My mother begins a slow, thorny grieving. Time wrinkles around her periodically heaving body. In May, she decides we will make umrah, pilgrimage, in my grandmother’s memory. My immediate family doesn’t do field trips. I can’t remember the last time that we, all seven strong, went anywhere together—we are always too busy or too dispersed. By month’s end, we are flying to Saudi Arabia for the first time in fifteen years.
Bangladesh Attack Is New Evidence That ISIS Has Shifted Its Focus Beyond the Mideast [The New York Times] Friday night’s assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic district of Dhaka, in which at least 20 hostages and two police officers were killed, marks a scaling up of ambition and capacity for Bangladesh’s Islamist militancy, which has until now carried out pinpoint assassinations, mostly of critics of Islam and members of religious minorities. [more inside]
During the 1980s and ’90s, the historic alliance between the wealthy monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the country’s powerful clerics emerged as the major financier of international jihad, channeling tens of millions of dollars to Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and elsewhere. Among the project’s major patrons was Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who last month became Saudi Arabia’s king. [more inside]
...the reality of ISIS and what this group seeks is opaque to the public, and to policymakers not clued into the private salons where the details of secrets can be discussed. Even among those policymakers, the compartmentalized national security establishment means that no one really grasps the whole picture. The attempt to get the US into a war in Syria a year ago was similarly opaque. The public cannot make well-informed decisions about national security choices because information critical to such choices is withheld from them. It is withheld from them at the source, through the classification-censorship process, then by obfuscations in the salons and think tanks of DC and New York, and then finally through the bottleneck of the mass media itself.The Solution to ISIS Is the First Amendment by Matt Stoler [more inside]
For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats. Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.
Mohammed el Gorani, the youngest prisoner held at Guantánamo, has written a memoir of his time there, the lead up to his imprisonment, and subsequent release years later.
Following a months-long investigation, the Department of Justice has announced the existence of a well-funded plot "conceived, sponsored and directed" by "high-ranking members of the Iranian government" to assassinate Saudi Arabian ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir on U.S. soil in conjunction with informants in Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas. The "Hollywood" plot, revealed in an afternoon press conference and described in a detailed 21-page complaint [PDF], is alleged to have involved an attack on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. One suspect, naturalized American citizen Arbab Arbabsiar, has been arrested, while co-conspirator and Quds Force member Gholam Shakuri remains at large. Iranian officials were quick to label the charges a "fabrication" intended to distract from America's economic troubles.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
Abu Ali guilty of terror plot. A Virginia jury has found Ahmed Omar Abu Ali guilty of terrorism related crimes. The prosecution charged he provided material support to Al Qaeda (pdf). His defenders claim his confession while in Saudi custody was obtained through torture. Does the goal of preventing terrorism justify relying on the Saudi's questionable interrogation methods?
Senators Charles Schumer and Susan Collins urge stronger action on Saudi Arabia | "Sen. Schumer said, It is a massive contradiction that a country we call an ally could be both so regressive in their own country and so brazen in its propagation of anti-American, anti-women, anti-Semitic books, publications, and practices. American security is undermined as the Saudi government exports these hateful commodities to millions beyond its borders, planting the seeds for new generations of terrorists and totalitarian Wahhabi leaders." In the recent past, Schumer has demanded answers on the Islamic Saudi Academy in Arlington, VA—where Omar Abu Ali graduated as 1999 valedictorian—and on the growing Wahhabi influence in the U.S.
Factfilter: Sen. Bob Graham's new book shows coverup.on Saudi's behalf Bush had concluded that ''a nation-state that had aided the terrorists should not be held publicly to account,'' Graham wrote. "It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety.'' And there's stuff about Iraq, too. After wearing 9/11 like a tiara during the convention, will the facts finally be aired?
The TRILLIAN dollar question. Will the Saudi Royal family recieve diplomatic immunity for helping finance Osama and Al Qaeda all these years? A lawsuit filed by 9/11 victims last year which demands reparations from the Saudis will come to a close next week. Background story here: Evidently there's precedent for pay-out.
The final report of the joint Congressional committee investigating the Sept. 11 attacks was released yesterday, criticizing the intelligence agencies for their failure to prevent the attacks. Senator Shelby also released a minority report, calling for senior officials to be held accountable. But perhaps more provocative is what isn't in the reports: classified information about Saudi Arabian links to U.S.-based terrorists which may not be declassified until the archives are opened in 30 years. [More inside]
President Bush is pressuring Iraq because he says that they support terror (there is some evidence of that). So what about Saudi Arabia? "Sources familiar with the evidence say the payments—amounting to about $3,500 a month—came from an account at Washington’s Riggs Bank in the name of Princess Haifa Al-Faisal, the wife of Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and the daughter of the late Saudi King Faisal." And why were CIA/FBI investigations of the Saudi connection reigned in? When Bush met that very same Prince Bandar in August, somehow the issue never came up. Don't want to step on Dad's toes, you know.
Terrorist Financing is a new report by the Council on Foreign Relations on al Qaeda's financial network. It claims that the Bush administration "appears to have made a policy decision not to use the full power of U.S. influence and legal authorities to pressure or compel other governments to combat terrorist financing more effectively." The most important source of al Qaeda's funds are charities and wealthy individuals from Saudi Arabia. But while the Bush administration may be unwilling to confront the Saudis directly, they are seeking to have their financial assets in Europe frozen.
Hamas accepts Saudi peace plan:
"There has been generation after generation (of war). Now there is a generation who needs to live in peace, and not worry about their safety," said [Hamas executive Ismail Abu] Shanab. "So it is a generation that wants to practice living in peace and postpone historical issues. We speak of historical Palestine, and practical reality."Since their official position is that "Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason" (Hamas Charter, Article 32), this is a dramatic change in policy indeed. I'm gobsmacked; this is utterly unbelievable, yet apparently real. And genuinely hopeful IMHO. What do you think?
Robert Young Pelton, At first the media complains because they're not getting enough information, they're not being allowed to cover the war. Then when they get to know everything, after the 120-day window, nobody cares anymore. Because once they start spelling it out and saying, "Wait a second, these guys are all from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Why aren't we fighting a war in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Egypt? Why are they our allies?" And then those are the tough questions that never really get asked, because the public doesn't really care at that point. Is disbelieving major news organization reports a neccessity to get the real stories?
Neil Bush is in Saudi Arabia "The US media campaign against the interests of Arabs and Muslims and the American public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be influenced through a sustained lobbying and PR effort," Bush, chairman and chief executive officer of Ignite! Inc., said in his keynote address on the concluding day of the three-day Jeddah Economic Forum at Hilton Hotel here. Does this seem appropriate? Are'nt the Saudis' cranking out terrorists at a pretty good clip?