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Updated: December 5, 2010 21:39 IST

Saudi Arabia a cash point for terrorists says Clinton

PTI
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
AP U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Saudi Arabia is a major focal point for terrorists financing and has failed in blocking funding for groups like al-Qaeda, Taliban and LeT, top U.S. officials believe, according to leaked U.S. cable by WikiLeaks.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret State Department cable of December 2009 which was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Besides, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are listed as major source of terrorist financing.

The U.S., which has charged the whistle-blower Wikileaks of indulging in a criminal act by stealing and releasing these cables, has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of these documents.

According to the cable, the U.S. Government engages regularly with Saudi Arabia.

It is notable that Special U.S. Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke has made several trips to Saudi and other Gulf states in his efforts to curb the flow of illicit financing to terrorist networks from the region.

“The establishment in 2008 of a Treasury attache office 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-Qaeda, Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan,” the cable says.

“In contrast to its increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qaeda’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-Qaeda and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it says.

“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 organisations such as XXXXXXXXXXXX Intelligence suggests that these groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas,” the cable says.

“In 2002, the Saudi government promised to set up a Charities Committee 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 acknowledgment of the scope of this problem and a commitment to take decisive action,” the leaked cable notes.

According to the cable, Clinton says that the State Department agrees with post’s recommendation that the U.S. must reinforce, on a political level, the Saudi Arabia Government’s recent acknowledgment that terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda are a threat both to it and to regional stability.

“The Department also supports post’s assessment that consistent engagement, including the exchange of actionable intelligence, by senior USG officials is paramount,” it said.

In the cable, the Secretary of State has issued talking point for the meetings with Saudi Arabia officials.

“We underscore that Taliban and LeT are aligned with al-Qaeda and that your government’s support for disrupting the financing of these groups is critical to the stability of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the broader Central and South Asian region. We emphasize the need to prevent Taliban from using the cover of reconciliation talks to raise funds,” one of the talking points says.

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