What Did The Saudis Know? And When Did They Know It?
Vol: 14 Issue: 25 Monday, November 25, 2002
Now that Election 2002 has finally put Election 2000 behind us, the question is being raised among members of the Senate that should have been asked long ago. Instead, it was perverted by the partisan process into rhetorical nonsense.
But at long last, Senator Joe Leiberman asked the question the way it should have been asked all along. “What do the SAUDIS know and when did they know it?”
A year ago, political partisans were asking that question of Bush. Now that the election is over, the politicians are stepping out from their political bomb shelters to grab some press on an issue of substance, for a change.
The Democrats caught their campaign issue, but they got it too late to do them any good in 2002. Senator Lieberman’s query, “What do the Saudis know and when did they know it?” was followed by the observation that, “The F.B.I. and maybe other parts of our government have seemed to want to almost defend the Saudis, or not be as aggressive as they should be about the Saudis.”
Had that been the issue raised by the Democrats when it first became obvious that the Saudis were playing both sides against the middle, there might be a Democrat majority in both Houses today.
Lieberman admitted that, “President Bush has taken a lot of abuse in the last two years because of the connections of this administration with Saudi Arabia.” he said. But then he counter-punched, I think it’s time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11 — you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.”
Because that is an issue that has yet to be adequately addressed by the White House, which continues, inexplicably, to run interference for the House of Saud, despite the fact the Saudis appear to be running interference for the terrorists.
Lieberman’s remarks on the CBS News program “Face the Nation” followed disclosures that the F.B.I. had investigated financial contributions from the wife of the Saudi ambassador in Washington to the family of a Saudi man in San Diego who had befriended two men who were among the Sept. 11 hijackers.
The Saudi man in San Diego, Osama Bassnan, and a Saudi friend of his in the city, Omar al-Bayoumi, were investigated by the F.B.I. after the attacks because they were acquaintances of Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhazmi, who were among the 15 Saudis in the group of 19 hijackers.
Bassnan and Bayoumi helped Midhar and Alhazmi find housing in San Diego, assisted them with opening bank accounts, provided them with small amounts of cash, and introduced them to other Saudis in Southern California, officials said.
Saudi officials have said the payments from Princess Haifa began about four years ago and were initially intended to help pay for the medical needs of Bassnan’s ailing Jordanian wife. They said such gifts were typical of Princess Haifa’s generosity in aiding Saudis and others in distress.
The princess, the daughter of the late King Faisal, said ‘she was alarmed by news reports suggesting that she had indirectly aided the hijackers’.
“I heard U.S. lawmakers in the American media today say that money that I have donated to a needy Saudi family living in the United States was transferred to two Saudi 9/11 terrorists.”
“My father, King Faisal, was killed in a terrorist act in 1975,” she said. “I find accusations that I contributed funds to terrorists outrageous and completely irresponsible.” She added, “This is the time for people to come together to combat the scourge of terrorism so that others will not suffer the loss of loved ones.”
‘Outrageous and irresponsible’ — my foot. According to a report in Newsweek, Bassnan wasn t just some indigent Saudi, but had connections with Saudi intelligence. When Crown Prince Abdullah visited President Bush in April, his entourage stopped in Houston. Bassnan was also in Houston, where he met with “a high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters.”
Basnan was convicted of visa fraud in August and was ordered to be deported. As of the time of this writing, he still hasn’t left the US.
The other indigent Saudi to receive monthly checks from Princess Haifa, al Bayoumi, was believed by some local Muslims to be working for Saudi intelligence. He also claimed to be studying at San Diego university but it has no records of him.
The Saudis have stonewalled every investigation of every terror act involving Saudi citizens since the Khobar Towers attack. (That’s a lot of investigations for a friendly ally to stonewall)
As Senator Mitch McConnell pointed out on Fox News Sunday, “The Saudis are on all sides of every issue.” Senator Charles Schumer noted, “it seems every time the Saudis are involved, we stop,” while Senator Richard Shelby said on “Meet The Press” that “they’ve got a lot of answering to do.”
Shelby said, “I would like for them to be our ally, but you can’t have it both ways . .”You can’t finance terrorists, you can’t finance charities that you have reason to believe that will finance terrorism around the world and even abet it, and say, ‘Oh, we’re great friends of the United States.'”
“The list goes on and on of Saudi failures, and their central role that they have played in one way or another in this rise of Islamic fundamentalism all over the world,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, on ABC’s “This Week.”
Princess Haifa says she didn t know that she was funneling money to terrorists. Logic says that is probably true. If she had, she d have been a lot more careful about how she did it.
But it isn t about a Saudi princess it s about Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda and what the Saudis knew and when they knew it .
The answer to that question is not something the administration is eager to uncover.
Because, as Senator Lieberman pointed out, the White House has made its position very clear.
You re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.