Wikileaks on Global Terrorism – Saudi main sponsor, Kuwait the ‘Transit Point’ and UAE a safe haven

published on December 6, 2010

Saudi Arabia and Gulf states major sources of terror funding


Saudi Arabia and oil-rich Gulf States continue to be major sources of funding for radical Islamist terror groups like al Qaeda and LeT and militant groups are suspected to be receiving hefty donations during the annual pilgrimage of Haj, leaked US documents have said.

“Private donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”, a leaked memo from US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in December 2009 reads.

While acknowledging that Saudi Arabia has made “crucial progress” in aggressively trying to close the terrorist funding tap, the document say that while Riyadh is serious about threat from terrorism to the Kingdom, “it is a challenge to persuade Saudi officials to tackle terror funding outflow from its soil”.

Much of the terror funding outflows are from the private donors, according to the leaked cables with most of the Gulf States cracking down on terrorist sympathisers, but not running foul of Islamic charitable institutions, so as not to be seen as American stooges before their skeptical public.

US officials have complained that wealthy individuals in the Saudi Kingdom and Gulf States are making direct donations during the Haj or in the religious month of Ramzan and abundant informal money transfers done through hawala networks.

Though the US officials acknowledge that Saudi Arabia is now taking concrete steps to combat terror financing emanating from its soil, the Clinton cables draw a different picture of the situation in other Gulf States like Kuwait, Qatar and UAE.

The leaks said, Kuwait like Saudi is taking action against terror outfits that threaten the country, but “is less inclined to take action against financiers and facilitators based in the country plotting attacks outside.

Kuwait is described in the leaked cables as a “key transit point” for terror fundings as it lacks regulatory framework needed to monitor such activities.

A still grimmer picture is painted of the UAE, which the US cables say is a growing global financial centre, but has weak regulatory mechanism which makes it vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers and facilitation networks.

UAE has been identified as also a safe haven for corrupt Afghani officials looking to hide funds in the banks in the country.


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