During an interview with Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat published on June 18, Interior Minister Prince Naif announced that security officials are close to uncovering the sources of terror funding in the Kingdom.
The Saudi minister seems to finally connect the dots: “The terrorists would not have been able to act in this way without the financial support given to them” (sic) he said.
He added that security agencies have information which might point to the financiers of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. He stated: “Many things have become available to us but they need to be completed and this is what we are doing. In the end, we hope it will not be long before we inform the public of all these facts.”
We all hope that almost 7 years after the 9/11 attacks and 20 years after the foundation of Al Qaeda, the Saudi government finally acts to stop terror financing by Saudi charities and individuals. For years Western and U.S. officials identified Saudi Arabia as the “epicenter of terrorism financing”. But the Saudis failed to identify and punish the backers of the terrorists.
Recent news, such as the alleged participation of Wael Hamza Julaidan, an Al Qaeda founder and designated terrorist, in a public symposium of the Wamy organization as a “major speaker”, had raised additional concerns as to the willingness of the Saudis to fight terrorism financing. If history is of any guidance, Prince Naif’s statement may yet be another empty promise by the Saudis.