FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2003
SCHUMER: SAUDIS ARE MAIN FINANCIERS OF TERROR
Schumer says terrorist financing investigations must focus
on money that funds extremist madrassa schools across Middle East,
Pakistan and Indonesia
Schumer says efforts to stop Saudi terrorist financing will
go nowhere if Prince Naif who administers Saudi charities is not
removed from power
"It has been said so many times that it seems like old hat
– money is the lifeblood of terrorism. Cut off the funds that
allow terrorists to carry out their diabolical deeds and you can
go a long way toward shutting down their operations. This is why
I think the focus of today’s hearing – Saudi Arabia
– is so appropriate.
As has been well publicized since September 11th, Saudi Arabia
has funneled millions of dollars in the form of charitable donations
to terrorist organizations around the world. I think many of the
experts here today will agree that this is also not a new phenomenon,
but rather has a long history dating back to the 1970s.
It was then that the Saudi Royal family struck a deal with the
devil, offering to sponsor the teachings of the country’s
hardline clerics in exchange for their support of the Royal Family’s
rule. Since that time, Saudi Arabia has been the epicenter of terrorist
Successive American administrations have put the Saudis on notice
about this dangerous behavior, some more forcefully than others.
For example, reports indicate that in 1999 and 2000, then Vice President
Al Gore warned powerful members of the Saudi Royal Family to end
this flow of money to terrorists, even going so far as threatening
to use economic sanctions if the Saudis refused.
The lack of cooperation we have received from Saudi Arabia on this
issue is not surprising. As we have heard in other Congressional
hearings, several prominent members of the Saudi Royal family, including
Prince Naif, Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror czar, have supported
and even administrated these supposed charitable donations.
Naif in particular seems to enjoy thumbing his nose at the United
States at every turn. He single-handedly blocked the trial of 13
Saudis indicted in American courts for killing 19 Americans in the
bombing of Khobar Towers in 1998.
He insisted that Zionists were responsible for 9-11 and claimed
that Saudis citizens could not have been involved in the attack,
even after the Saudi government admitted that 15 of the 19 hijackers
Even as I speak, Naif appears to be up to his old tricks as reports
indicate that Saudi officials have for months denied American agents
access to a Saudi with knowledge of extensive plans to release poison
gas into the New York City subway system.
Until the usual suspects like Naif are removed from power, I am
highly skeptical that we have any chance of ending Saudi Arabia’s
involvement in terrorist financing.
Another important point to make is that it is not simply the incredible
scale of money funneled to terrorist organizations that makes Saudi
Arabia’s activity so dangerous.
Terrorism results from a dangerous cocktail of ideology and arms.
People, dissatisfied for one reason or another, fall under the spell
of extremist belief and turn to arms to resolve their dissatisfaction.
If we are to be successful in any effort to clamp down on terrorism
by choking off the money that serves as its lifeblood, we must take
aim at money that not only supports the purchase of arms but also
the spread of extremist ideology. We must end the incitement.
Experts agree that the Saudi Arabian government is the world’s
primary sponsor of a puritanical and severe approach to Islam known
as Wahhabism. This extreme form of Islamic belief is way out of
the mainstream, preaching violence against non-believers or infidels
and serving as the religious basis for Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Unlike the vast majority of American Muslims who are hardworking,
patriotic citizens and who practice moderate and peaceful Islam,
followers of Wahhabism subscribe to teachings that show Allah cursing
Christians and Jews and turning some of them into apes and pigs;
and warn Muslims to consider non-Muslims or infidels their enemy.
The Saudi government takes an aggressive approach to sponsoring
Wahhabism, providing millions of dollars to madrassa schools throughout
the Middle East, Pakistan and Indonesia in order to spread this
extremist ideology. Accordingly, it is no coincidence that these
areas are hotbeds of anti-American sentiment and extremism.
So as we discuss ongoing efforts to clamp down on terrorist financing
today and focus in on Saudi Arabia, we must not simply look at money
that goes toward buying guns, ammunition and explosives. The flow
of money that supports the spread of extremist, violent and intolerant
beliefs such as Wahhabism must also be stopped. Only then will our
efforts to end terrorist financing have the opportunity to succeed.”