Politics

Former Al-Qaeda Operative Says Saudi Arabia Funded Al-Qaeda

| by Edward Arnold

Zacarias Moussaoui, a former Al-Qaeda operative, has unveiled new testimony that claims Saudi Arabia officials were major donors to the terrorist network in the late 1990s.

Moussaoui, who has been in prison for more than 13 years, made a sworn statement last October as part of a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia brought by the families of 9/11 victims. 

Moussaoui said that he was directed by Osama bin Laden to record any donations of money given to Al-Qaeda in a digital database on his computer, entering the name of each donor and the amount of money given.

The New York Times reported that many members of the Saudi Royal family were included in the list, such as Prince Turki a-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence director; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, a Saudi ambassador to the U.S.; Prince al-Waleed bun Talal, a Saudi billionaire; and many other clerics.

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Moussaoui's credibility, however, has been in question. In court, a psychologist diagnosed him with a mental illness in a failed attempt to dismiss his terrorism charges. In 2006, he was sentenced to life in prison.

The 9/11 Commission's report, released in 2004, found no evidence of a connection between Saudi officials and Al-Qaeda.

"It does not appear that any government other than the Taliban financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11, although some governments may have contained al Qaeda sympathizers who turned a blind eye to al Qaeda's fund-raising activities," the report wrote. "Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization."

However, Moussaoui's testimony did not end with the Saudi family. He said he helped build a bomb for a planned truck-bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in London. He also says he and an official at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C. discussed the possibility of shooting down Air Force One.

“I was supposed to go to Washington ” to “find a location where it may be suitable to launch a Stinger attack and then, after, be able to escape,” Moussaoui said.

The court case against Saudi Arabia will continue on. Initially filed in 2002 and then dismissed in 2005, an appellate court reversed itself allowing for reinstatement. Saudi Arabia has appealed, but lawyers for the families of 9/11 victims hope that Moussaoui's testimony can help their case against Saudi Arabia. 

Sources: The New York Times, CNN / Photo Credit: The Daily Star