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Scoping Out the Saudis: Are They With Us or Against Us?
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was practically stunned at the hostile reception he received during a recent visit to London. It seems our British friends are much more attuned than we to the nefarious role that the Saudis continue to play in financing and fomenting terror.
The nation that is best described as the epicenter for terror continues to fly under the radar screen, at least in America.
Saudi Arabia has deftly played its oil trump card, while putting on its payroll an army of former U.S. diplomats who shamelessly patrol the corridors of power trying to convince us that the king is our most reliable ally in the war on terror.
Rendered virtually irrelevant is a nasty bill of particulars:
· 15 of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001 mass murderers were products of the kingdom and funded with Saudi money;
· More than half of the foreign terrorists attacking and killing our troops in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia;
· Saudi textbooks still preach anti-West and anti-Semitic hatred, trumpeting as gospel the blasphemous "Protocols of the Elders of Zion";
· The Saudis finance mosques and schools the world over that bellow deadly extremist ideology;
· U.S. law-enforcement officials have publicly aired their frustration at the continued financing of terrorist groups, despite repeated requests to the Saudis to put the enablers out of business;
· The Saudis' failure to prosecute sponsors and benefactors of terrorism.
While the Bush administration will in no way hold Saudi feet to the fire, some on Capitol Hill are fed up. Enter U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who have introduced the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2007 in their respective chambers.
The legislation demands that Saudi Arabia close any entity engaged in funding or facilitating terror, and to cooperate with American efforts. Failure to do so will trigger a series of sanctions, including restrictions on arms sales.
The Saudi initiative is one of the most important pieces of legislation pending on the Hill. It should be high not only on the pro-Israel agenda, but on America's national security agenda as well. You can even make a case that it should be the legislative centerpiece of the war on terror.
The White House and State Department, of course, will never endorse this initiative, trotting out the disingenuous mantra that the Saudis are needed in our fight against the bad guys. Never mind that the kingdom and their U.S. hired guns assure us that the Saudis will stand shoulder to shoulder with us -- the empirical evidence proves the contrary.
While the Saudis talk a good game, it would be the height of naivété to expect that they'll undertake any of the serious measures we've been urging for years.
Odds are the legislation will die on the vine, never making it out of committee. Similar legislation has gone nowhere, even when there was the hardest of evidence proving that the Saudi government was paying the families of suicide murderers and directly supporting Hamas.
One reason for the past failure was the lack of a concerted, unified push by the legendary pro-Israel lobby. The silence sent a clear message to Congress: This was not a matter of importance to the Jewish community.
This time, only the Zionist Organization of America has endorsed and will lobby for the Saudi accountability measure. Unfortunately, it probably will be virtually alone in this fight.
Some battles must be fought because it is simply the right thing to do. Taking the Saudis to task for being the hub of terrorism is one of those instances. Jewish organizations would do well to remember that it was a losing battle -- over the sale of AWACS to the Saudis 25 years ago -- that for all practical purposes put it on the map.
Unless and until sinister activities engaged in, tolerated and effectively endorsed by Saudi Arabia are challenged head on, the war on terror is not much more than an exercise of putting our heads in the sand.
The question is whether the pro-Israel community has the guts to take on this vital effort to make the Saudis see the light. Regrettably, if past is prologue, don't bet on it.
Neal Sher is a former director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations.