ZOA Supports Specter/Wyden Bill Pressuring Saudi Arabia To End Its Support For Institutions That Promote Terrorism
November 6, 2007

New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is strongly supporting Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in their sponsorship of the ZOA-initiated Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2007 (S. 2243), which is designed to “strongly encourage the government of Saudi Arabia to end its support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, to secure full Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents, [and] to denounce the Saudi sponsorship of extremist Wahhabi ideology…”

The Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2007 calls for Saudi Arabia to permanently close all schools, charities and other organizations within Saudi Arabia that fund, train, incite, encourage, aid or abet terrorists anywhere in the world, including providing support for families of individuals who support terrorism. It also calls for the termination of all Saudi aid and assistance to overseas organizations that fund, train, incite, encourage, aid or abet terrorism; the blocking of all such support by private Saudi organizations and individuals; and complete, unrestricted and unobstructed Saudi cooperation with the U.S. in combating terror. The Act requires the Secretary of State to report six months after its enactment to appropriate congressional committees on Saudi progress in meeting the requirements of the law and to do so thereafter every 12 months until the President certifies that Saudi Arabia is in compliance with the Act.

Some key findings acknowledged by the Act:

  • The Council on Foreign Relations concluded in a 2002 report that “for years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, and for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye.”

  • In a June 2004 report entitled “Update on the Global Campaign Against Terrorist Financing,” the Council on Foreign Relations reported that “we find it regrettable and unacceptable that since September 11, 2001, we know of not a single Saudi donor of funds to terrorist groups who have been publicly punished.”

  • A joint committee of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives issued a report on July 24, 2003, quotes 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.

  • A report of the Council of Foreign Relations which observes that “not a single Saudi donor of funds to terrorist groups … has been punished.”

  • A July 2005 U.S. Department of Treasury report indicates that Saudi funding is an important source of support for the terrorist insurgency targeting U.S. personnel and civilians in Iraq.

  • The 9/11 Commission, having interviewed numerous military officers and government officials who repeatedly listed Saudi Arabia as a prime location for terrorists to set up bases, found that “Saudi Arabia’s society was a place where al-Qaeda raised money directly from individuals through charities.”

  • The Center for Religious Freedom, formerly affiliated with Freedom House, in a 2006 report entitled “Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance,” stated that despite 2005 statements by the Saudi Foreign Minister that their educational curricula have been reformed, this is “simply not the case.”
    The 2007 Iraq Study Group stated that Saudi Arabia has been “passive and disengaged” with regard to the situation in Iraq.

  • A fall 2007 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom stated that, “Due to insufficient information provided by the Saudi government, the Commission could not verify that a formal mechanism exists within the Saudi government to review thoroughly and revise educational texts and other materials sent outside of Saudi Arabia. It appears that the Saudi government has made little or no progress on efforts to halt the exportation of extremist ideology outside the Kingdom.”

  • The New York Sun reported on July 30, 2007 that Saudi Arabian citizens and organizations have “acted as conduits, financiers, and facilitators for a wide variety of Islamic terror groups — from al-Qaeda to Hamas — for about 20 years now.”

  • A July 27, 2007 New York Times article which discloses that, “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.”

In introducing this Act, Senator Specter said, “Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, evidence has emerged indicating that support for al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other organizations has come from Saudi Arabia. Testimony presented to several Congressional committees, including the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Intelligence committees in both houses, has indicated that Saudi Arabia is an epicenter for terrorist financing. These committees have also found the Saudi government’s cooperation in investigations into the al-Qaeda terrorist network has been lackluster … The 9/11 Commission interviewed numerous military officers and government officials who repeatedly listed Saudi Arabia as a prime place for terrorists to set up bases and found that ‘Saudi Arabia’s society was a place where al Qaeda raised money directly from individuals through charities’ … My frustration with the Saudi government’s lack of cooperation in international counterterrorism efforts goes back more than a decade. After the Khobar Towers were bombed in 1996–an attack which cost nineteen American airmen their lives and injured 400 more–I traveled to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to see the carnage firsthand. When I arrived, U.S. investigators were being denied the opportunity to interview the suspects apprehended by the Saudis. I personally met with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to request that the FBI be granted access to the prisoners. Crown Prince Abdullah said that the U.S. should not meddle in Saudi internal affairs; the murder of nineteen U.S. airmen and the wounding of 400 more hardly qualifies as a Saudi internal affair. The Saudi government continues to drag its feet when it comes to cooperation in combating terrorism. The Iraq Study Group stated that Saudi Arabia has been “passive and disengaged” with regard to the situation in Iraq. Passive and disengaged is unacceptable when Saudi institutions are funding, training, inciting, and encouraging many terrorist actions in Iraq … In my judgment, the U.S. has been lenient with the Saudis out of deference to Saudi oil. It is really an open scandal that we have not taken action to secure some independence from our reliance on Saudi oil.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We applaud Senators Specter and Wyden for introducing this vital legislation, which addresses perhaps one the most important, neglected aspects of the war on Islamism and we are proud to have been able to assist in this critical effort. ZOA is proud to have been able to assist in this critical effort. This legislation deals with Saudi complicity in the war waged by Islamist terrorists against the United States, Israel and the West. It does not simply deal with Saudi individuals or private organizations that are terrorists, hate-mongers or donors to extreme Islamist causes, but with the official acts of commission and omission by the government of Saudi Arabia.

“The leading role that Saudi Arabia has played in the dissemination of extreme Wahhabi ideology is unfortunately to be seen everywhere in the world — from the madrassahs inciting hatred and fanaticism in Pakistan and Bangladesh, to the appearance of Islamist ideology in Bosnia, to the new recruits to jihad to have emerged in recent years in formerly more moderate Muslim societies like Indonesia. It is not a coincidence that 15 of the 19 of the September 11 suicide terrorists were Saudi nationals and as such had been most exposed to this murderous, hateful and truly dangerous ideology. It is also no coincidence that credible reports have emerged in the past year noting that over 50% of the so-called insurgents murdering American servicemen and Iraqi civilians are Saudi infiltrators. All of this suggests very strongly that we are dangerously handicapping ourselves by continuing to treat the Saudis as valued allies to be rewarded with arms sales and diplomatic praise rather than to be called to account and sanctioned.

“The Bush Administration has repeatedly failed to deal with Saudi malfeasance. In 2005, President Bush certified that ‘Saudi Arabia is cooperating in efforts to combat international terrorism,’ enabling the U.S. to give financial assistance to Saudi Arabia. This July, the Bush Administration proposed a $20 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia. These acts are not only a repudiation of President Bush’s own personal commitment to fight both terrorists and the regimes that incubate them, but signal world-wide that rewards rather than punishment lies ahead for regimes that are harming America and our allies.

“The ZOA urges Congress to pass this legislation without delay.”

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