Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.
Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.
But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.
Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zakat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.
Some Saudis appear to know the money is headed to Iraq's insurgents, but others merely give it to clerics who channel it to anti-coalition forces, the officials said.
In one recent case, an Iraqi official said $25 million in Saudi money went to a top Iraqi Sunni cleric and was used to buy weapons, including Strela, a Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. The missiles were purchased from someone in Romania, apparently through the black market, he said.
Overall, the Iraqi officials said, money has been pouring into Iraq from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a Sunni bastion, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled the Sunni-controlled regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
This is yet another example of a state sponsoring terror within Iraq yet not suffering consequences for it. Somebody once said: "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
UPDATE -- Dec. 12: Saudi ambassador to U.S. resigns, paper reports.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, abruptly resigned his post after 15 months on the job and left the country, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing U.S. officials and foreign envoys.
Al-Faisal told his staff he was leaving to spend more time with his family, the newspaper reported, citing Arab diplomats. His predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, held the job for 22 years. ...
The departure also came days after Turki fired a consultant who wrote an opinion piece published in The Washington Post that suggested the Saudi kingdom would back Iraq's Muslim Sunnis in the event of a wider sectarian conflict.
The article by a Saudi government security adviser, Nawaf Obaid, said the kingdom would intervene with funding and weaponry to prevent Shiite militias from attacking Iraq's Sunnis and suggested Saudi Arabia could bring down world oil prices to squeeze Shiite power Iran.
Saudi Arabia denied the assertions, and Faisal said he terminated a consultancy agreement with Obaid, who had said the views were his own and not those of the Saudi government.
Posted by Forkum at December 10, 2006 05:12 PM