Saudi Arabian donors largest funders of al-Qaida, Taliban, LeT: WikiLeaks

Monday, December 6, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba a diplomatic cable unveiled by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks has revealed.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” The Guardian quoted a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as saying.

Her memo urged United States’ diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money from reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying, “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Ar groups that have raised funds via Saudi Arabia.

One cable details how Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, used a Saudi-based front company to fund its activities in 2005.

Militants seeking donations often come during the hajj pilgrimage- “a major security loophole since pilgrims often travel with large amounts of cash and the Saudis cannot refuse them entry into Saudi Arabia”.

Washington is critical of the Saudi refusal to ban three charities classified as terrorist entities in the US. “Intelligence suggests that these groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas,” she said.

The other major headache for the US in the Gulf region is the United Arab Emirates as the Afghan Taliban and their militant partners, the Haqqani network, earn “significant funds” through UAE-based businesses, according to one report.

The Taliban extort money from the large Pashtun community in the UAE, which is home to one million Pakistanis and 150,000 Afghans, and also fundraise by kidnapping Pashtun businessmen based in Dubai or their relatives, the paper said.

“Some Afghan businessmen in the UAE have resorted to purchasing tickets on the day of travel to limit the chance of being kidnapped themselves upon arrival in either Afghanistan or Pakistan,” said the report.

There is little information about militant fundraising in the fourth Gulf country singled out, Qatar, other than to say its “overall level of CT co-operation with the US is considered the worst in the region”.

The funding quagmire extends to Pakistan itself, where the US cables detail sharp criticism of the government’s ambivalence towards funding of militant groups that enjoy covert military support, the paper said.

The cables show how before the Mumbai terror seige, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats manoeuvred hard to block UN sanctions against Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).

But in August 2009, nine months after sanctions were finally imposed, US diplomats wrote: “We continue to see reporting indicating that JUD is still operating in multiple locations in Pakistan and that the group continues to openly raise funds”. (ANI)

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