London’s The Independent reports on a Wikileaks release from 2009 in which US Secretary of State Clinton says that Saudi Arabia was still a problem when it came to terrorist financing. The Saudis, she noted, lacked sufficient control over the flow of money out of the Kingdom and that the money was ending up in terrorist demands. Both Saudi nationals and foreigners in Saudi Arabia were channeling funds toward improper ends. The fact that Saudi Arabia has difficulty in monitoring the millions of people who come in for Haj was highlighted in several cables, including one from the late Richard Holbrooke, then Special Advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This matter seems to have been the target of the recently-announced anti-money laundering program. While that program will greatly reduce slippage among financial institutions, there still remains the problem of cash. The country does have laws that require the documentation of large amounts of cash moving in or out of the country, but enforcement of those laws is difficult. They are particularly difficult when it comes to pilgrims who, indeed, bring large amounts with them to pay for their keep while in Mecca and Medina. Too, many pilgrims still look to Haj as an opportunity to sell goods in order to defray their costs, often resulting in a profit. I’m not sure how the government could address these issues beyond requiring that all expenses be pre-paid and banning pilgrims from any sort of trade. That’s more easily said than done.
Saudi Arabia is ‘biggest funder of terrorists’
Saudi Arabia is the single biggest contributor to the funding of Islamic extremism and is unwilling to cut off the money supply, according to a leaked note from Hillary Clinton.
The US Secretary of State says in a secret memorandum that donors in the kingdom still “constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide” and that “it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”.
In a separate diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks last night, the militant group which carried out the Mumbai bombings in 2008, Lashkar-e-Toiba, is reported to have secured money in Saudi Arabia via one of its charity offshoots which raises money for schools.