[Congressional Record: February 8, 2007 (Senate)]
[Page S1732-S1733]                        


  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, as a member of the Senate Select Committee 
on Intelligence, I wish to talk a bit this morning about the all-
important war against terrorism and particularly the sources of funding 
that allow the terrorists to obtain the resources with which they 
conduct this war.
  It is impossible to talk about funding terrorism without mentioning 
Saudi Arabia. With its extraordinary oil wealth, the Saudis have a 
tremendous economy which is home to many strains of extremist Islamist 
thought. Over the years, the combination of wealth and extremism has 
proved to be a volatile combination.
  A few years ago, a telethon in Saudi Arabia raised more than $100 
million for the families of ``Palestinian martyrs,'' a group which 
reportedly included suicide bombers. According to public news reports, 
Saudi Arabia's ruler, King Fahd, ordered the fundraising drive as a way 
to channel public anger in the kingdom against the United States and 
  Just because the Saudis are no longer holding telethons for 
terrorists does not mean that they aren't providing substantial funding 
for terrorism in other ways.
  A number of Government agencies have noted that Saudi Arabia is a 
source of funding for hate-filled extremist ideologies, but Saudi-based 
support for terrorism does not stop there. In fact, it may be a part, a 
small part of what we face in this war against terrorism. According to 
the State Department, Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been 
a major source of funding and support, not just for groups that preach 
radical ideologies but for actual terrorist organizations.
  I wish to cite now some specific examples. An examination of the 
public record reveals clear connections with some of the world's most 
infamous organizations, such as al-Qaida. The staff of the 9/11 
Commission, for example, noted that the intelligence community 
identified Saudi Arabia as the ``primary source of money for al-Qaida 
both before and after the September 11th attacks.'' They went on to say 
``fundraisers and facilitators throughout Saudi Arabia and the Gulf 
raised money for al-Qaida from witting and unwitting donors and 
divert[ed] funds from Islamic charities and mosques.''
  The Iraq Study Group, to look at another effort to examine these 
issues, stated that ``Funding for the Sunni insurgency in Iraq comes 
from private donors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states,'' and Iraqi 
officials have reportedly asked the Saudi Government to do more to 
limit the support that these donors provide to Iraqi insurgents.
  The State Department has reported that private Saudi donors are a 
primary source of funding for Hamas.
  Early last year, Ambassador Crumpton, the State Department's 
coordinator for counterterrorism, told a House subcommittee that the 
Saudi Government, ``had made a bit of progress in reducing the flow of 
funds from Saudi Arabia to Hamas and other Palestinian rejection 
groups, but conceded that the money funding these terrorists is still 
going on.''
  Other governments have gone even further in their statements with 
respect to the funding of terrorism. In the fall of 2005, Israeli 
officials announced they arrested an individual, who they claimed was 
acting as a courier between Hamas members in the Palestinian 
territories and Hamas members in Saudi Arabia. No other governments 
have confirmed this, but if it is correct, it certainly raises a host 
of troubling questions. Clearly, one can see that the threat posed by 
these donors goes beyond the spread of religious intolerance and 
extremely dogmatic forms of Islam. Rather, money is flowing from Saudi 
Arabia to support insurgent groups in Iraq; money is flowing from Saudi 
Arabia to Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas; money is flowing 
from Saudi Arabia to al-Qaida.
  Under Secretary of the Treasury Stewart Levey summed up this 
situation pretty clearly. He said:

       Is money leaving Saudi Arabia to fund terrorism abroad? 
     Yes. Undoubtedly some of that money is going to Iraq, it's 
     going to Southeast Asia, and it's going to other places where 
     there are terrorists. There is money leaving Saudi Arabia.

  I think it is also appropriate to put this in the context of what it 
means to folks this Pennsylvania and Oregon and everywhere else, and in 
effect what happens when you pull up at a gas station in Pennsylvania 
and Oregon is you are paying a terror tax. A portion of what you pay 
for gasoline in Pennsylvania or Oregon or elsewhere, in effect, finds 
its way eventually to the Government of Saudi Arabia, and then we see 
that the Saudis end up back-dooring it to various kinds of terrorist 
  The Government Accountability Office describes this problem very 
succinctly, stating it this way:

       Saudi Arabia's multibillion-dollar petroleum industry, 
     although largely owned by the government, has fostered the 
     creation of large private fortunes, enabling many wealthy 
     Saudis to sponsor charities and educational foundations whose 
     operations extend to many countries. Government and other 
     expert reports have linked some Saudi donations to the global 
     propagation of religious intolerance, hatred of Western 
     values, and support to terrorist activities. So that is what 
     we are talking about when we talk about this terror tax 
     which literally is paid every time an American pulls up in 
     Pennsylvania, Oregon, or anywhere else and fills their 
     tank with gasoline.

  The former Director of Central Intelligence, James Woolsey, summed it 
up pretty well just recently. He said:

       We live in a world where Saudi Arabia earns about $160 
     billion from exporting oil and a big share of that, several 
     billion dollars, goes to the Wahabbi sect for their worldwide 
     work, which is to set up madrassas in Pakistan and other 
     places. And the ideology that is taught in those madrassas is 
     for all practical purposes the same as al-Qaida's.

  As the GAO report notes, this problem appears to go beyond the 
funding of an ``al-Qaida ideology''--it appears to be funding terrorist 
  So let me now turn for a few minutes to the question of the Saudi 
Government's role in all of this. When you look at all the evidence, it 
is pretty clear there is a serious problem, and the question is, What 
has the Saudi Arabian Government been doing about all of this? Are they 
part of the problem? Are they doing anything to address it?
  Let me review the history. First, there appears to be no question 
that in the first couple of years after the 9/11 attacks, Saudi Arabia 
was directly involved in supporting terrorism. The telethon that raised 
money for families of suicide bombers was sponsored by the Saudi King. 
In many ways, the Saudis' position changed when terrorism hit home in 
the aftermath of the horrible terrorist bombings that

[[Page S1733]]

hit Riyadh in mid-2003. Since then, there seems to be broad agreement 
throughout the U.S. Government that the Saudi Government's 
counterterrorism efforts have improved.
  It is not at all clear that the Saudi Government is going far enough 
to help in this fight against terrorism. Following the Riyadh bombings, 
the Saudi Government instituted a number of new antiterrorism laws and 
policies, but all the evidence indicates they have fallen short with 
respect to implementation of those laws. Here is an example: The Saudi 
Government announced that all charitable donations distributed 
internationally must flow through a new national commission that 
purportedly would ensure the money did not end up in the hands of 
terrorists. It has now been nearly 3 years since this announcement was 
made, and the commission is still not yet up and running. Even worse, 
our Treasury officials reported last year that the Saudi Government's 
brandnew, highly touted finance intelligence unit was not ``fully 
functioning.'' Similarly, while the Saudi Government has worked with 
the United States to designate particular charities as terrorist 
financiers, it is not always possible for our Treasury officials to 
independently verify that particular problem charities--the ones we are 
most concerned about--have actually been shut down.
  Certainly, there have been some individuals in the Saudi Government 
who have attempted to address the terrorism question. At least since 
2003, Saudi leaders have made a number of public statements indicating 
they wish to address the problem. But these examples make clear that 
the reality of what is needed to win this war against terrorism still 
is not in line with some of the rhetoric.
  With respect to implementing and enforcing antiterrorism policies, 
the actions of the Saudi Arabian Government are questionable at best. 
There are two problems. The first is, as I have indicated, not all of 
the proposed new laws and policies have been implemented, and the 
second is that we have to get the Saudis to make a more aggressive 
commitment to enforcement. So you have to get them implemented, and 
then you have to get them enforced.
  John Negroponte, of course, the Director of National Intelligence, 
has been following this. At one of our open meetings of the 
Intelligence Committee, I asked him his assessment of the situation. 
Director Negroponte indicated that, in his view, the situation had 
improved a bit since 2003, but he made it clear, stating specifically 
that more work needs to be done, especially in the area of private 
Saudi donors, and that more is needed to crack down on their 
  This sentiment was echoed by the Congressional Research Service, 
which reported that no high-profile donors--none--had been subject to 
criminal punishment by the Saudi Government. The State Department has 
said publicly:

       Saudi Arabia should demonstrate its willingness to hold 
     elites accountable.

  But, unfortunately, in Saudi Arabia, the elites hold all the cards, 
and the Saudi Arabian Government, as indicated by the Congressional 
Research Service, is not willing to go after those who are most 
influential--the elites--in their country.
  Now, some have gone even further and suggested that the Saudi 
Government might actually be involved in the propagation and financing 
of terrorism. The evidence on this point is inconclusive, but this does 
not rule out the possibility that lower level officials in the Saudi 
Government may, in fact, be involved in funding or facilitating 
terrorism. Given the high levels of corruption reported in Saudi 
Arabia, this is certainly a possibility.
  Moreover, as the General Accounting Office points out, the 
distinction between the Government's support and funding versus that 
provided by entities and individuals, especially in the case of Saudi 
charities' alleged activities, is not always clear. The Saudi Royal 
Family is an excellent example. The Royal Family contains several 
thousand family members who collect Government allowances of varying 
amounts. If one of these royalties took a portion of their allowance 
money and funneled it to al-Qaida or Hamas, Saudi officials might claim 
that this did not even constitute Government support for terrorism. 
Certainly, I and others would say that the Government still bears 
significant responsibility.
  I would also argue that just because Saudi leaders are not personally 
involved in financing terrorism, this should not absolve them from 
accountability. Most of my constituents would contend that if terrorist 
activities are being planned or financed inside Saudi Arabia, then the 
Saudi Arabian Government has a responsibility to get off the dime and 
stop it. As we say in our State, you are either part of the problem or 
you are part of the solution.
  The Congress has a responsibility now to investigate this issue, and 
there are a number of key questions that ought to be answered.
  First, how much money is flowing from Saudi Arabia to terrorist 
groups? Which groups are the major beneficiaries and to what extent is 
official corruption a major factor?
  Second, there needs to be an examination of how far the Saudi Arabian 
Government has gone in implementing its new antiterrorist laws. 
Implementation and enforcement have clearly fallen short, but where can 
we see concrete examples of actual followup? What major gaps still 

  Finally, there needs to be an examination of the internal situation 
in Saudi Arabia. Currently, the Saudi Government is run by a small 
group of men in their seventies and eighties. What is likely to happen 
when they are gone? How secure is the regime now? What sort of 
government would be likely to emerge if the Royal Family lost their 
  It would be premature to try to offer answers to these and the other 
key questions. What is clear is that our Government will need to put 
more pressure on Saudi leaders than the current administration has 
applied thus far.
  It also seems very likely the answers will have a dramatic effect for 
U.S. energy policy which currently perpetuates our dependence on 
foreign oil. My guess is that people in Pennsylvania, like Oregonians, 
think that just about the most red, white, and blue thing we can do for 
our country is to get a new energy policy. Certainly, as we go forward 
to look into the activities of the Saudis, a bipartisan effort to get a 
new energy policy is a key factor in ensuring our ability to protect 
our citizens at a dangerous time.
  In the coming weeks and months, I plan to examine this issue as a 
member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I have asked our chairman, 
our very able chairman, Senator Rockefeller, to hold a closed hearing 
specifically dedicated to this topic, and one has been scheduled for 
this afternoon. It is time to bring to light the way in which Saudi oil 
money is fueling the fires of terrorism so people can actually see who 
is getting burned and what is necessary to protect the security and the 
well-being of Americans in a perilous world.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I note the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 
the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so