Thursday, July 14, 2005

Our Friends the Saudis

Time to state the obvious:
The US government has suggested wealthy Saudi individuals remain "a significant source" of funds for Islamic terrorists around the world, despite widely-publicized efforts by the desert kingdom to shut down these channels.

The statement by Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, contrasted with earlier upbeat assessments by US officials that Saudi Arabia was making good progress in stemming the flow of private money to terrorist groups.

Levey said challenges posed by terrorist financing from within Saudi Arabia were "among the most daunting" his agency had to face as it tries to persuade Islamic nations to strengthen controls over their banks and charitable organizations.

"Wealthy Saudi financiers and charities have funded terrorist organizations and causes that support terrorism and the ideology that fuels the terrorists' agenda", Levey told lawmakers Wednesday.

"Even today, we believe that Saudi donors may still be a significant source of terrorist financing, including for the insurgency in Iraq," he added.

US officials expressed particular concern about three Saudi-run charities that operate around the world: the International Islamic Relief Organization, the World Association of Muslim Youth and the Muslim World League.