United States Government personnel who complained that the Saudis refused to cooperate in the investigation of Osama bin Laden and his network both before and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”
Meanwhile, jihadist sentiment, fueled by the most outlandish conspiracy-theory paranoia, permeates Saudi society. An Egyptian historian, Dr. Zaynab Abd Al-Aziz, asserted on Saudi TV in May that the United States brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11 at the behest of the World Council of Churches, which was enacting the Vatican’s plan to eradicate Islam and Christianize the world. The show’s host swallowed this farrago whole and lobbed the professor softballs such as: “Why is America hostile to Islam, although we never had and never will have the same conflict with them we had with Europe?”
In September 2004, the State Department added Saudi Arabia to its list of the most religiously intolerant nations in the world. But this didn’t stop the Spring 2005 crackdown on Christians in the Kingdom; nor did it lead to more calls for accountability from Washington. In April 2005, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz described U.S.-Saudi relations as “excellent.” He praised “the good relations and the will of cooperation between the two countries to serve Saudi interest first of all.”
But the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005 could change all that. It calls upon the Saudis to take genuine anti-terror steps, including to cooperate openly and fully with American anti-terror efforts; to close all “charities, schools, or other organizations or institutions” both inside and outside the Kingdom that aid in terrorism anywhere around the world, “including by means of providing support for the families of individuals who have committed acts of terrorism.” And it calls for sanctions to punish noncompliance. Such measures are the only way that Saudi Arabia could today become a genuine ally of the United States. Every American should hope that this bill bears fruit.