Six years after 9/11, the US Treasury Department admitted that much remains to be done in order to stop terrorism financing at its source, something we’ve been advocating for years.
“If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,” said Stuart Levey, the US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, during an interview to ABC News.
No one identified by the United States and the United Nations as a terror financier has been prosecuted by the Saudis, Levey said, adding that “When the evidence is clear that these individuals have funded terrorist organizations, and knowingly done so, then that should be prosecuted and treated as real terrorism because it is”.
The Saudi Foreign minister dismissed Levey’s comment by stating that “We hear every now and then that the kingdom does not do enough. But when we meet with officials, they thank us for our efforts to combat terrorism…They describe the programme we are implementing as one of the most effective on the international scene to confront terrorism, be it on the security or material fronts.”
Indeed, in August 2003, Saudi King Abdullah stated that “whoever harbors a terrorist is a terrorist like him, whoever sympathize with a terrorist is a terrorist like him and those who harbor and sympathize with terrorism will receive their just and deterrent punishment”.
But Saudi Arabia, labelled the “epicenter” of terrorism financing by a US official, has demonstrated a poor record in identifying, investigating and blocking assets, and cooperating with foreign investigations on terrorism financing. The latest summary on “Initiatives and actions taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism”, dated December 2006, reflects that in a three-year period the Saudi authorities have been unable to locate and freeze a single additional bank account since 2003.