Monday, December 6, 2010
Wkileaks: Terror Funds Still Flowing ...
(CNN) -- "Terrorist funding emanating from Saudi Arabia remains a serious concern." So states a cable prepared for the visit of U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke to the kingdom earlier this year.
It is one of several that have appeared on the WikiLeaks site to indicate that despite some progress, the flow of cash to extremist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan from individuals and charities in the Gulf has certainly not been halted.
The cable, written by U.S. Ambassador James B Smith, says that the Saudis are "cooperating more actively than at any previous point to respond to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States, and to investigate and detain financial facilitators of concern."
It says the Saudi Ministry of Interior had begun to detain individuals involved in funding networks for groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), an extremist Pakistani group that carried out the Mumbai attacks in 2008, the Taliban, and Hamas.
But it says donors in Saudi Arabia "continue to constitute a source of funding to Sunni extremist groups worldwide, especially during the Hajj and Ramadan." And it adds the kingdom remains "almost completely dependent on the CIA to provide analytic support and direction for its counterterrorism operations."
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The U.S. Treasury has led efforts to block sources of terrorist funding, establishing the "Illicit Finance Task Force" and sending specialists to Kabul, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to help follow the money. It also established an office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2008. Treasury sources said earlier this year that other Gulf states had been less co-operative than the Saudis; and other cables obtained by WikiLeaks describe hundreds of millions of dollars in cash being flown from Kabul to various destinations in the region.
The Saudi authorities have made some high-profile arrests in the last two years. Ambassador Smith's cable says the Ministry of the Interior timed its announcement in August 2009 regarding the arrest of 44 terrorist supporters "to deter potential donors from giving money to suspected terrorist groups during Ramadan."
However, one leaked cable sent by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2009 noted that "it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority." It adds: "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide" -- running into millions of dollars.
"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," the cable from Clinton says. It also expresses concern that the Taliban might use the cover of reconciliation talks to raise funds. U.N. Security Council resolution 1267 lists groups and individuals accused of involvement with al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 6:14 AM