Don't Panic! September 11 2003

Your war questions answered

Is Saudi Arabia helping the U.S. fight the War On Terror(TM) yet?

To say that Saudi Arabia's contribution to the War On Terror(TM) since 9-11 has been half-assed would be offensive to kind, decent, half-assed people everywhere. Half-asses would understandably, though half-assedly, bristle at being compared to such a rotten country.

Maybe half-assed isn't the right adjective anyway. Calling their response to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism half-assed is too generous — by approximately one cheek.

When we found out that 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, the country's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, immediately changed his name to Cleopatra, Queen of Denial. The official Saudi response was something like, "We don't support terrorists. You must be talking about that other Saudi Arabia. Hey, we're your pals. Don't let those 15 bad camels fool you into thinking the whole herd is rotten."

Well, the whole herd is rotten. Although members of our government and media sometimes deceive themselves (and us) with the idea that Saudi Arabia is our friend, the fact is that they're not and they never were. Saudi Arabia is nothing more than a business partner to a small group of powerful, wealthy Americans. They send us oil; we send them money. Then they send us some of the money back, and we send them F-15s. Unless you're cashing a commission check for one of those transactions, Saudi Arabia was never your friend.

Saudi Arabia is a religious fundamentalist state, ruled by a partnership consisting of its greedy royal family and the leaders of a homegrown extremist sect of Sunni Islam known as the Wahhabis. Loosely translated, Wahabbi means "Oil-rich desert Taliban." Saudi schools and mosques have raised several caravans worth of people to think that killing Jews, Christians and non-Wahabbi Muslims is a good idea. Saudi Arabia also raised Osama bin Laden. Muslims who aren't Wahhabi — such as Saudi Arabia's Shi'ites — suffer discrimination. Religions other than Islam aren't allowed. Women are denied freedom of movement and basic work rights.

And how's about this for friendly: According to a new book by Gerald Posner titled Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, bin Laden and al-Qaeda were on the Saudi payroll throughout the 1990s and even after the 9-11 attacks. Posner, who also has written two books debunking conspiracy theories surrounding the murders of JFK and MLK, alleges the Saudi prince in charge of state intelligence, along with several other princes, has an arrangement to supply money to al-Qaeda in exchange for keeping the terror outside of Saudi Arabia itself.

So yeah, Saudi Arabia has been serious about fighting the War On Terror(TM). Unfortunately, they've been fighting for the wrong side. Saudi Arabia's problem this: If its royal/religious devil's bargain comes apart, then the whole country could come apart. There are signs that the royals who want to be friendly with the West and not get toppled by krazy Koran-thumpers might be getting the upper hand. Al-Qaeda's May 12 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi's capital, woke the country up to the fact that it shouldn't be cutting deals with al-Qaeda. And a March dormitory fire in Mecca, in which 15 girls died because the idiot religious police wouldn't let them flee a burning building without correct religious dress, reminded Saudis that religious fundamentalism isn't just about fun stuff like yelling and bombing Westerners.

Saudi Arabia is now, finally, nearly two years after 9-11, letting American law enforcement into the country to partner with Saudis in the fight against terrorism. And the country's elderly King Fahd has recently spoken out against what he called "excess in religion." It's a big deal, because the old King doesn't speak about much these days.

Meanwhile, back at home, Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar recently hung out with George Bush Sr. at his home in Maine. In fact, Bandar is so friendly with the Bush family (current prez included) that when it was reported that charitable donations by Bandar's wife went to 9-11 terrorists, instead of getting deported she got heartfelt Bush sympathy.

Bandar's the guy who, immediately after 9-11, got Bush to OK the airlift of members of the bin Laden family out of the U.S. While you and I were grounded, the bin Ladens got to fly home. Apparently the Saudis aren't the only people who need to get serious about fighting terrorism.


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