Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Saudi Arabia is prime source of terror funds, U.S. says
Treasury official expresses frustrations with the administration's efforts to force action by the kingdom. A Senate panel orders a review.
by Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 2, 2008
WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia remains the world's leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration's top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.
Stuart A. Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told a Senate committee that the Saudi government had not taken important steps to go after those who finance terrorist organizations or to prevent wealthy donors from bankrolling extremism through charitable contributions, sometimes unwittingly.
"Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world," Levey said under questioning.
U.S. officials have previously identified Saudi Arabia as a major source of funding for extremism. But Levey's comments were notable because, although reluctant to directly criticize a close U.S. ally, he acknowledged frustration with administration efforts to persuade the Saudis and others to act.
Saudis 'brace for nuclear war' after Cheney visit.
Popular government-guided Saudi newspaper Okaz recently reported that the Saudi Shura Council approved of nuclear fallout preparation plans only a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Kingdom's high ranking officials, including King Abdullah.
Bush's $20 billion arms deal with Saudis.
Earlier, in the United Arab Emirates, Bush told a gathering of entrepreneurs and others that he wanted them to understand that America respects their religion.
"We want to work together for the sake of freedom and peace," he said.