Since the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., the Saudi government seems to be afflicted with “terrorism amnesia”. The Saudis continue to claim that Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden and their Saudi support networks were all fabricated outside the kingdom aimed against the Kingdom.
On September 20, 2006, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif stated that “Bin Laden (…) is not a Saudi”.
The Saudi reaction to the designation of several offices and a director of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) by the U.S. Treasury Department followed the same trend in the same stunning statement:
“The International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) is not a Saudi organization; it is a nongovernmental, multinational organization based in the Kingdom with offices throughout the world. As an international non-governmental organization, the IIRO requires oversight from multinational enforcement entities.”
Despite the Saudi claim, the IIRO is not a UFO, an Unknown Foreign Organization. The IIRO was registered in 1978 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as publicized on its current and former websites. The IIRO has its registered headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as an affiliate of the Muslim World League (MWL), also registered in Saudi Arabia in 1962. The MWL Journal itself claimed that “The Kingdom has formed special organizations, such as the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO)”.
Indeed, most recently, during the legal proceedings of the 9/11 lawsuits in the U.S. where the IIRO is a defendant, the Saudis tried to extract the organization claiming it is a “governmental body”.
Despite repeated Saudi attempts to dilute their responsibility, the Kingdom’s failure to regulate its own charities is well reflected in the U.S. designation, which states that Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil (Executive Director of the IIRO Eastern Province branch office in Saudi Arabia) “provided donor funds directly to al Qaida and is identified as a major fundraiser for the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)”. The designation further alleges that “the Indonesian and Philippines branches of IIRO have received support from IIRO Eastern Province Branch, which in turn is controlled by Al-Mujil”.
In an official publication released in August 2006, the Saudi government proves how little they do to stop terrorism. While U.S. Treasury officials have labeled the Kingdom as the “epicenter” of terrorism financing, in 5 years since the 9/11 attacks, it froze “more than 40 bank accounts” – for over 1,600 accounts frozen worldwide- (in 2003 this country already stated to have frozen 41 bank accounts belonging to 7 individuals for a total of $5,697,400, or less than 4% of the total amount of terrorist-related funds frozen worldwide). However, international investigations uncovered thousands of terrorist-related bank accounts all leading to the Kingdom. The Saudis provide no explanation to this wide discrepancy.
The Saudi government continues to deny that for decades now several of its institutions, agents, scholars and businesses promoted, sponsored and supported Islamic terrorism. Indeed the former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar, stated in 2001 that “we have never worried about the effect of these organizations on our country”. And as long as they get away with it, we have a lot to worry about.