Leaked 2009 Cable Labels Saudi Arabia “Most Significant Source Of Funding To Terrorist Groups Worldwide” – Exposes Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, And Pakistan

By Brandon Turbeville

While the Saudi military continues to besiege Yemen and create the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet today, the United States also continues to arm and abet KSA in their war against the Yemeni people. Yemen, of course, is nothing more than a proxy war against Iran and a geopolitical chess move on the part of both the Saudis and the Americans and, for that reason, no amount of war crimes and intentional targeting of civilians has warranted anything more than a tepid criticism of the Saudis by the current US administration.

The Saudis, because of their oil and money, are untouchables. KSA can kill journalists in an open and brutal fashion, chop off heads in the city square, oppress its female population like no other country in the world, and launch unjustified wars with no consequence. KSA can even fund and direct terrorist organizations across the world with very little restraint.

That the United States has been well aware of the Saudi financing of terrorist organizations is no secret and has been revealed on numerous occasions. It has also been documented that the United States works closely with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf State feudal monarchies in the use of those terrorists around the world to further its own political and geopolitical aims.

In terms of money alone, however, Saudi Arabia is unparalleled in the ranks of nations that finance terrorism. In fact, in a leaked 2009 State Department cable and published by WikiLeaks, the United States referred to KSA as the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

The cable, signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, states that Saudi Arabia “remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups.” See “Terrorist Finance: Action Request For Senior Level Engagement On Terrorist Finance.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” the cable states.

The cable points out that Saudi Arabia is quite adept at preventing funds from being used for terrorist groups inside its borders and have been extremely efficient at preventing terrorism inside the country but that it’s funding of terrorism goes on unabated elsewhere. At the Americans’ request, certain terrorist groups were disrupted and/or de-funded, according to the cable, but little initiative comes from the Saudis. In other words, the Saudis fund a massive range of terrorist organizations across the world and work closely with the US, cutting funds and support based largely on the interests of the Americans.

The cable reads:

While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority. Due in part to intense focus by the USG over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has begun to make important progress on this front and has responded to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States through proactively investigating and detaining financial facilitators of concern. Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.

. . . . .

The USG engages regularly with the Saudi Government on terrorist financing. The establishment in 2008 of a Treasury attache office presence in Riyadh contributes to robust interaction and information sharing on the issue. Despite this presence, however, more needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan. In contrast to its increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qa’ida’s access to funding from Saudi sources, Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa’ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

. . . . .

Saudi Arabia has enacted important reforms to criminalize terrorist financing and restrict the overseas flow of funds from Saudi-based charities. However, these restrictions fail to include &multilateral organizations8 such as the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), Muslim World League (MWL) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY.) Intelligence suggests that these groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas. In 2002, the Saudi government promised to set up a &Charities Committee8 that would address this issue, but has yet to do so. The establishment of such a mechanism, however, is secondary to the primary U.S. goal of obtaining Saudi acknowledgement of the scope of this problem and a commitment to take decisive action.

The United States, the State Department, and Hillary Clinton have all been proven to have worked closely with terrorist groups themselves so the phrasing of the cable is either set up to present a sense of concern over terror funding on the part of the Secretary of State to the readers who were not fully “in the know” or it is thinly veiled concern over the possibility that KSA’s funding of terror could, eventually, grow out of America’s control. The latter has shown no evidence of having taken place, however, and any American-feigned concern over the funding of terrorism beggars belief, particularly when it comes from the very agencies and individuals who so heavily relied on using proxy forces made up of jihadist terrorists both funded by Saudi Arabia and funded, armed, directed, and trained by the United States.

Ultimately, the cable was a plain acknowledgement of the Saudi/GCC funding of terrorism while providing talking points that essentially whitewashed such funding, presenting a public and diplomatic image of two countries working together to cut Saudi funding for terrorist organizations. In reality, the two countries were indeed working together at the diplomatic level. However, their cooperation was not undertaken to stop such funding but  to continue it and to provide public relations cover to one another at the international level and those rare instances in which the two would be questioned over the funding issue.

As the Guardian reported, “Any criticisms are generally offered in private. The cables show that when it comes to powerful oil-rich allies US diplomats save their concerns for closed-door talks, in stark contrast to the often pointed criticism meted out to allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are mentioned as major source of funding for terrorism as well. Although Saudi Arabia may be the most significant source of funding for terrorism, other GCC nations are doing their part to ensure that radical jihadists are used for the appropriate geopolitical force needed by their Western allies. Kuwait, for instance, at the time of the writing of the cable, had even refused to make funding terrorism illegal. The tiny Gulf country, according to the cable has indeed done just that with its funding of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society which itself funneled money to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliates such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jemaah Islamiyah, and Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya.

Qatar was also mentioned as a country that is one of the least cooperative with the United States in terms of counterterrorism operations. The cable reads:

Qatar has adopted a largely passive approach to cooperating with the U.S. against terrorist financing. Qatar’s overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region. Al-Qaida, the Taliban, UN-1267 listed LeT, and other terrorist groups exploit Qatar as a fundraising locale. Although Qatar’s security services have the capability to deal with direct threats and occasionally have put that capability to use, they have been hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals.

It is thus noteworthy to point out that Qatar would be the one targeted and isolated by the United States and the GCC during the Trump administration and the one country that would find more common cause with Iran and Turkey than any other member of the GCC.

UAE was another high-profile terror funding source. The cable states,

UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups, including Hamas. Washington agencies note, however, that they have limited information on the identity of Taliban and LeT donors and facilitators in the UAE. Hence there is limited information to be shared with local interlocutors. Nonetheless, the point can be emphasized that the UAE’s role as a growing global financial center, coupled with weak regulatory oversight, makes it vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers and facilitation networks.

The cable also reveals the funding and direct support for terrorist organizations by the Pakistani government and specifically the Pakistani intelligence services, ISI. The cable is rather open in its discussion of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies’ ties to terror groups when it says:

Pakistan’s intermittent support to terrorist groups and militant organizations threatens to undermine regional security and endanger U.S. national security objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although Pakistani senior officials have publicly disavowed support for these groups, some officials from the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) continue to maintain ties with a wide array of extremist organizations, in particular the Taliban, LeT and other extremist organizations. These extremist organizations continue to find refuge in Pakistan and exploit Pakistan’s extensive network of charities, NGOs, and madrassas. This network of social service institutions readily provides extremist organizations with recruits, funding and infrastructure for planning new attacks. On the international stage, Pakistan has sought to block the UNSCR 1267 listings of Pakistan-based or affiliated terrorists by requesting that China place holds on the nominations. China recently placed a technical hold on the designation of three Pakistan-based or affiliated terrorists nominated by India, although China did not prevent the most recent Pakistan-related U.S. designation nomination in June.


What this cable demonstrates is that, despite its claims to the contrary, the US government is well aware of state-sponsored terrorism coming from the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE as well as from the Pakistani ISI. While Secretary Clinton’s cable may appear to be an attempt to stop GCC funding of terrorism, it actually reveals that the State Department was fully aware of Gulf funding of terrorism and that the United States and the countries named worked in close concert with one another through the entire ordeal.

Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

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