Similarly The Guardian in London, on December 5, 2010 reported the following: “US embassy cables: Hillary Clinton says Saudi Arabia ‘a critical source of terrorist funding'”.
Saudi Arabia arguably remains the most prolific sponsor of international Islamist terrorism, allegedly supporting groups as disparate as the Afghanistan Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Al-Nusra Front. But Saudi involvement in terror has not been condemned equally harshly.
According to Newsweek, the United Kingdom government may decide to keep secret the results of an official inquiry completed last year into the supporters of the Islamist militant groups in the country. The findings are believed to have references to Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United Kingdom.
According to two studies published in 2007 – one by Mohammed Hafez of the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the other by Robert Pape of the University of Chicago – most of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudis.
Former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, believes that sadly, the Saudi’s Wahhabist interpretation of Islam has done much to overwhelm more moderate local interpretations of Islam in Southeast Asia, pitching the Saudi-interpretation of Islam as the “gold standard” of religion in minds of Muslims across the globe.
Irish journalist Patrick Cockburn recently accused Saudi Arabia of supporting extremist Islamist groups in the Syrian Civil War, writing: “In Syria, in early 2015, it supported the creation of the Army of Conquest, primarily made up of the al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Nusra Front and the ideologically similar Ahrar al-Sham, which won a series of victories against the Syrian Army in Idlib province.”
European high-ranking politicians have also warned of Saudi involvement. In 2015, Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor of Germany, accused Saudi Arabia of supporting intolerance and extremism, saying: “Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities.”
In May 2016, The New York Times editorialised that the kingdom had “spent untold millions promoting Wahhabism, the radical form of Sunni Islam that inspired the 9/11 hijackers and that now inflames the Islamic State”.
Iranian analyst Hamidreza Taraghi confirmed the editorial statement by the NYT: “ISIS ideologically, financially and logistically is fully supported and sponsored by Saudi Arabia…They are one and the same”.
For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia were the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, according to a 2002 CFR Task Force Report. A 2004 update to that Council of Foreign Relations report, Saudi officials have taken some steps to disrupt terrorist financing in their country, yet charities continue to play a role in the sponsorship of terrorist groups.
“In the Islamic world, there are tens of thousands of charities,” says Robert Collins, coauthor of the book Alms for Jihad. While as few as a hundred may sponsor terrorism, “these are some of the wealthiest charities,” Collins pointed out. Experts say the charities raise funds with the express intent of supporting terrorists.
In the United States, a special agency — the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence — coordinates efforts to prohibit terror funding. The Patriot Act, along with subsequent legislation, created tough legal measures to combat terrorist financing, as banks must now report any suspicious activities and are also required to check their clients and third parties involved in transactions against a list of suspected terrorists.
While these measures have been fairly effective within the United States, Loretta Napoleoni, an expert on terrorist financing, says terrorists have simply “shifted all the money to Europe”.
A German political analyst told Iranian news agency Tasnim last week that Saudi Arabia was one of the “most dedicated and dangerous sponsors” of terrorist groups both in the Middle East and the West.
“Saudi Arabia is one of the most dedicated and dangerous sponsors and supporters of terrorist groups not just in the region but also in the West,” Manuel Ochsenreiter, the director of German Center for Eurasian Studies, explained.
Recently terrorists opened fire at a military parade in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz. According to Ochsenreiter “this terrorist operation shows very well that Iran is a country which is threatened by the same terrorist forces threatening Syria and many European countries. The political pattern of the terrorists opening fire in Ahvaz is the same as those killing civilians with a truck in Germany or France”. He said it was shame that Europe had remained silent about the Ahvaz attack.
The al-Ahvaziya terror group, present in several European countries, including in the Netherlands and in Denmark, has claimed responsibility for the attack in Ahvaz. The group backed is by Saudi Arabia, and has a record of carrying out sabotage acts in Iran’s Khuzestan province, which is littered with Arab-dominated towns.
Ochsenreiter says the West has been following a dangerous and twisted logic in the fight against terror. “Saudi Arabia is one of the most dedicated and dangerous sponsors and supporters of terrorist groups not just in the region but also in the West. At the same time, Western countries declare Saudi Arabia an ‘important ally’ in the war on terror. This is a twisted and dangerous stance towards Riyadh by the West.
“The fact that these terrorist organisations can recruit their ‘fighters’ in Europe is a shame for the European security agencies. And it is a shame that Iran is still considered by many European governments as a ‘terrorist sponsor’ while Tehran is fighting terrorism in Syria.”
Following the attack in Iran, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an adviser to the Abu Dhabi government, even justified the attack on Twitter. Ochsenreiter condemned the statement. “If the government of UAE doesn’t immediately distance itself from Mr. Abdulla, it should be put under sanctions. This is not just in the interest of the inner security of Iran – but also of Europe.
“It is not just about Iran, it is about diplomatic and political principles. If the UAE neglects these principles for Iran, it will sooner or later neglect them also for Europe,” Ochsenreiter concluded.