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Monday, June 21, 2004

al Qaeda financing

Here's a line from the September 11 Commission report (as posted on the MSNBC website) last week that I missed in the news coverage I read:
There is no convincing evidence that any government financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11 (other than limited support provided by the Taliban after Bin Ladin first arrived in Afghanistan).
That sort of minimizes Saddam Hussein's potential mischief, eh? What exactly did the administration think he was doing if it didn't include any financial support?

This bit on Saudi financing has been more widely quoted, but I wanted to include it here since I've often blogged about the Saudi connections to the Bush family and to terror.
Some governments may have turned a blind eye to al Qaeda’s fundraising activities. Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al Qaeda funding, but we found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda. Still, al Qaeda found fertile fundraising ground in the Kingdom, where extreme religious views are common and charitable giving is essential to the culture and, until recently, subject to very limited oversight.
Since Saudi Arabia has come under increasing violent attack by al Qaeda, they are less willing to look the other way.

As I've often pointed out, Pakistan, America's newest "major non-NATO" ally did support bin Laden up until 9/11:
Pakistan did not break with the Taliban until after 9/11, although it was well aware that the Taliban was harboring Bin Ladin. The Taliban’s ability to provide Bin Ladin a haven in the face of international pressure and UN sanctions was significantly facilitated by Pakistani support. Pakistan benefited from the Taliban-al Qaeda relationship, as Bin Ladin’s camps trained and equipped fighters for Pakistan’s ongoing struggle with India over Kashmir.
Given their nuclear proliferation record, I really hope the US is keeping a very close eye on the situation in Pakistan.

Finally, as my students can attest, I've long been interested in the alleged links of terrorists to the drug trade and "blood" diamonds. The 9/11 commission says this is mythical.
No persuasive evidence exists that al Qaeda relied on the drug trade as an important source of revenue, or funded itself through trafficking in diamonds from African states engaged in civil wars.
Hmmm, remember those Super Bowl commercials about how people who use drugs support terror?

Note: Thanks to Brad DeLong for reproducing most of an editorial from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which quoted the key first line above.

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