2004 News Story

Saudi Advisor refutes alleged funding of terrorism in Iraq

Crown Prince Abdullah’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Adel Al-Jubeir was interviewed today by Wolf Blitzer on CNN and by Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, concerning recent accusations by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida) that Saudi money has been financing the insurgency in Iraq. Al-Jubeir said Graham’s accusations were “irresponsible” and not “borne out by the facts.”

“We have been serious in combating terrorism because terrorism is out to murder our people and our residents,” Al-Jubeir told Blitzer. “Allegations that [Graham] has made about Saudi Arabia have been debunked by the 9/11 Commission report. … It seems to me that wherever he’s getting his information is not very reliable.”

As for Afghanistan, Al-Jubeir pointed out to Bartiromo that Saudi Arabia is one of the largest donors toward the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, both financially and materially. “If what we are doing in Afghanistan is against American interests, I don’t believe the senator is aware of what the interests of his country are.”

When Blitzer cited a recent DIA report suggesting that Saudi money - not necessarily Saudi government money - is being funneled through Syria to help fund Iraq’s insurgency, Al-Jubeir commented: “I believe the actual report by the Defense Intelligence Agency is slightly different from the way it was reported.” He went on to ask how they knew that it was Saudi money. “We have taken very strong steps to make sure that our banks are solid, to make sure that our charities cannot send money abroad, that it is very difficult for people to raise cash and take it through couriers into Iraq. We have stopped individuals from doing so. We have captured individuals who have tried to send money to Iraq, and we have put them in jail. Our point is that we are very serious that no Saudi money or no Saudi individuals go to Iraq to fight in the insurgency, because they will come back and fight us in Riyadh. And if anyone has any information that can help us apprehend those individuals, please provide it to us so we can take very firm action against them.”

Bartiromo brought up the case of four Saudis caught trying to cross into Iraq earlier this week. Al-Jubeir acknowledged that Saudi individuals are trying to enter Iraq “as are individuals from other countries including European countries. “What we have done is beefed up security along the border with Iraq and it is unfortunate that the border guards on the Iraqi side are not present. They disappeared after the war. And the U.S. is stretched thin in Iraq. In order to seriously monitor the border on the Iraqi side, we are working with the U.S. every day to ensure we can prevent and seal the border to prevent people from coming into Iraq.”

Al-Jubeir told Blitzer that there was “very little” support in Saudi Arabia for the insurgency in Iraq “because nobody will condone the killing of the innocent. We are fighting our own insurgency against terrorists in Saudi Arabia …… It’s a small group, and we are going after them. We’re going after the mindset. We’re going after the finances, and we’re making progress.”  He explained that charities in Saudi Arabia are now prohibited from withdrawing cash from their accounts. “They don’t even have bank cards.” They’re also prohibited from sending money abroad “until we have a new entity in place through which all charitable contributions will flow.” The Kingdom has also advised citizens during Ramadan not to make contributions in cash but to put them directly into the charities’ bank accounts so that the money can be tracked. “You’re right. It’s a very difficult challenge, and we’re working very, very hard to have control over it. So the charges that are being bandied about from someone like Sen. Graham to say that Saudi Arabia is not doing enough are not only irresponsible but not supported by the facts.”

[Transcript of CNN interview]