Whether or not it turns out that a Saudi Arabian was responsible for the Boston bombing as is now being investigated, it remains clear that Saudi Arabia has a lot to answer for in the United States. Even before yesterday’s tragedy, across the political spectrum, questions remain about Saudi involvement with terrorism – but oil money goes a long way when it comes to politics.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reportedly spent $100 million on PR firms since September 11th, when it was revealed that 15 of the 19 bombers were from Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the country is quite sensitive to their public image. To wit, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was quick on Tuesday to issue a statement condemning the Boston Marathon bombings, saying no religion or morals would condone such an attack. In a note to President Barack Obama and the American people, the King said “the perpetrators of such “heinous terrorist acts” are “enemies of any humane considerations.” Quick acting as they know pressure is coming and any communications expert would have advised them.
Indeed, the Saudis have spent PR funds wisely – currently with their PR agency, Edelman Worldwide, and through the years with companies such as Qorvis Communications, Hill & Knowlton and others. Their PR firms may have been instrumental in last month’s announcement that Saudi citizens are now able to achieve “trusted traveler” status from America’s Department of Homeland Security, enabling them receive special clearance through American borders once screened. Unusual for a country with a questionable record towards terror.
And Saudi oil money is influential. From hundreds of millions spent at American Universities to the most powerful Arab in the world, Billionaire Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia owning the second-largest share in News Corp, money goes far. Prince Alwaleed is also a 3% owner of Twitter.
Despite all of this, the former Governor of Florida, Bob Graham, a former Senator who served as Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-Chair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 maintains that there is “Saudi complicity that our government continues to shield from the public, under a flawed classification program which appears to be part of a systematic effort to protect Saudi Arabia from any real accountability for its actions.” He continued “Despite the carefully orchestrated campaign to protect our Saudi “friends,” ample evidence of Saudi Arabia’s intimate ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks has come to light. The information indicating there were networks, foreign sources of support within the United States other than al-Qaeda, and that those networks had the backing of Saudi Arabia, is today stronger than ever.”
As Joe Lieberman said: “Either [the Saudis] have to change or the relationship that we have with Saudi Arabia is going to change dramatically. For too many generations, certainly years, they have pacified and accommodated themselves to the most extreme fanatical elements of Islam.”
One wonders when the light will shine upon Saudi Arabia – Regardless of what turns up in Boston, there is no better time than now.