Sunday, December 5, 2010

WikiLeaks Reveals Millions of Dollars Flowing to Extremists Worldwide: President Obama 'Less Critical' of Terror Financing Than Predecessor — UPDATED

The hits keep coming, especially for progressives. And it's not the end game WikiLeaks' neo-communist champions were looking for. According to the New York Times, State Department cables reveal high-level concern over the flow of money to terrorist organizations worldwide, with funding going though some of our most important allies in the Persian Gulf and larger Middle East. And especially interesting is how the cables reveal that President Obama has been less concerned about cracking down on terror financing than was President George W. Bush. The news comes on the heels of the Ahmed Ghailani verdict last month. From civilian trials for enemy combatants to footsie financing for global jihad, the Obama administration continues to weaken U.S. national security and put more and more American lives at risk.

See, "
Cables Suggest Mideast Resists U.S. on Cutting Terrorists’ Cash" (via Memeorandum):
WASHINGTON — Nine years after the United States vowed to shut down the money pipeline that finances terrorism, senior Obama administration officials say they believe that many millions of dollars are flowing largely unimpeded to extremist groups worldwide, and they have grown frustrated by frequent resistance from allies in the Middle East, according to secret diplomatic dispatches.

The government cables, sent by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and senior State Department officials, catalog a long list of methods that American officials suspect terrorist financiers are using, from a brazen armed bank robbery in Yemen last year to kidnappings for ransom, drug proceeds in Afghanistan and annual religious pilgrimages to Mecca, where millions of riyals or other forms of currency change hands.

While American officials in their public statements have been relatively upbeat about their progress in disrupting terrorist financing, the internal State Department cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations, offer a more pessimistic account, with blunt assessments of the threats to the United States from money flowing to militants affiliated with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups.

A classified memo sent by Mrs. Clinton last December made it clear that residents of Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, all allies of the United States, are the chief financial supporters of many extremist activities. “It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority,” the cable said, concluding that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

The dispatch and others offered similarly grim views about the United Arab Emirates (“a strategic gap” that terrorists can exploit), Qatar (“the worst in the region” on counterterrorism) and Kuwait (“a key transit point”). The cable stressed the need to “generate the political will necessary” to block money to terrorist networks — groups that she said were “threatening stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan and targeting coalition soldiers.”

While President George W. Bush frequently vowed to cut off financing for militants and pledged to make financiers as culpable as terrorists who carried out plots, President Obama has been far less vocal on the issue publicly as he has sought to adopt a more conciliatory tone with Arab nations. But his administration has used many of the same covert diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement tools as his predecessor and set up a special task force in the summer of 2009 to deal with the growing problem.

While federal officials can point to some successes — prosecutions, seizures of money and tightened money-laundering regulations in foreign countries — the results have often been frustrating, the cables show. As the United States has pushed for more aggressive crackdowns on suspected supporters of terrorism, foreign leaders have pushed back. In private meetings, they have accused American officials of heavy-handedness and of presenting thin evidence of wrongdoing by Arab charities or individuals, according to numerous State Department cables.
Were it not for bureaucratic momentum, the Obama administration would be much less vigilant against the terror finance network than it is. And of course, the same president who campaigned on global conciliation and talkin' sweet to terrorists, who offered heartfelt apologies around the world through 2009, and whose administration refused to fight a "War on Terror" in favor of managing "Overseas Contingency Operations," is again overwhelmed in the battle against global jihad. Recall that Obama told the Washington Post's Bob Woodward that the U.S. would be able to absorb another 3,000 dead in new terror attack on the scale of the 9/11 catastrophe. Hey, perhaps all our enemies need is a little more money. This is the administration's "new approach to terrorism."

Meanwhile, the conciliatory soft-on-terror parade continues with folks like Professor Daniel Drezner suggesting perhaps "Al Qaeda is no longer in the first tier of national security threats?" Drezner draws on Peter Bergen, "Bin Laden’s Lonely Crusade." Of course, it's not really about Bin Laden any more, but the global network of follow-on organizations who clearly have support in capitals across the Persian Gulf. But hey, let's defer to the experts. We need to talk to our enemies, and give them cash.


UPDATE: A reader suggests by e-mail that the Times article, especially the last paragraph of the passage quoted above, contradicts my thesis at the post. So to reiterate: I'm stressing the president's disposition toward appeasement and public conciliation. Certainly State Department operatives, as is clear at the Times, have pressed Persian Gulf nations for greater cooperation, but the executive sets the tone, and I've thoroughly documented here the administration's shift to a softer, law enforcement fight against jihad. And further, others have seen administration failures in the WikiLeaks dump. Perhaps it's realpolitik, but the administration has failed to more effectively push against terror financing regimes, and this is to a notable extent apparent during the last two years. See, "WikiLeaks - Saudi Arabia: Their Oil is Thicker Than Our Blood":

In January 2010, the Saudi government refused to assist the U.S. request for information in a terror financing case involving a major Saudi bank. The Riyadh based Al Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the third largest commercial bank in Saudi Arabia, refused to comply with a subpoena issued in the terror financing trial of Dr. Peter Seda, a U.S. operative of the Saudi based, U.S. designated, and allegedly defunct charity al Haramain Foundation. The evidence provided by the prosecution showed the Saudi al Rajhi Bank transferred $151,000 to the Chechen mujahedeen. Still, The Saudis who in 2007 ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, refused to cooperate.

The May 31, 2010 edition of The Sunday Times revealed that the Afghan financial intelligence unit, FinTraca, reported that since 2006, at least $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia were smuggled into Afghanistan, headed most probably to the Taliban. The money entered Afghanistan through Pakistani tribal area, especially through North Waziristan, known as “al-Qaeda’s heartland.” One wonders how much of this money was used to buy weapons that killed 1,268 American soldiers and maimed thousands more in Afghanistan.

Also in May 2010, leaked Saudi intelligence document showing continued Saudi governmental support for al Qaeda in the form of cash and weapons, were published by Buratha News Service, an independent news source in Iraq.

On November 15, 2010, the GAO released its 2009 report on Saudi efforts to stop terror financing. It concluded that the “U.S. and Saudi officials report progress on countering terrorism and its financing within Saudi Arabia, but noted challenges, particularly in preventing alleged funding for terrorism and violent extremism outside of Saudi Arabia. (Emphasis added). Moreover, there are no restrictions on foreign branches of Saudi-based charities from funding terrorist groups. In addition, cash in large quantities to fund terrorism, is being smuggled out of the country via couriers.

Despite all the evidence of the danger posed by the Wahhabist message, the U.S. has continued its preferential treatment of the Kingdom, while Saudi funds continue flowing to Sunni radical groups, foreign charities, mosques, Islamic centers, and academic institutions.

It is time the U.S. took serious measures to protect Americans at home and abroad from the ill effects of Saudi funding to spread global Wahhabi radicalizations.