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      Op-Ed: The Tale of an American Terrorist Network

      Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 2:53 PM
      With the explosive growth of Al-Qaida and their Taliban allies, the Saudis finally recognized that they had gone too far. As Osama Bin Laden laughingly related on videotape, he was approached prior to the attack on the Twin Towers by his relatives, who offered him $300,000,000 to cancel the operation. Apparently, the Bin Laden family really had not broken off all ties and knew exactly what was com


      For twenty years I have served without compensation as a lawyer for federal whistleblowers within the US intelligence community. In the last year, I have received highly classified information from several of my confidential clients concerning a Saudi covert operation. The Saudi relationship is so sensitive that, for more than a decade, federal prosecutors and counter-terrorist agents have been ordered to shut down their investigations for reasons of foreign policy.

      I am filing a lawsuit in Hillsborough County Court to expose the manner in which Florida charities were used as a money laundering operation for tax-deductible terrorism. The complaint cites specific testimony, including highly classified information which has never been released before.

      The government of Saudi Arabia was laundering money through Florida charities run by University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, for the support of terrorist groups in the Middle East. Through the Al-Arian network and others, the Saudi Government secretly funded Al-Qaida, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Saudi purpose was twofold: the destruction of the State of Israel and the prevention of the formation of an independent Palestinian State.

      Two particular terrorist groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, were specifically chosen and funded by the Saudis for their willingness to undermine Arafat?s Palestinian Authority. The secret Saudi goal was to create such animosity between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that it would wreck any chance for the creation of an independent Palestinian State. Their tactics specifically called for the intimidation or murder of those Palestinians who were willing to work with Israel for peace.

      To put it bluntly, the covert Saudi network in Florida funded the murders of fellow Muslims for the crime of wanting to create the first democratic Arab state. Whatever harm the Israelis may have done, they did build an excellent public education system, including several universities, for the benefit of their Palestinian neighbors. That was the problem.

      While literacy in the Arab world is below 50%, in Israel it is 97%. Israel is the only place in the Middle East where an Arab woman can vote. After 50 years, Israel has created the first Arab class exposed to democracy, literacy and western values.

      To the Saudis, a democratic Palestinian nation would be a cancer in the Arab world, a destabilizing example of freedom that would threaten Arab dictators everywhere. As King Fahd has said, ?next to the Jews, we hate the Palestinians the most.? The harder the Israelis and Palestinians worked for peace, the more money King Fahd poured into his murder for hire program.

      The Saudi Government has already begun its spin operations, claiming that this terror network was a rogue operation financed by a radical Saudi businessman without the support or knowledge of the Saudi Government. The truth is that many of the Saudi Princes, notably Prince Bandahar and Prince Alwaheed, are good and loyal friends of America who want to lead Saudi Arabia into the modern world. Unfortunately, they are now in the minority in their own country.

      King Fahd is on his death bed, and his nephew and heir apparent, Crown Prince Abdullah, depends on the most radical southern and eastern clans for his political base. The southern faction is the center of popular support for Al-Qaida and the Taliban, because it is the home of the most extreme Muslim sect, the Wahabbis. Ninety nine percent of the Muslim world rejects the Wahabbi religious tenets as utterly repugnant to the teachings and examples of the Prophet as written down in the Hadith. Since most Wahabbis are functionally illiterate, they cannot read about this conflict on their own. Typically, they memorize a few passages of the Koran taken out of context, and never read the accompanying Hadith for explanation.

      For example, the Wahabbis are taught by rote that Jews are sub-humans, who should be killed as a religious duty. In contrast, the Hadith explains that the prophet Mohammed honored Jews, married a Jewish wife, forbade forced conversions of Jews, always bowed in respect when a Jewish funeral passed and promised that good and faithful Jews would go to Paradise just as good Muslims and Christians would, and that the Jews would have their Holy Place in the west (meaning Jerusalem) while Muslims would have their Holy Place in the East (meaning Mecca).

      Illiteracy is a weapon of oppression. The Saudis, and their Wahabbi proteges, the Taliban, have decreed that women cannot work or even sit in the front seat of a car. In contrast, the Hadith records that the Prophet worked for his wife and that she drove her own caravans in international commerce. The Wahabbis (both in Saudi Arabia and among the Taliban) discriminate viciously against women. The Prophet, who lovingly raised three daughters, insisted that women should have substantially equal rights in contract, ownership, and divorce. The prophet forbade racism, the Wahabbis practice it, especially against their non-Arab, Shiite minority..

      The Muslim faith envisioned by the Prophet in the Koran and recorded by his contemporaries in the Hadith is a religion that practices tolerance towards all races and religions, stresses the extreme importance of literacy and education and elevates the status of women to unprecedented levels in many societies. This is the gentle, peaceful Muslim faith practiced everywhere in the world, except in Saudi Arabia and the Taliban provinces of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Muslim scholars speak derisively about the primitive Wahabbi apostasy, but rarely in public.

      The reason for this deafening silence is simple, most mosques in the world are impoverished and depend upon Saudi subsidies for their operation. In return, however, the Saudis have gained a foothold for proselytizing and radicalizing the Muslim youth through religious education in the form of militant Wahabbism. Children learn to hate because they are being taught that way.

      The Saudi charitable network in America that began with religious education evolved into other areas over the decades. The Saudis dabbled with funding anti-Semitic hate groups as a means of breaking down American support for Israel. After the fall of communism, the Saudis took over funding the most militant terror organizations for direct attacks against Jewish and Palestinian supporters of the peace process.

      Year after year, members of the intelligence community warned that a rising wave of terror was coming. Oliver North wrote in his autobiography that every time he tried to do something about terrorism, he was told to stop because it would embarrass the Saudi Government. John O?Neill quit his job as head of FBI counter-terrorism for the same reason. Jonathan Pollard went to jail. Federal agents in Tampa, who had known about the Saudi-Sami Al-Arian connection since 1990, were ordered to drop the investigation in 1995. The Saudi influence buying machine had effectively shut down any threat of criminal prosecution. Those Americans, including a former president, who lobbied for the Saudis have a lot to answer for. So do the Saudis.

      With the explosive growth of Al-Qaida and their Taliban allies, the Saudis finally recognized that they had gone too far. As Osama Bin Laden laughingly related on videotape, he was approached prior to the attack on the Twin Towers by his relatives, who offered him $300,000,000 to cancel the operation. Apparently, the Bin Laden family really had not broken off all ties and knew exactly what was coming. So, my clients say, did the Saudis.

      Six months later, a much chagrined Prince Abdullah belatedly announced that the Saudis would release the names of the terrorists which their charities had ?unwittingly? funded, but only in Somalia and Asia. The main Saudi charities in Herndon, Virginia, and the Al-Arian network in Florida are still untouched.

      My clients are betting that the American influence peddlers hired by the Saudis will succeed once again in derailing a federal investigation. They came to me for help in exposing the cover-up. That is why I am filing this lawsuit.

      In the months to come, the American public may finally begin to learn why the Saudi-Sami Al-Arian terror networks went untouched for so long. It wasn?t an intelligence failure, it was a foreign policy failure. The orders were not to embarrass the Saudi government. Year after year, the cover-up orders came from the State Department and the White House. The CIA, the FBI and the Justice Department just did what they were told.

      No one intended the harsh consequences of letting the Saudi?s get away with it again and again. Only after September 11, when the Treasury Department found the financial transactions linking the Saudi charities directly to Osama bin Laden, did American officials realize the extent of their betrayal.

      We are not alone in our grief and anger. Saudi money sabotaged every Israeli initiative to make peace. The bewildered Palestinians may finally realize that they have been stabbed in the back by an Arab brother. The rules have changed after September 11, but the bottom line remains the same: if we want to stop terrorism, we have to tell the Saudis to stop funding it.
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      John Loftus, author of the best-selling Secret Wars Against the Jews, is an attorney.