U.S.: Saudis Still Filling Al Qaeda's Coffers
ABC News: The Blotter September 11, 2007 5:40 PM
Brian Ross Reports:
Despite six years of promises, U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia continues to
look the other way at wealthy individuals identified as sending millions of
dollars to al Qaeda.
"If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one
country, it would be Saudi Arabia," Stuart Levey, the under secretary of the
Treasury in charge of tracking terror financing, told ABC News.
Despite some efforts as a U.S. ally in the war on terror, Levey says Saudi
Arabia has dropped the ball. Not one person identified by the United States
and the United Nations as a terror financier has been prosecuted by the
Saudis, Levey says.
"When the evidence is clear that these individuals have funded terrorist
organizations, and knowingly done so, then that should be prosecuted and
treated as real terrorism because it is," Levey says.
Among those on the donor list, according to U.S. officials, is Yasin al
Qadi, a wealthy businessman named on both the U.S. and U.N. lists of al
Qaeda financiers one month after the 9/11 attacks.
Al Qadi, who has repeatedly denied the allegations, remains free, still a
prominent figure in Saudi Arabia.
Al Qadi's London-based attorney, Guy Martin of Carter-Ruck law firm, said
the United States has never produced any evidence in support of the
allegations against his client.
"He hasn't been tried, let alone convicted, anywhere in any jurisdiction in
the world," said Martin. "While allegations have been made, there have been
no formal criminal proceedings."
"This is a financial Guantanamo to my client who is the victim of a gross
and on-going miscarriage of justice," said Martin. "This is a Kafka
situation where people are put on this list with no due process."
While the Saudi embassy had no comment regarding Levey's specific
allegations, a spokesman did note that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the
country took prompt action and "required Saudi banks to identify and freeze
all assets relating to terrorist suspects and entities per the list issued
by the United States government." The statement went on to say that "Saudi
banks have complied with the freeze requirements and have initiated
investigations of transactions that suspects linked to Al Qaeda may have
undertaken in the past."
U.S. officials say they are equally frustrated with what they call the empty
promises of Pakistan to go after al Qaeda's sanctuaries in their country.
Pakistan says it is willing to take action if the U.S. provides details.
"If they had specific information, they should share it with us, and we
would go after them," Pakistani Ambassador to the U.N. Munir Akram told ABC
When asked whether the U.S. can trust his country, Ambassador Akram said,
"Well, if the U.S. doesn't trust Pakistan, how can Pakistan be an ally of
A question echoed by many in the U.S.
With fresh funds and a safe haven, al Qaeda has been able to recruit and
train a new class of terrorists as well as send out a stream of new
Just today, al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden was seen on a second video
this week, introducing the video will of one of the 9/11 hijackers.
"And it remains for us to do our part," bin Laden said as he held up 9/11
hijacker Waleed al Shehri's life as an example. "So I tell every young man
among the youth of Islam: it is your duty to join the caravan until the
sufficiency is complete and the march to aid the High and Omnipotent
U.S. officials fear there are more like al Shehri heeding bin Laden's call
and coming now from Pakistan.
"The consequence is that there is in effect a sanctuary in the northwest
part of Pakistan, just like the sanctuary that used to exist before we
invaded Afghanistan," Richard Clarke, the former White House
counterterrorism official and now ABC News consultant, said.
Rhonda Schwartz and Maddy Sauer contributed to this report.
This post has been updated.