“WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” declares The Guardian, reporting on the US State Department’s concerns about the Kingdom’s role in funding al Qaeda and other militant organizations.
The New York Times opts for the bland, “Cash Flow to Terrorists Evades U.S. Efforts,” with a subhead, “Arab Allies Resist U.S. Moves to Close Aid Pipelines, Cables Say.”
Reporters Eric Lichtblau and Eric Schmitt wait until paragraph nineteen of their report to declare: “Saudi Arabia, a critical military and diplomatic ally, emerges in the cables as the most vexing of problems.” Paragraph nineteen! Why wasn’t that in the first paragraph? Just because President Obama has demonstrated his willingness to bow to King Abdullah, does the Times feel obliged to assume the same posture?
The Guardian reports:
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.
“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.
Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
The cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them.
The problem is particularly acute in Saudi Arabia, where militants soliciting funds slip into the country disguised as holy pilgrims, set up front companies to launder funds and receive money from government-sanctioned charities.