Put Saudi Arabia on the Terrorism List

The revelation that a “charitable contribution” from the wife of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States ended up in the pockets of two 9/11 terrorists is bringing overdue scrutiny to the Saudis’ involvement in terrorism. The truth is that the Saudi regime is among the most despicable on earth, and its clear role in promoting terrorism, radical Islam, and intolerance should put the Saudi monarchy near the top of the list of targets for regime change.

Whether Princess Haifa al-Faisal intentionally helped the hijackers is not critical to the case against the Saudis. Remember earlier this year when the government had a national terrorthon on Saudi TV to raise money for Palestinian terrorists? The largest contributors were members of the royal family. Beyond that, the Saudis provide regular subsidies to families of “martyrs,” which are far beyond the amounts Palestinians could earn working, creating greater incentives for the perpetuation of terror in the territories.

The Saudis are also major funders of extremist Islam, which they help propagate through schools throughout the world. A Saudi supported school in Virginia, for example, teaches that Israel does not exist and that on the Day of Judgement, Muslims will find the Jews hiding behind trees and kill them.

And it is not only through parochial schools that they exert their nefarious influence in the United States. The Saudis have financed Middle East studies centers at universities around the country that are bastions of anti-Israel “scholarship” and apologetics for Arab extremism. Experts who frequently appear on the cable news shows to talk about the Middle East are often little more than flacks for the Saudis who funded their academic positions.

The Saudis may be the most anti-Semitic people on earth. The latest outrage from a member of the government came from the Interior Minister, who recently suggested the Jews were behind Sept. 11. Earlier this year a Saudi newspaper published a blood libel suggesting that Jews use the blood of gentiles to make hamentaschen on Purim. King Fahd himself made a similar remark several years ago. Fahd also ranted about Jewish conspiracies in meetings with American Jews such as Henry Kissinger.

Saudi intolerance goes far beyond anti-Semitism. The practice of any religion other than Islam is not permitted in the kingdom. A number of Christians were deported in 2000 because they practiced “apostasy” in too public a manner, and even Shia Muslims are prohibited from practicing their faith in public.

In Saudi Arabia, restrictions against women are among the most extreme in the Arab world. Saudi women may not marry non-Saudis without government permission (which is rarely given); are forbidden to drive motor vehicles or bicycles; may not use public facilities when men are present; and are forced to sit in the backs of public buses, segregated from men. Women must cover their entire body and face in public, and those who do not are subject to physical harassment from the Saudi religious police. During a visit to the United States by Crown Prince Abdullah, the prince’s aides requested that no female air traffic controllers be allowed to control his flight into Texas to meet President Bush. They also requested that no women be allowed on the airport tarmac with the jet.

Shockingly, our own government has been complicit in the discrimination of American women by the Saudis. In 2001, the U.S. Air Force's highest ranking female fighter pilot sued the U.S. government to overturn a Pentagon policy that forced her to sit in the back of cars, to wear the head-to-toe abaya worn by Saudi women, and to accept discriminatory treatment that violated her religious freedom.

Freedom of speech and of the press are virtually nonexistent, and criticizing Islam or the Royal family is illegal, and can result in prolonged imprisonment without trial. Television, radio, internet and literature are all heavily censored.

The Saudis also have allowed American children to be kidnapped and held by a noncustodial parent in Saudi Arabia. According to the State Department, the Saudis have never returned a single one of these children.

On top of all this, the Saudi monarchy, whose very survival depends on U.S. military backing, has continually undermined American interests. They have not cooperated in investigations of terrorist attacks against Americans, done little to cut off funding to terrorists, and now are obstructing our efforts to topple Saddam Hussein. At the UN, they oppose our positions most of the time, and, at other forums, particularly in the Arab world, act to undermine our interests.

While the Saudis reaped a PR windfall with Crown Prince Abdullah’s Middle East peace plan earlier this year, the reality was that the plan offered nothing new, and no one asked the seminal question: Why are the Saudis at war with Israel in the first place? The Saudis have consistently used their influence to undermine efforts to negotiate an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.

We have only one reason to give a fig about Saudi Arabia, and we all know what that is. The reality is we don’t need to curry favor with them. They have to sell their oil to keep their princes in Ferraris and hidden booze, and to insure they have enough money to hand out to the masses to buy their complacency.

The time may come when we should seize the oil fields and take what we need and ignore the Saudi government altogether. In the meantime, the time is long past for tolerating the Saudis’ rejection of our values and opposition to our interests.