More proof of Saudi support of terrorism, from a series of reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
DOBOJ, Bosnia – For years, Saudi Arabia flatly denied it had provided money and logistical support for Islamist militant groups that attacked Western targets.
But that assertion is disputed by a former al-Qaeda commander who testified in a United Nations war-crimes trial that his unit was funded by the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina. …
…Hamad admits having done “bad things” as an al-Qaeda fighter, and he is serving a 10-year sentence in a Bosnian jail for his role in a 1997 Mostar bombing.
Yet Hamad’s account of his time in the Balkans went largely uncontroverted during the U.N. trial, where he was a prosecution witness.
He contends that the Saudi High Commission, an agency of the Saudi government, and other Islamist charities supported al-Qaeda-led units that committed atrocities. Mujaheddin units, he said, recruited fighters, prepared for battle, and financed their operations in the Balkans.
He said the Saudi High Commission had poured tens of millions of dollars into mujaheddin units led by al-Qaeda operatives who fought with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Money intended for humanitarian relief bought weapons and other military supplies.
The charities also provided false identification, employment papers, diplomatic plates and vehicles that permitted Islamist fighters to enter the country and pass easily through military checkpoints, Hamad said.
Several charity offices, including those of the Saudi High Commission, were led by former mujaheddin or al-Qaeda members, at least one of whom trained with Hamad in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, he said.
Like other al-Qaeda fighters, Hamad said, he was an employee of the Saudi High Commission for a time and traveled through the war zone in commission vehicles with diplomatic plates.
That wonderful diplomatic immunity. The Inquirer also notes the law’s exceptions allow citizens to sue foreign nations. One Philadelpia lawyer, Stephen Cozen, is putting this law to use..
Among the suit’s key assertions:
Senior Saudi officials and members of the royal family or their representatives served as executives or board members of the suspect charities when they were financing al-Qaeda operations. Overall, the Saudi government substantially controlled and financed the charities, the lawsuit alleges.
The charities laundered millions of dollars, some from the Saudi government, into al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and provided weapons, false travel and employment documents, and safe houses.
Regional offices of the charities employed, in senior positions, al-Qaeda operatives who helped coordinate support for terror cells.
Although the lawsuit argues that the Saudi government “intended” the 9/11 attacks to happen, the public record supporting that allegation is thin, and lawyers suing the kingdom have yet to generate direct evidence that any senior Saudi official conspired with al-Qaeda to attack the United States.
Instead, the lawsuit compiles hundreds of incremental disclosures from U.S government and other sources and weaves them together to form one basic assertion: Al-Qaeda’s development from ragtag regional terrorists into a global threat was fueled by Saudi money, some of it from the government.
And the charities, the lawsuit contends, were the money’s conduit.
With the help of charities affiliated with the Saudi government, the lawsuit contends, al-Qaeda spread to the vicious 1990s Balkans war, which pitted indigenous Muslims, their al-Qaeda allies, and other mujaheddin against Serbs and Croats.
The organization then leapfrogged to attack Western targets, including two U.S. embassies in East Africa, the U.S. destroyer Cole, and finally the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“In a lot of ways this case is very unique, and in a lot of ways it is very mundane,” Cozen said in an interview. “It is unique in that it is grounded in one of the worst events in U.S. history. It is mundane in that we are not breaking new ground in tort [liability] law. The law has always recognized the liability of those who participate in a conspiracy and those who aid and abet.”
Unless those conspirators are good and generous friends of Republicans and Democrats. But still, Cozen plows forward:
Cozen lawyers argued that the Saudis not only had funded and controlled the charities, but had been warned that the charities helped launder money into al-Qaeda. The defense insisted that there was no evidence that the Saudi government had supported acts of terrorism, and that the kingdom itself had been a victim of extremist groups, including al-Qaeda.
In one particularly intense hearing, Casey pushed back hard against Saudi arguments. For a while, Cozen lawyers thought they had been able to convince him.
But only a few weeks later, in January, and then in September, Casey issued two hard-hitting and emphatic rulings. He found the Saudi government immune from being sued because its oversight and financial support for the charities constituted normal government activities.
And he discounted information that the Saudis had been warned about the charities’ money-laundering, and cited a 9/11 Commission finding that it had “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al-Qaeda.
Cozen and associates were outraged. They believed their investigation had gone considerably beyond the work of the 9/11 Commission, by showing that the Saudis had substantial control over the charities, had been warned repeatedly that the charities posed a problem, yet had had taken no actions.
Casey, Cozen felt, had profoundly misconstrued the case by failing to recognize Saudi responsibility.
Cozen lawyers began mapping their appeal.
The charities named as defendants were so tightly interwoven with the Saudi government that an appeal of Casey’s ruling had a good chance of success, they believed. Their own investigation had uncovered facts missed by Congress and the 9/11 Commission, they thought.
Absent financial support from the charities, some of it Saudi government money, they argued, bin Laden would never have been able to pull off 9/11.
At the same time, they pushed forward on their investigation, combing through files and querying defendants. One of those was a major al-Qaeda operative, founder and financier named Wa’el Julaidan. The U.S. Treasury Department designated Julaidan a terrorism financier in 2002.
But Julaidan, responding to Cozen questioning, said the government of Saudi Arabia had subjected him to no penalties or sanctions.
His response mirrored statements by U.S. officials, most recently Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary for international terrorism, who said last year that he was unaware of any Saudi sanctions imposed on terrorism financiers living in Saudi Arabia.
Like many Americans, I was aware that Saudi Arabia was responsible for the 9/11 attacks since about October 2001. This news is no surprise at all.
But it is surprising that that the issue is being covered by the media. Well, one media source, anyway. According to my search of Google News, the Philadelphia Inquirer is the only newspaper covering this.
The media tends to put up a unified effort to ignore news like this, just as they united in the effort to chicken out on publishing the Danish cartoons. The effort to protest the cartoons was a Saudi effort, after all, and our elites want to show the proper respect for our moderate allies in the war against terrorism.
I just wonder – what strange circumstance of fate allowed the Philadelphia Inquirer to grow a pair, and how long will they be able to keep them?