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Profile: Saudi Arabia

 
  

Positions that Saudi Arabia has held:



 

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Saudi Arabia actively participated in the following events:

 
  

December 26, 1979: Soviet Forces, Lured in by the CIA, Invade Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. They will withdraw in 1989 after a brutal 10-year war. It has been commonly believed that the invasion was unprovoked. However, in a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, will reveal that the CIA began destabilizing the pro-Soviet Afghan government six months earlier in a deliberate attempt to get the Soviets to invade and have their own Vietnam-type costly war: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” [Mirror, 1/29/02; Le Nouvel Observateur, 1/98] The US and Saudi Arabia give a huge amount of money (estimates range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the mujahedeen guerrilla fighters opposing the Russians. Most of the money is managed by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. [Nation, 2/15/99]
People and organizations involved: United States, Saudi Arabia, Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency, Zbigniew Brzezinski
          

April 9, 1994: The Saudi Government Publicly Breaks with Osama bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Saudi government revokes bin Laden's citizenship and moves to freeze his assets in Saudi Arabia because of his support for Muslim fundamentalist movements. [PBS Frontline, 9/01; New York Times, 4/10/94] However, allegedly, this is only a public front and they privately continue to support him as part of a secret deal allegedly made in 1991 (see Summer 1991).
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden
          

1996: Saudi Regime Goes "to the Dark Side"      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Saudi Arabian government, which allegedly initiated payments to al-Qaeda in 1991 (see Summer 1991), increases its payments in 1996, becoming al-Qaeda's largest financial backer. It also gives money to other extremist groups throughout Asia, vastly increasing al-Qaeda's capabilities. [New Yorker, 10/16/01] Presumably, two meetings in early summer bring about the change. Says one US official, “[19]96 is the key year. ... Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys—it's like the Grand Alliance—and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations.” The Saudi regime, he says, had “gone to the dark side.” Electronic intercepts by the NSA “depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it.” US officials later privately complain “that the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration, is refusing to confront this reality, even in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.” [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Clinton administration, National Security Agency, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia
          

March 1996: US, Sudan Squabble over bin Laden's Fate      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is currently based in that country. According to some accounts, Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's defense minister engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. Some accounts claim that Sudan offers bin Laden to the US, but the US decides not to take him because they do not have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime [Washington Post, 10/3/01; Village Voice, 10/31/01] Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for both Clinton and George W. Bush, calls this story a “fable” invented by the Sudanese and Americans friendly to Sudan. He points out that bin Laden “was an ideological blood brother, family friend, and benefactor” to Sudanese leader Hassan al-Turabi, so any offers to hand him over may have been disingenuous. [Clarke, 2004, pp 142-43] (CIA Director Tenet later denies that Sudan made any “direct offers to hand over bin Laden.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] ) The US reportedly asks Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to accept bin Laden into custody, but is refused by all three governments. [Coll, 2004, pp 323] The 9/11 Commission later claims it finds no evidence that Sudan offers bin Laden directly to the US, but it does find evidence that Saudi Arabia is discussed as an option. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] US officials insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: “We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01; Washington Post, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet, Hassan al-Turabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, United States
          

May 1996: Saudis and al-Qaeda Allegedly Strike a Secret Deal      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The Hotel Royale Monceau.
French intelligence secretly monitors a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris this month with the financial representative of al-Qaeda. “The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, [meet] to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This [is] not so much an act of support but of protection—a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia.” [Palast, 2002, pp 100] Participants also agree that bin Laden should be rewarded for promoting Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam that requires literal interpretation of the Koran) in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, and other places. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (C)] This extends an alleged secret deal first made between the Saudi government and bin Laden in 1991. Later, 9/11 victims' relatives will rely on the “nonpublished French intelligence report” of this meeting in their lawsuit against important Saudis. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] According to French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard and/or reporter Greg Palast, there are about 20 people at the meeting, including an unnamed brother of bin Laden and an unnamed representative from the Saudi Defense Ministry. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (C)] Palast, noting that the French monitored the meeting, asks, “Since US intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes why didn't the government immediately move against the Saudis?” [Palast, 2002, pp 100]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda
          

May 26, 1997: Taliban Government Is Officially Recognized by Saudis      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Saudi government becomes the first country to extend formal recognition of the Taliban government of Afghanistan. Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates will follow suit. On 9/11, these three countries are the only countries that officially recognize the Taliban. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Taliban, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan
          

November 1997: Enron and bin Laden Family Team Up for Project      Complete 911 Timeline

       Industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans for open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. Interestingly, one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladin Group (run by Osama's family), and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 1/22/98]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Enron, Saudi Binladin Group, Office for the Protection of the Constitution
          

April 1998: Hijacker Associate Receives Saudi Money; FBI Fails to Investigate      Complete 911 Timeline

       Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, claims to write a letter to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, according to University of California at San Diego hospital records, Basnan's wife, Majeda Dweikat, is not treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego, although the 9/11 Commission has concluded that evidence does not support these charges. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04] Prior to this time, the FBI had several chances to investigate Basnan, but failed to do so. In 1992, they received information suggesting a connection between him and a militant group later associated with bin Laden. In 1993, they received reports that Basnan hosted a party for al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman the year before, but again they failed to investigate. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] According to one US official, Basnan later “celebrate[s] the heroes of September 11” and talks about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been” at a party shortly after 9/11. [Newsweek, 11/24/02; San Diego Magazine, 9/03]
People and organizations involved: Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia, Osama Basnan, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Majeda Dweikat, 9/11 Commission, Haifa bint Faisal, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Osama bin Laden
          

June 1998: Taliban and Saudis Discuss bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       Relations between Taliban head Mullah Omar and bin Laden grow tense, and Omar discusses a secret deal with the Saudis, who have urged the Taliban to expel bin Laden from Afghanistan. Head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki al-Faisal travels to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and brokers the deal. According to Prince Turki, he seeks to have the Taliban turn bin Laden over to Saudi custody. Omar agrees in principle, but requests that the parties establish a joint commission to work out how bin Laden would be dealt with in accordance with Islamic law. [Coll, 2004, pp 400-02] Note that some reports of this meeting—and the deal discussed—vary significantly from Prince Turki's version. However, before a deal can be reached, the US strikes Afghanistan in August in retaliation for the US African embassy bombings (see August 20, 1998), driving Omar and bin Laden back together. Prince Turki later states that “the Taliban attitude changed 180 degrees,” and that Omar is “absolutely rude” to him when he visits again in September. [Guardian, 11/5/01; Times of London, 8/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Saudi Arabia, Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden
          

May 2001: Hijackers Take Advantage of New, Anonymous Visa Express Procedure      Complete 911 Timeline

      
A portion of Salem Alhazmi's New Jersey identification card.
The US introduces the “Visa Express” program in Saudi Arabia, which allows any Saudi Arabian to obtain a visa through his or her travel agent instead of appearing at a consulate in person. An official later states, “The issuing officer has no idea whether the person applying for the visa is actually the person in the documents and application.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02; US News and World Report, 12/12/01] At the time, warnings of an attack against the US led by the Saudi Osama bin Laden are higher than they had ever been before— “off the charts” as one senator later puts it. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] A terrorism conference had recently concluded that Saudi Arabia was one of four top nationalities in al-Qaeda. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 5/19/02] Five hijackers—Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad—use Visa Express over the next month to enter the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Even 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will successfully get a US Visa through this program in July (using a false name but real photograph), despite a posted $2 million reward for his capture. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/04] Only three percent of Saudi visa applicants are turned down by US consular officers in fiscal 2000 and 2001. In contrast, about 25 percent of US visa seekers worldwide are rejected. Acceptance is even more difficult for applicants from countries alleged to have ties to terrorism such as Iraq or Iran. [Washington Post, 10/31/01] The widely criticized program is finally canceled in July 2002.
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, Osama bin Laden, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

August 2001: Persian Gulf Informant Gives Ex-CIA Agent Information About ‘Spectacular Terrorist Operation’      Complete 911 Timeline

       Former CIA agent Robert Baer is advising a prince in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military associate of this prince passes information to him about a “spectacular terrorist operation” that will take place shortly. He is given a computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list includes ten names that will be placed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant family had funded the USS Cole bombing on October 12, 2000, and that the Yemeni government is covering up information related to that bombing. At the military officer's request, he offers all this information to the Saudi Arabian government. However, an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his complicity in the 9/11 plot in August 2002). Baer also passes the information on to a senior CIA official and the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center, but there is no response or action. Portions of Baer's book describing his experience are blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. [Baer, 2002, pp 55-58; Financial Times, 1/12/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, USS Cole, Robert Baer
          

Early December 2001: Bush Officials Again Look for Saudi Cooperation      Complete 911 Timeline

       Bush administration officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to obtain Saudi government cooperation in the 9/11 investigation. The Saudis have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald runs a series of articles on the Saudis, citing an expert who says, “If there weren't all these other arrangements—arms deals and oil deals and consultancies—I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation.” Another expert states that “it's good old fashioned ‘I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.’ You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis. ... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil.” These deals are worth an incredible amount of money; one Washington Post reporter claims that prior to 1993, US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone. [PBS Frontline, 2/16/93; Boston Herald, 12/11/01 (B); Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, Bush administration
          

October 18, 2002: Saudi Acquaintance of bin Laden Given Immunity by Becoming ambassador      Complete 911 Timeline

       Saudi Arabia announces that Turki al-Faisal will be its next ambassador to Britain. Turki is a controversial figure because of his long-standing relationship to bin Laden. He has also been named in a lawsuit (see August 15, 2002) by 9/11 victims' relatives against Saudi Arabians for their support of al-Qaeda before 9/11. It is later noted that his ambassador position could give him diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. [New York Times, 12/30/02] Turki's predecessor as ambassador was recalled after it was revealed he had written poems praising suicide bombers. [Observer, 3/2/03 (C)] Articles reporting on his new posting suggest that Turki last met bin Laden in the early 1990s, before bin Laden became wanted by the US for his anti-American militancy. [Guardian, 10/19/02; Times of London, 10/18/02] However, these reports fail to mention other reported contacts with bin Laden, including a possible secret meeting in 1998 (see July 1998).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud
          

May 12, 2003: Saudi Arabia Bombing Changes Saudi Stance Toward al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       Saudi Arabia is attacked by three suicide bombings in the capital of Riyadh. At least 34 people are killed. The Saudi royal family had taken very little action against al-Qaeda prior to this. However, it appears to more aggressively combat al-Qaeda afterward. [Los Angeles Times, 6/20/04]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia
          

July 28, 2003: Bush Opposes Release of Full 9/11 Congressional Inquiry Report      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal after meeting Bush over the 9/11 report.
In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report, pressure builds to release most of the still-censored sections of the report, but on this day President Bush says he is against the idea. [New York Times, 7/29/03; Associated Press, 7/29/03 (B)] Through an obscure rule, the Senate could force the release of the material with a majority vote [USA Today, /5/29/03] , but apparently the number of votes in favor of this idea falls just short. MSNBC reports that “the decision to keep the passage secret ... created widespread suspicion among lawmakers that the administration was trying to shield itself and its Saudi allies from embarrassment. ... Three of the four leaders of the joint congressional investigation into the attacks have said they believed that much of the material on foreign financing was safe to publish but that the administration insisted on keeping it secret.” [MSNBC, 7/28/03] Senator Richard Shelby (R), one of the main authors of the report, states that “90, 95 percent of it would not compromise, in my judgment, anything in national security.” Bush ignores a reporter's question on Shelby's assessment. [Associated Press, 7/29/03 (B)] Even the Saudi government claims to be in favor of releasing the censored material so it can better respond to criticism. [MSNBC, 7/28/03] All the censored material remains censored; however, some details of the most controversial censored sections are leaked to the media.
People and organizations involved: Richard Shelby, George W. Bush, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Saudi Arabia
          

January 18, 2005: Some Defendants Are Dismissed in Saudi 9/11 Lawsuit      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ron Motley, lead lawyer in the Saudi-9/11 lawsuit.
A US judge dismisses the government of Saudi Arabia, three Saudi princes, and several Saudi financial institutions as defendants in the Ron Motley lawsuit that accuses them of supporting al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks (see August 15, 2002). The judge rules that only the US president, not the courts, has the authority to label a foreign nation as a terrorist supporter. He says the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient facts to overcome the kingdom of Saudi Arabia's immunity. Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan, Saudi ambassador to Britain Prince Turki al-Faisal, and Prince Mohammed Al-Faisal Al-Saud, among others, are dismissed from the lawsuit, but the lawsuit is allowed to proceed against many more defendants, including the Saudi Binladin Group, the multibillion dollar bin Laden family company. [Associated Press, 1/19/05]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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