Many oil-rich Gulf states, ostensibly allied with the United States, have a policy of turning a blind eye to the terror planning and financing activities on their territories with Kuwait and Qatar being the worst offenders, according to a US diplomatic cable.
Saudi Arabia has done the most to disrupt terror networks, particularly the al Qaida but Gulf states like Qatar and Kuwait do little, allowing Islamic extremist groups to exploit these countries as bases; the year-end review cable in 2009 by the US State Department said.
The secret cable, written a year and a half ago and released by Wikileaks, also accused Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Kuwait of using their influence with UN Security Council members to prevent the banning of certain terror funding organizations.
While China helped Pakistan block an Indian proposal to proscribe three terror organizations, Libya helped Kuwait block the listing of Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), a charitable-cum-terror organization.
The US cable noted that countries tend to have double-standards. As long as the terror funding network confined itself to targets outside their own country, they were tolerated and no action was taken to disrupt them.
Briefing its ambassador in Kuwait City, the State Department pointed out that Kuwait has a “policy of co-opting terrorists as a means of deflecting potential attacks against Kuwaiti interests.”
It pointed out that “while the Government of Kuwait has demonstrated a willingness to take action when attacks target Kuwait, it has been less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks outside of Kuwait,” adding that Kuwait tends to tolerate terror plotting and funding “as long as the behavior occurs or is directed outside of Kuwait.”
But Kuwait’s record is still better than that of Qatar, home to one of the biggest gas blocks in the world and one of the richest countries.
The US termed Qatar’s co-operation on fighting terror networks as “the worst in the region,” and pointed out that al-Qaida, the Taliban, Lashkar e Toiba, and other terrorist groups have been quick to exploit Qatar as a fundraising locale.
Fear of reprisal attacks by terrorists and an unwillingness to be seen as an ally of the US are the two major reasons for Qatar’s unwillingness to crack down on terror funding, the cable went on.
The best counter-terrorism record belongs to Saudi Arabia, according to US estimates. The country has done the most to disrupt al-Qaida, but the US cable also pointed out that the government needs to also act against Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Because of the sheer size of the country and its status as the heartland of the Sunni Islamic faith, despite the best efforts of the government, it remains the “most significant source of funding” to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, the cable said.
“Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan.
“In contrast to its increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qa’ida’s access to funding from Saudi sources, Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa’ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the cable warned.