Congress rejects Obama veto of 9/11 bill, in first override of presidency

694940094001_5145353620001_senate-votes-to-override-president-obama-s-veto-of-911-billFox News, Sept. 28, 2016:

Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected President Obama’s veto of a bipartisan bill letting families of Sept. 11 victims sue the Saudi Arabian government, in the first successful veto override of Obama’s presidency.

Marking a significant defeat for the White House, the House ensured the bill will become law after voting 348-77 to override Wednesday afternoon. This followed a 97-1 vote hours earlier in the Senate.

Despite last-ditch warnings from the Obama administration that the legislation could hurt national security and was “badly misguided,” lawmakers dismissed the concerns.

“This bill is about respecting the voices and rights of American victims,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on the Senate floor moments before Wednesday’s vote in that chamber, pushed back hard on Saudi government objections to the legislation.

“It’s very simple. If the Saudis were culpable, they should be held accountable. If they had nothing to do with 9/11, they have nothing to fear,” Schumer said.

Lawmakers in both chambers needed to muster a two-thirds majority to override, and did so easily. The lone “no” vote in the Senate was Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

With elections just over a month away, many lawmakers were reluctant to oppose a measure backed by 9/11 families who say they are still seeking justice 15 years after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. A group of senators pledged to find ways to improve the measure during a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress.

Despite an expectation that Congress would override, the White House made a last-ditch attempt to fight it. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid, Obama warned the bill could cause chaos in U.S. foreign affairs, as other countries would use the measure to justify the creation of ways to target “U.S. policies and activities that they oppose.”

“As a result, our nation and its armed forces, State Department, intelligence officials and others may find themselves subject to lawsuits in foreign courts.” Obama wrote in a letter delivered Tuesday.

But Cornyn, one of the bill’s leading proponents, dismissed Obama’s concerns as “unpersuasive.” Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, and other supporters said the bill is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, moved to the floor of the Senate in May and passed by voice vote. The bill cleared the House earlier this month, also by voice vote.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a letter Monday to a senior member of Congress, said he’s sympathetic to the intent of the measure. But the legislation could lead to the public disclosure of American secrets and even undercut counterterrorism efforts by sowing mistrust among U.S. partners and allies, according to Carter.

With the override, the bill will now become law. During his nearly two full terms in office, Obama had never had a veto overridden by Congress.

The legislation gives victims’ families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Courts would be permitted to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurs inside U.S. borders, according to the terms of the bill. Saudi Arabia has objected vehemently to the legislation.

Obama vetoed the measure last week, telling lawmakers the bill would make the U.S. vulnerable to retaliatory litigation in foreign courts that could put U.S. troops in legal jeopardy.

But the bill’s proponents have disputed Obama’s rationale as “unconvincing and unsupportable,” saying the measure is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil.

Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow and co-chair of September 11th Advocates, criticized Carter’s assessment, saying that the defense secretary had testified before Congress last week that he wasn’t an expert on the bill.

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Also see:

‘We Misled You’: How the Saudis Are Coming Clean on Funding Terrorism

download-12On his latest trip, a former senior U.S. official finds a new attitude in Riyadh. But will it stick?

On my most recent trip to Saudi Arabia, I was greeted with a startling confession. In the past, when we raised the issue of funding Islamic extremists with the Saudis, all we got were denials. This time, in the course of meetings with King Salman, Crown Prince Nayef, Deputy Crown Mohammad Bin Salman and several ministers, one top Saudi official admitted to me, “We misled you.” He explained that Saudi support for Islamic extremism started in the early 1960s as a counter to Nasserism—the socialist political ideology that came out of the thinking of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser—which threatened Saudi Arabia and led to war between the two countries along the Yemen border. This tactic allowed them to successfully contain Nasserism, and the Saudis concluded that Islamism could be a powerful tool with broader utility.

Under their new and unprecedented policy of honesty, the Saudi leadership also explained to me that their support for extremism was a way of resisting the Soviet Union, often in cooperation with the United States, in places like Afghanistan in the 1980s. In this application too, they argued, it proved successful. Later it was deployed against Iranian-supported Shiite movements in the geopolitical competition between the two countries.

But over time, the Saudis say, their support for extremism turned on them, metastasizing into a serious threat to the Kingdom and to the West. They had created a monster that had begun to devour them. “We did not own up to it after 9/11 because we feared you would abandon or treat us as the enemy,” the Saudi senior official conceded. “And we were in denial.”

Why this new frankness? First, it’s fair to ask how far the new policy really goes. Clearly, there are some questions about whether some extremist Sunni groups, such as al-Nusra in Syria, are still getting Saudi money. But as the Saudis described it to me, this new approach to grappling with their past is part of the leadership’s effort to make a new future for their country, including a broad-based economic reform program.

In their current thinking, the Saudis see Islamic extremism as one of the two major threats facing the kingdom—the other threat being Iran. On Iran, there is continuity. I remember when King Abdullah asked me to pass on to President George W. Bush in 2006 that he needed to cut the “serpent’s head” and attack Iran and overthrow the regime. The new leadership, like their predecessors, blames Iran for regional instability and the many conflicts going on.

The new Saudi leadership, in other words, appears to be downgrading ideology in favor of modernization. In fact, one senior Saudi official explicitly said that the Kingdom was pursuing a “revolution under the cover of modernization”—meaning that modernization was now the driver of Saudi policy.

Can it succeed, when so little has changed politically in a country still run autocratically by the House of Saud? The biggest unknowns are the temptations of the past—whether the Saudi leadership is united behind the new program and whether those who benefited from the old order will attempt to derail the reform agenda and thus destabilize the country. The opposition could come from the powerful religious establishment, which might oppose the opening of entertainment centers, the reform of religious institutions, even limited co-education and increased female participation in the workforce.

There have been many reform programs announced before in Saudi Arabia, only to fade into insignificance. Also, modernization undermines two pillars of Saudi political legitimacy, the endorsement of the Wahhabi clerical establishment and the traditionalism that undergirds any monarchical government. As modernization creates economic uncertainty for those benefiting from the present inefficient order, the result could be political turmoil. And it is an open question as to whether the Saudi people have been sufficiently prepared at all relevant levels in terms of education and skills to compete in the world economy, as they will need to do in a modernized economy.

If not, social tensions and unrest may arise among those who are not prepared to compete.

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Obama Is Right to Veto Bill Enabling Suits against the Saudis

President Obama with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, April 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

President Obama with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, April 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

Relations between governments are best handled through diplomacy, not legal proceedings.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, September 14, 2016

Why, when the Republican-controlled Congress is finally willing to fight President Obama to the point of forcing and potentially overriding a veto, do they pick an issue on which Obama is right?

In a grandstanding exhibition, Congress has enacted legislation that would enable private litigants — the most sympathetic imaginable, the families of 9/11 victims — to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Obviously, even if it is sued successfully, the Saudi government is never actually going to pay any judgments. More to the point, legislation of this kind will spur other countries to enact laws allowing their citizens to sue the United States — and maybe even criminal laws allowing the arrest of current and former American government officials (including military personnel) — for actions taken in defense of our country and pursuit of our interests.

Since we have interests throughout the world and a military that acts globally (and lethally), our nation has far more to lose than most nations by playing this game. Consequently, while I get the populist zeitgeist, it is disappointing to see people who ought to know better claiming that a veto would represent Obama’s prioritizing of Saudi interests over American interests. It would do nothing of the sort.

Moreover, the fervor for this legislation is indeed ironic for Republicans who complain — quite justifiably — that Obama regards international terrorism as a law-enforcement matter to be pursued in the courts. The judiciary is no more proper a forum for conducting diplomacy than it is for dealing with a national-security challenge.

Relations between the United States and any other sovereign, including the Saudi regime, ought to be managed by the political branches — in particular, the executive — in whom the Constitution vests responsibility. They should not be subject to litigation overseen by politically unaccountable courts. Legal cases can be unpredictable due to the differences in the predispositions and skill levels of the individual judges and litigators. That is not a problem in the vast run of private lawsuits, since the appellate process sorts out most errors. But it can be a huge problem in international relations, on which hinge alliances and intelligence-gathering arrangements on which our security depends.

That, of course, is why countries mutually grant their officials diplomatic immunity, which bars prosecution of even serious crimes committed by diplomatic personnel. It is why a country’s diplomatic installations are considered its sovereign territory even on foreign soil — such that violating them — as, for example, Iran did to our embassy in 1979 — is an act of war. These norms often work injustices in individual cases, but it is imperative that we preserve them.

To be clear, I have no sympathy for the Obama administration’s concerns about enraging the Saudi regime. We should be enraging them. I doubt if anyone was more vigorous than I in arguing that there should be full disclosure of the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks — including the publication of previously sealed pages from a congressional report. The United States should stop pretending that the Saudis are a reliable counterterrorism ally. We should be exposing and condemning the regime’s enforcement of barbaric sharia corporal penalties, as well as sharia’s systematic discrimination against women, apostates, non-Muslims, Muslim minorities, and homosexuals.

As I’ve previously argued, there is also no reason why the Obama administration could not negotiate with the Saudis in an effort to create a fund to compensate 9/11 victims. The Saudis would of course be resistant, but we have cards to play in such a negotiation. Plus, the Saudis might well prefer to appear magnanimous in contributing to a fund than suffer the indignity of being found culpable for 9/11 in legal proceedings. It may not work, but it is worth trying.

Furthermore, there is no restriction, and should be none, on civil lawsuits against individual Saudi citizens and entities that are complicit in terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks. We should be more aggressive in prosecuting Saudi entities, including “charities,” that provide material support to terrorism — an imperative President Obama has slackened on in the name of appeasing Islamists.

Nevertheless, a foreign government is not like a private litigant, and has historically not been treated as such. Real security depends on maintaining the international system of sovereign states that respect each other’s sovereignty. It is the transnational progressives who envision a post-sovereign world in which unelected judges and international organizations call the tune, undermining the prerogatives of nationhood and democratic self-determination. (See, e.g., my review in The New Criterion of Justice Stephen Breyer’s The Court and the World.) Why would Republicans want to contribute to that effort?

Obviously, the bipartisan legislation is popular: We would all like to see the 9/11 families made as whole as possible (though their losses can never really be fully compensated). And we’d like to see the Saudis get their well-deserved comeuppance as a leading sponsor of jihadist terror.

A great deal of long-term damage, though, can be done by something that, however fleetingly popular, sets a terrible precedent. This is a wrong-headed bill, and President Obama is right to veto it.

 Andrew CMcCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Despite ‘28 pages’ release, Saudi’s 9/11 involvement still buried

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, Sept. 10, 2016:

The White House thinks releasing the “28 pages” summarizing Saudi involvement in 9/11 satisfied the public’s need to know. But don’t be fooled. The full story remains buried under more than 100,000 pages of other, still-secret documents.

The public didn’t even get to see everything that was in those long-classified 28 (actually 29) pages from the congressional inquiry, which narrowly focus on Saudi government officials’ contacts with just two of the 15 Saudi hijackers during their stay in San Diego. The Obama administration blacked-out critical information throughout the document.

In all, there are nearly 100 separate redactions, ranging from single words, such as names of Saudi suspects, to paragraphs and entire sections of text. Obama’s censors offered no reason why any of that information had to be kept secret 15 years after the attacks, even though such explanations are required as part of declassification reviews.

The 29 pages reveal numerous, reinforcing connections between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers. As convincing as they are in tying them together as co-conspirators, they’re merely a summary of the FBI and CIA case files that detail the supporting evidence, including Saudi phone and financial records and statements from material witnesses and informants. The FBI files on alleged Saudi intelligence agent and hijacker handler Omar al-Bayoumi alone are said to run more than 4,000 pages. They are said to include interviews with Saudi government officials who had contact with Bayoumi.

Lawyers for 9/11 families suing the Saudi kingdom, who Friday won congressional passage of a bill removing Saudi’s sovereign immunity, want to get their hands on those documents, along with:

  • More than 80,000 pages of unreleased documents related to the FBI’s investigation of a wealthy, well-connected Saudi family in Sarasota, Fla., who had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001,” according to a 2002 FBI report.
  • Still-classified FBI case files from the investigations of hijackers based in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as Arizona and Oklahoma.
  • Still-secret material from the 9/11 Commission, including investigators’ 2003 interview with Saudi Prince Bandar, the transcript of which remains under lock and key at the National Archives. (The interview could shed light on why, according to the 29 pages, Bandar personally wrote checks to one of the hijackers’ alleged handlers and why a top al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan possessed an unlisted phone number tied to Bandar’s Aspen mansion, as well as the phone number for one of Bandar’s bodyguards at the Saudi embassy in Washington.)
  • An entire section on the Saudi’s role in 9/11 that was blanked-out from the 2015 report of the 9/11 Review Commission, set up to assess the FBI’s and CIA’s performance in implementing the original commission’s recommendations and to evaluate new evidence.
  • The 2005 “joint FBI-CIA intelligence report assessing the nature and extent of Saudi government support of terrorism,” which remains classified.
  • Some 632 pages withheld by the Treasury Department explaining why a Saudi charity tied to al Qaeda was formally designated a foreign terrorist organization.
  • Documents and other materials recovered from the raid of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad,Pakistan compound in 2011 that still remain sealed.
  • Redacted pages from a 2002 CIA report titled “Saudi-Based Financial Support for Terrorist Organizations.”
  • Federal documents related to the investigations of as many as 70 Saudi nationals with Saudi diplomatic credentials who were kicked out of the country and sent back to their country after 9/11, most of whom worked in the Islamic Affairs offices of the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • FBI reports and State Department memos detailing the decision to deny re-entry into the US in 2003 of Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi cleric who worked at the Saudi consulate in LA and is said to have acted as the advance man for two of the Saudi hijackers and, in fact, may have been at the center of the US support network for them.

The White House and Riyadh hoped the public would move on after the partial release of the 29 pages.

“Now that the declassification is complete,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, “we hope to continue our close cooperation with the US.” Not so fast. With so much still hidden from public view, the release of the 29 pages should be just the start of 9/11 transparency, not the end of it.

Paul Sperry is author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Iran / Saudi Feud Intensifies Over Takfiri Claims

isaud-1Saudi Arabia’s highest cleric declares Iran’s Shi’ite Islam to be non-Muslim. Iranian leaders including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei claim it’s Saudi Wahhabis who are not Muslims, and say they’re unfit to guard Mecca.

CounterJihad, Sept. 8, 2016:

The highest ranked cleric in Saudi Arabia has declared that Iran’s Shi’ite Islam is not a true form of the faith.  The two states are already fighting enthusiastically through proxies in Yemen and elsewhere.  The undiplomatic language can only escalate tensions between the countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said[,]  “We have to understand that they are not Muslims. … Their main enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis)[.]”… He described Iranian leaders as sons of “magus”, a reference to Zoroastrianism, the dominant belief in Persia until the Muslim Arab invasion of the region that is now Iran 13 centuries ago.

Following the statements by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called into question Saudi Arabia’s right to continue to control the territory containing the cities of Mecca and Medina.  Each are considered holy cities by Muslims, indeed the two holiest places on earth.

“The evil family tree of the Saudi dynasty does not have the competence to manage the holy shrines,” Khamenei said.

Al al-Sheikh’s remarks drew an acerbic retort from Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said they were evidence of bigotry among Saudi leaders.  “Indeed; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric & Saudi terror masters preach,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.

Ironically, these accusations that the other does not practice a true form of Islam only underlines the degree to which these are both Muslim countries.  As we at CounterJihad pointed out when the Islamic State attacked Medina, the accusations of not being a Muslim — a practice called takfiri — is a classic gambit in radical Muslim movements.  Our resident Islamic scholar explained the history of the practice at greater length on another occasion:

ISIS certainly represents a train of thought in the 1,400 year old Islamic tradition, even if it is an extremist train of thought that has not enjoyed prominence in Islamic history.  As a matter of fact, the takfiri mentality is not a novelty in the 1,400 year old Islamic tradition.  One need only look back to the last century to see this takfiri mentality in the likes of influential thinkers as Abul ‘Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979 A.D.), and his protégé Sayyid Qutb (1906 – 1966 A.D.), the main theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood.  One could look two centuries back and arrive at the takfiri attitude of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (1703 – 1792 A.D.). One could go even further back—centuries ago—to the likes of Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 – 1328 A.D.), a darling of Islamists the world over, to see the same attitude.

So the takfiri mentality of ISIS is not a novelty in Islamic history. It should be noted that although it is true that Muslims generally shied away from declaring apparent Muslims as non-Muslims (which is why al-Azhar shies away from declaring ISIS members as non-Muslims),  it is nonetheless true that the takfiri mentality follows a centuries-old strain of thought. And it is not just maverick Islamic jurisprudents who theorized and applied this takfiri attitude; whole Muslim states did as well. As Rudoph Peters, a Dutch scholar of Islam who has written multiple treatises on Jihad, states,

Due to the collapse of Islamic political unity, often two Muslim states would be at war with one another.  In such situations muftis would usually find cause to label the enemies either as rebels or as heretics, thus justifying the struggle against them.

Throughout Islamic history, governments and opposition movements have declared their Muslim adversaries to be heretics or unbelievers (takfir, declaring someone to be a kafir, unbeliever) in order to justify their struggle against them.[21]

Thus, the dispute over who is a ‘real’ Muslim is itself a marker of the fact that both aspirants are indeed part of the Islamic political and theological tradition.  And it is a unified, theological and political tradition.  That fact makes it difficult for opponents of the political tradition, which contains many oppressive elements especially for women, as well as religious and sexual minorities.  The unity of the politics with the theology makes it easy to paint such opponents as if they were objecting to the religion rather than to the politics.  This defensive mechanism often insulates even brutal states like Iran and Saudi Arabia from the full scale of criticism that their oppressive practices deserve.

What in fact is happening is that two nation states are fighting for primacy in the Islamic world.  They are likely to divide it between them, and then to suffer friction all along the borders of their zones of influence.  The takfiri language only marks this out as a conflict within Islam, although one likely to have consequences for anyone involved in the region.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Urges Muslim Nations to Take Hajj Away from Saudi Arabia

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Sept. 5, 2016:

In a message relayed by Iranian state media, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Muslim nations to “fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj.”

The “two holy places” are the cities of Mecca and Medina, while the hajj is the pilgrimage to visit them, which devout Muslims are supposed to make at least once during their lives. The hajj season begins on September 11.

Reuters notes that Iranian pilgrims will not attend the hajj this year, because talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia broke down in May. The immediate reason for these talks, and Iran’s criticism of the Saudis, was the horrifying stampede that occurred during the 2015 hajj, which killed 769 pilgrims by Saudi Arabia’s count, 131 of them Iranians. (Other sources believe the actual death toll was two or three times higher than Riyadh’s official numbers.)

“Among the suggested causes: pilgrims rushing to complete the rituals, heat, masses of faithful pushing against each other in opposite directions, even confusion among the many first-timers on the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Mina,” CNN wrote in September 2015, while the bodies were still being counted.

This was not the first deadly incident to occur during the incredibly crowded pilgrimage, which brings over 2 million visitors to the Muslim holy cities. Critics of Saudi Arabia’s management have long complained about inadequate accommodations, insufficient food and shelter for the throngs of pilgrims, and poor crowd control.

The UK Guardian reports that the Saudis are attempting to address some of these complaints, including increased use of surveillance cameras, more staff with better training, better coordination with hajj missions from other countries, and electronic wristbands for visitors, which will help the authorities monitor crowd movements and detect dangerous buildups.

There is, of course, a political dimension to the dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well, with the two nations conducting a sort of Middle East Cold War that isn’t all that cold, in proxy conflicts like Yemen. The Saudis believe Iran planned to use its hajj pilgrims to stage anti-Saudi demonstrations in Mecca and Medina. Iran has suggested Saudi Arabia deliberately sabotaged the 2015 pilgrimage, or is at best indifferent to the safety of non-Saudi (or non-Sunni Muslim) visitors.

“Riyadh accuses Tehran of destabilizing Arab states and spreading sectarianism by backing militias in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen and fomenting unrest in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Iran denies those charges,” Reuters writes.

Khamenei brought Iran’s broader conflict with Saudi Arabia into his hajj remarks, urging the Muslim world not to “let those rulers escape responsibility for the crimes they have caused throughout the world of Islam.”

He threw in a dash of anti-Americanism, too, as quoted by the Trend news agency: “Those who have reduced hajj to a religious-tourist trip and have hidden their enmity and malevolence towards the faithful and revolutionary people of Iran under the name of ‘politicizing hajj,’ are themselves small and puny devils who tremble for fear of jeopardizing the interests of the Great Satan, the US.”

“The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers- instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them,” Khamenei thundered. “Because of these rulers’ oppressive behavior towards God’s guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj. Negligence in this regard will confront the Islamic Ummah with more serious problems in the future.”

The BBC adds Khamenei referring to Saudi Arabia’s rulers as “disgraced and misguided people” who have “blocked the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims’ path to the Beloveds’ House.”

Hillary First Broached Saudi Visa Deal During Visit to Huma Abedin’s Mom’s Saudi Madrassa

abedin-clinton

The annual number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Saudis soared 93% during Clinton’s tenure, hitting a record 108,578 per year in 2013.

CounterJihad, by Paul Sperry, Aug. 31, 2016:

Earlier this month, CounterJihad.com broke the story that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was instrumental in cutting a special deal with the Saudi government to reverse post-9/11 restrictions on Saudi visas, triggering an unprecedented explosion in Saudi students entering the US. CJ has since learned that the seeds of this major change in immigration policy — one with serious national security implications — were planted during a 2010 visit by Clinton to a Saudi college founded by her top aide’s radical Muslim mother — a college that turns out to have direct ties to terrorists.

Clinton’s then-deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin arranged the trip to the radical Saudi school, overruling concerns by diplomatic security, in what was yet another example of Abedin, a self-described “devout Muslim” whose family has direct ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, playing an outsize role in influencing US policy when it comes to the Middle East and Muslim empowerment.

The policy reversal appears to have had its roots in a speech Clinton gave at the Dar al-Hekma girls college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the behest of Abedin, whose mother, Saleha Abedin, helped found the school and currently serves as its dean. Abedin also runs the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, which seeks to boost Muslim immigration rates in the the U.S. and other Western countries, while also propagating Sharia law in those nations.

“You know that after 9/11, the United States closed its borders to students from around the world, and the number of Saudi students studying in our country fell dramatically,” Clinton lamented in her talk before the elder Abedin and her students. “Well, I am very pleased that we are now back to the levels that we had before 9/11.”

“But I am not satisfied,” Clinton quickly added. “I would like to see more exchanges, and more of them being two-way exchanges, where American students and American faculty come here, to Saudi Arabia, as well as going from here to there.”

Clinton delivered on her promise, big-time.

Despite evidence Saudi terrorists exploit the U.S. visa program, Clinton doubled the number of visas for Saudi visitors to the U.S., while helping broker a deal with the Kingdom to waive security procedures for Saudi nationals upon their arrival in the U.S.

The annual number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Saudi nationals soared 93% during Clinton’s tenure as secretary from 2009 to 2013, federal data show, hitting a record 108,578 in fiscal 2013 and reversing a post-9/11 pause in Saudi visa approvals.

Before leaving office, Clinton helped negotiate a little-noticed January 2013 administration deal with Riyadh to allow Saudi visa-holders to enter the U.S. as “trusted travelers” and bypass the normal border security process. The next year, the State Department issued an all-time-high 142,180 Saudi visas, consular data show.

All told, the Obama administration has opened the floodgates to more than 709,000 Saudi nationals, most of whom applied for student or business visas, records show.

It’s as if 9/11 never happened and 15 Saudi terrorists never infiltrated the country on rubber-stamped visas. The surge represents a major shift from changes in immigration policy made in the wake of 9/11, when the number of visas issued to Saudi Arabians plummeted 69.7%. In fiscal 2002, Saudi visas slowed to a relative trickle of just 14,126.

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances, Saudi Arabia, FY1997-2014

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances, Saudi Arabia, FY1997-2014

Saudi immigration was tightened after it was revealed that the State Department’s Visa Express program benefited some of the Saudi hijackers on 9/11. Less known is that two other al-Qaida-tied Saudi nationals visiting America on student visas also took advantage of the lax policy. It turns out that, according to the recently released 29 pages detailing Saudi involvement in 9/11, these other young Saudi men made a “dry run” to test airline security ahead of the 9/11 hijackings.

Dar al-Hekma, which is Arabic for House of Infinite Islamic Wisdom, was co-founded and funded by a federal designated terrorist — Yaseen Kadi — and by key Saudi bankers named as defendants in the 9/11 lawsuit, as well as members of the bin Laden family, according to a list of “establishers” and “trustees” the school published on its website after it first opened in 1999.

It turns out that the burka-clad girls who gathered at the Saudi women’s college to hear Clinton speak heckled her in Arabic, as Huma and her mother stood by, according to accounts reported at the time in the Arabic press.

Also see:

No Saudi Money for American Mosques

saudi duplicityMEF, by Daniel Pipes, originally at The HillAugust 22, 2016:

Saudi Arabia may be the country in the world most different from the United States, especially where religion is concerned. An important new bill introduced by Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) aims to take a step toward fixing a monumental imbalance.

Consider those differences: Secularism is a bedrock U.S. principle, enshrined in the Constitution’s First Amendment; in contrast, the Koran and Sunna are the Saudi constitution, enshrined as the Basic Law’s first article.

Anyone can build a religious structure of whatever nature in the United States, so the Saudis fund mosque after mosque. In the kingdom, though, only mosques are allowed; it hosts not a single church – or, for that matter, synagogue, or Hindu, Sikh, Jain, or Baha’i temple. Hints going back nearly a decade that the Saudis will allow a church have not born fruit but seem to serve as delaying tactics.

Pray any way you wish in America, so long as you do not break the law. Non-Muslims who pray with others in Saudi Arabia engage in an illicit activity that could get them busted, as though they had participated in a drug party.

The United States, obviously, has no sacred cities open only to members of a specific faith. KSA has two of them, Mecca and Medina; trespassers who are caught will meet with what the Saudi authorities delicately call “severe punishment.”

With only rare (and probably illegal) exceptions, the U.S. government does not fund religious institutions abroad (and those exceptions tend to be for Islamic institutions). In contrast, the Saudi monarchy has spent globally an estimated US $100 billion to spread its Wahhabi version of Islam. Products of Saudi-funded Wahhabi schools and mosques have often been incited to political violence against non-Muslims.

The Saudis have been arrogantly indiscreet about spending to promote Wahhabism. For example, a 2005 Freedom House report reviewed some of the extremist literature provided to the public by Saudi-funded institutions and concluded that it poses “a grave threat to non-Muslims and to the Muslim community itself.” The monarchy has also given multiple and generous grants to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the most aggressive and effective Islamist organization in the United States.

Freedom House blew the lid off of Saudi funding of extremism in 2005.

Freedom House blew the lid off of Saudi funding of extremism in 2005.

This discrepancy, a version of which exists in every Western country, demands a solution. Some Western governments have taken ad hoc, provisional steps to address it.

• In 2007, the Australian government turned down a Saudi request to send funds to the Islamic Society of South Australia to help build a new mosque. “Obviously we don’t want to see any extremist organisation penetrate into Australia,” explained then-Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Eight years later, Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks affirmed the kingdom’s intense interest in influencing Islamic politics in Australia.

• In 2008, the Saudis offered to finance construction of a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Moscow, prompting three Russian Orthodox groups to write an open letter to then-King Abdullah suggesting that his kingdom lift its ban on churches.

• In 2010, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støreturned down Saudi funding for a mosque on the grounds that the Saudi kingdom lacks religious freedom.

• In July, reeling from multiple attacks over 18 months that killed 236 people on French soil, Prime Minister Manuel Valls mused about prohibiting foreign funding of mosques “for a period of time to be determined,” provoking an intense debate.

These one-off responses may satisfy voters but they had almost no impact. That requires something more systematic – legislation.

Brat’s proposed bill, H.R. 5824, the “Religious Freedom International Reciprocity Enhancement Act,” makes it unlawful for “foreign nationals of a country that limits the free exercise of religion in that country to make any expenditure in the United States to promote a religion in the United States, and for other purposes.” Hello, Saudi Arabia!

To “promote a religion” includes funding “religious services, religious education, evangelical outreach, and publication and dissemination of religious literature.” Should funding proceed anyway in defiance of this bill, the U.S. government can seize the monies.

The bill needs more work: it omits mention of religious buildings, offers no criteria for seizure of property, and does not indicate who would do the seizing. But it offers an important beginning. I commend it and urge its urgent consideration and adoption.

Americans cannot abide aggressive unilateral actions by Riyadh (or, for that matter, Tehran and Doha) exploiting their oil bonanza to smother the secularist principles basic to Western life. We must protect ourselves.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

Huma Abedin’s Successful Influence Operations

huma-1-640x480Paul Sperry reports at the New York Post that a Clinton spokesman denies Huma Abedin played an active role in the editing of the Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs. The Journal is decidedly pro-sharia. The question of Huma’s position on Women’s  rights in view of her past ties is relevant as Hillary Clinton has made it a campaign issue.

Brian Lilley comments on the story at Rebel Media:

And now, in today’s White House press briefing, Fox News’ James Rosen asks about Huma:

What we should also be focusing on is evidence of a successful influence operation on Hillary Clinton as laid out in a 2013 article by Andrew McCarthy titled “The Huma Unmentionables”

Excerpt:

In the late mid to late Nineties, while she was an intern at the Clinton White House and an assistant editor at JMMA, Ms. Abedin was a member of the executive board of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at George Washington University, heading its “Social Committee.” The MSA, which has a vast network of chapters at universities across North America, is the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infrastructure in the United States. Obviously, not every Muslim student who joins the MSA graduates to the Brotherhood — many join for the same social and networking reasons that cause college students in general to join campus organizations. But the MSA does have an indoctrination program, which Sam Tadros describes as a lengthy process of study and service that leads to Brotherhood membership — a process “designed to ensure with absolute certainty that there is conformity to the movement’s ideology and a clear adherence to its leadership’s authority.” The MSA gave birth to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Islamist organization in the U.S. Indeed the MSA and ISNA consider themselves the same organization. Because of its support for Hamas (a designated terrorist organization that is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), ISNA was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, in which several Hamas operatives were convicted of providing the terrorist organization with lavish financing.

As I’ve recounted before, the MSA chapter to which Ms. Abedin belonged at George Washington University

has an intriguing history. In 2001 [to be clear, that is after Ms. Abedin had graduated from GWU], its spiritual guide was . . . Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda operative who was then ministering to some of the eventual 9/11 suicide-hijackers. Awlaki himself had led the MSA chapter at Colorado State University in the early nineties. As Patrick Poole has demonstrated, Awlaki is far from the only jihadist to hone his supremacist ideology in the MSA’s friendly confines. In the eighties, Wael Jalaidan ran the MSA at the University of Arizona. He would soon go on to help Osama bin Laden found al-Qaeda; he also partnered with the Abedin family’s patron, Abdullah Omar Naseef, to establish the [aforementioned] Rabita Trust — formally designated as a terrorist organization under U.S. law due to its funding of al-Qaeda.

Ms. Abedin served as one of Secretary of State Clinton’s top staffers and advisers at the State Department. As I’ve previously detailed, during that time, the State Department strongly supported abandoning the federal government’s prior policy against official dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood. State, furthermore, embraced a number of Muslim Brotherhood positions that undermine both American constitutional rights and our alliance with Israel. To name just a few manifestations of this policy sea change:

  • The State Department had an emissary in Egypt who trained operatives of the Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations in democracy procedures.
  • The State Department announced that the Obama administration would be “satisfied” with the election of a Muslim Brotherhood–dominated government in Egypt.
  • Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
  • The State Department collaborated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of governments heavily influenced by the Brotherhood, in seeking to restrict American free-speech rights in deference to sharia proscriptions against negative criticism of Islam.
  • The State Department excluded Israel, the world’s leading target of terrorism, from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum,” a group that brings the United States together with several Islamist governments, prominently including its co-chair, Turkey — which now finances Hamas and avidly supports the flotillas that seek to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas. At the forum’s kickoff, Secretary Clinton decried various terrorist attacks and groups; but she did not mention Hamas or attacks against Israel — in transparent deference to the Islamist governments, which echo the Brotherhood’s position that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and that attacks against Israel are not terrorism.
  • The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer $1.5 billion dollars in aid to Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in the parliamentary elections.
  • The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian territories notwithstanding that Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
  • The State Department and the administration hosted a contingent from Egypt’s newly elected parliament that included not only Muslim Brotherhood members but amember of the Islamic Group (Gamaa al-Islamiyya), which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The State Department refused to provide Americans with information about the process by which it issued a visa to a member of a designated terrorist organization, about how the members of the Egyptian delegation were selected, or about what security procedures were followed before the delegation was allowed to enter our country.
  • On a trip to Egypt, Secretary Clinton pressured General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military junta then governing the country, to surrender power to the parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the then–newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a top Brotherhood official. She also visited with Morsi; immediately after his victory, Morsi had proclaimed that his top priorities included pressuring the United States to release the Blind Sheikh. Quite apart from the Brotherhood’s self-proclaimed “grand jihad” to destroy the United States . . . the group’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, publicly called for jihad against the United States in an October 2010 speech. After it became clear the Brotherhood would win the parliamentary election, Badie said the victory was a stepping stone to “the establishment of a just Islamic caliphate.”

Also see:

The Royal Kingdom and 9/11

186361482Secure Freedom Radio With Paul Sperry on Aug. 16, 2016:

PAUL SPERRY, Editor-in-chief of CounterJihad.com, columnist at the New York Post, author of “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America”:

READ TRANSCRIPT

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

  • 28 pages containing damaging evidence against top Saudi diplomatic figures
  • Raw data could prove to be much more damning than that in 28 pages
  • Investigating Bandar bin Sultan and Saud al-Faisal

(PART TWO): (podcast2): Play in new window | Download

  • Relationship between the Royal Kingdom and the Global Jihad Movement
  • Saudi-financed mosques in the US
  • Role played by the Muslim World League

(PART THREE): (podcast3): Play in new window | Download

  • Obama Administration giving out massive number of student visas to Saudi nationals
  • Huma Abedin’s family history

(PART FOUR): (podcast4): Play in new window | Download

  • Abedin’s potential influence in a Hillary Clinton presidency
  • Evidence gained from the US Holyland Foundation trial
  • How the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated the US government

(PART FIVE): (podcast5): Play in new window | Download

  • The Khan spectacle continues in the media
  • Khan’s expertise in Sharia law
  • Social unrest and violence in Milwaukee

Center Assesses ‘28 Pages’ Insights Into Saudi Double-Game, Clinton Role In Exacerbating Threat

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CENTER ASSESSES ‘28 PAGES’ INSIGHTS INTO SAUDI DOUBLE-GAME AMIDST REVELATIONS OF CLINTON ROLE IN EXACERBATING ITS THREAT HERE

Center for Security Policy, Aug. 9, 2016:

Washington, D.C.: Investigative reporter Paul Sperry revealed yesterday at CounterJihad.com the extent to which Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State reversed many of the measures put into place after 9/11 to protect the United States from additional Saudi jihadist attacks.

The necessity for such measures was underscored by the contents of the so-called “28 Pages,”a portion of the original congressional investigation conducted in the wake of the death and destruction caused by 15 Saudi nationals and four other Islamic supremacists on September 11, 2001. These pages had, until recently, been withheld from the American people and only were released last month in a redacted form.

The Center for Security Policy released today a white paper entitled “What’s in the 28 Pages?” providing valuable background information about this report and key highlights of its findings and offering recommendations as to a variety of changes with respect to U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia and other enablers of and participants in the Global Jihad Movement.

Upon releasing this report, Center President Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. observed:

At a moment when Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy judgment and experience are properly the subject of intense scrutiny and debate, her role in undoing sensible measures aimed at protecting this country and its people from further Saudi treachery must be carefully considered. Such an analysis must, in turn, be informed by the insights about a specific and devastating example of such treachery: the 9/11 jihadist attacks on the United States.

The Center’s newest white paper illuminates the 28 Pages’ findings about the extent to which Saudi officials – including long-time ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar – were implicated along with various other nationals of their country, including of course, fifteen out of nineteen of the hijackers. The unmistakable implication is that the status Saudi Arabia enjoyed as a trusted ally prior to September 11, 2001 contributed to the execution of this murderous act of jihad. Similarly, it was eminently sensible after those attacks occurred to reduce dramatically Saudi student visas and to monitor more closely those Saudis coming to and inside the United States.

In light of what’s in the 28 Pages, America needs urgently to revisit decisions taken on Hillary Clinton’s watch that undid such sensible measures – and vigorously question those responsible.

PDF of “What’s in the 28 Pages

Israeli-Saudi Ties Warming; Hizballah and Iran Livid

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

PJ MEDIA, BY P. DAVID HORNIK, AUGUST 7, 2016:

The Israeli society that I encountered embraces a culture of peace, has accomplishments it wants to (protect), wants coexistence, and wants peace.

Those words weren’t spoken by an enthused congressman after a trip to Israel. They were spoken to BBC Arabic by Abd al-Mujid al-Hakim, director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Policy in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, and a member of a Saudi delegation that recently visited Israel.

The delegation, which included academics and businessmen, was led by Dr. Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general and former top adviser to the Saudi government. About a year earlier Eshki had shaken hands and shared a stage in Washington with Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold—seen as a major breakthrough at the time. But a public visit to Israel of this kind, which could only have been carried out with the approval of the highest level of the Saudi government, is a historical first and still has a taste of the surreal to it.

During the visit Eshki met again with Gold; with Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, responsible for Israeli administration of the territories; with Palestinian officials in Ramallah; and with opposition Members of Knesset.

One of those opposition MKs, Issawi Frej of the far-left, mostly Jewish Meretz Party, said:

The Saudis want to open up to Israel. It’s a strategic move for them. They want to continue what former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat started (with the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty). They want to get closer with Israel, and we could feel it clearly.

What’s going on?

Israeli commentator Yossi Melman, while noting that the visit marks a new plateau in the increasingly overt Israeli-Saudi ties, points out:

[O]n a covert level, according to foreign reports, the ties being cultivated are even more fascinating. Intelligence Online reported that Israel is selling intelligence equipment, as well as control and command centers, to the Saudi security forces. Previously, it had been reported in the foreign media that the heads of the Mossad, the organization responsible for Israel’s covert ties, met with their Saudi counterparts. Media outlets affiliated with Hezbollah even reported that officers from the two countries’ armies had met.

What’s going on, in other words, is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have common enemies in the region, and with American power withdrawing, Israel’s power constantly growing, ISIS threatening, and the Obama administration having paved a path to nuclear weapons for Iran, the Saudis—like Egypt, Jordan, and other Sunni states—are casting their troubled gaze toward Jerusalem.

Or as Melman puts it:

Israel and the Saudis share a fear for Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s efforts to increase its influence in the region. They also both have an interest in weakening the standing of Hezbollah, “the forward headquarters” of Iran on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks often of Israel’s ties with the “Sunni Bloc,” and hints that the Saudis are included in this group.

It appears that he need hint no more.

Last week’s Saudi visit to Jerusalem—a dramatic, even stunning confirmation of Israel’s cooperation with that bloc—did not go unnoticed, of course, by the rival Shiite bloc. And they’re not happy about it.

Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused the Saudis of “normalizing for free, without receiving anything in return…. It seems the future of Palestine and the fate of its children have become a trivial matter for some Arab states recently.”

The Saudi visit, he said, “couldn’t have taken place without the agreement of the Saudi government. We know how things work there. In Saudi Arabia a person will be lashed for so much as tweeting.”

But if Nasrallah is not pleased with this development, his boss—Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei—is even less thrilled.

As Khamenei tweeted on Monday: “Revelation of Saudi government’s relations with Zionist regime was stab in the back of Islamic Ummah.”

None of this means that the Sunni Arab part of the Ummah is ready to warmly embrace Israel. While in Israel last week, Dr. Eshki—like Egyptian and Jordanian officials before him—said that real “normalization” would have to await a resolution of the Palestinian issue. It’s code for: “We’re not really ready to accept a Jewish state in our midst.”

Still, considering that Israel and Sunni Arab states used to fight wars every few years, a reality of nonbelligerency and pragmatic ties is a major improvement for Israel. Whoever is the next U.S. president might want to cooperate with the Israeli-Sunni alliance against Iran instead of giving the mullahs a “sunset clause” leading to nuclear night.

Saudi Arabia’s ambivalent relationship to terrorism

House of Saud - House of Cards?

House of Saud – House of Cards?

Saudi Arabia is often accused of supporting jihadist groups. Now, the monarchy is helping Berlin’s security authorities in the fight against terror. What appears to be a contradiction is not.

DW, by Kersten Knipp, Aug. 8, 2016:

A jihadi inspired rampage in a regional train near Würzburg; and a bomb attack – designed to kill a large number of people but gone awry – in Ansbach: Both attacks were supposedly orchestrated by men in Saudi Arabia that gave the attackers instructions from afar, via chat.

That is the story the German magazine “Spiegel” is reporting in connection to chat protocols in the possession of federal agencies. The magazine also refers to information provided by a high-ranking government official in the Saudi capital Riyadh. According to the official, several telephone numbers show that the two young men were in close contact with the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS) in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has now announced comprehensive cooperation with Germany in investigating the recent attacks in Bavaria.

For years, Saudi Arabia has been the source of what has appeared to be contradictory information. First, the country is accused of exporting an extremely conservative strain of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, which also happens to be the kingdom’s state religion. Shortly after the outbreak of war in Syria, accusations that the monarchy was financing jihadi groups that were not only seeking to topple the Assad government but also create a new “caliphate” under the control of the terror organization “Islamic State” (IS), grew louder. And finally, for years the West has considered Saudi Arabia to be an important partner in the fight against jihadist terror.

Dubious commitment

Sebastian Sons, Middle East expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), tells DW that the news is not as contradictory as it initially seems. “The Saudi government has been involved in the fight against terror since the attacks on America in September 2001. That was partially a reaction to US pressure. But it was also because institutions in the kingdom were increasingly the target of jihadist attacks as well, first by al-Qaeda and later ‘IS.'”

At the same time there are a number of religious foundations in the country, and some of these, as well as a number of wealthy individuals, have great sympathy for the aims of “IS” and provide the organization with financing. “Such money transactions are now being very closely monitored.” Yet, there is no way to exert total control over them. “Firstly, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the capacity to do so. And secondly, one has to say that there is serious doubt about whether they have the political will to do so.”

Nevertheless, even if the royal house had the will, it would be able to do little about it. Because the House of Saud, which has controlled the country since it was founded in the eighteenth century, is totally dependent upon the conservative Wahhabis. It is the religious movement that lends the Sauds the ideological legitimacy upon which their rule is based.

Alliance between religion and politics

The moral foundation for the rule of the Sauds was established by a religious scholar hailing from an area near what is now the capital Riyadh. Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, as the scholar was known, was born in 1703, the son of a judge.

Ibn Wahhab developed an entirely new criteria with which to judge the legitimacy of regional rulers. This legitimacy, he said, only existed as long as rulers abided by the tenets of religious faith. Political leaders, according to Wahhab, must comply to the will of god in all that they do. Should they fail to do so, they forfeit their legitimacy.

Thus, subjects were given a clear criteria with which to judge their rulers: Do their actions express the will of god, or not? It was a radically emancipating idea, yet it carried the seed of later abuses in it from the start: For who determines what god’s will is?

Ibn Wahhab came up with a unique solution to the problem: He directly tied religious power to political power. And he did so by seeking out an alliance with the most powerful partner of his day: Prince Saud l., ibn Abd al-Aziz ibn Muhammad al-Saud, the conquerer of the Emirate of Diriyah, the first Saudi state. The prince secured the theological power of his religious partner with his own military might. And in return, the legitimacy of his political rule received the scholar’s religious blessing.

The alliance between these two families, the ruling Sauds and the descendants of ibn-Wahhab responsible for answering all religious questions in the kingdom, has continued to hold until this day.

Unresolved dilemma

This alliance, by necessity, also determines the royal family’s current reaction to terror. “The royal family sees terrorism as an extreme security threat, but it still has to align itself with the Wahhabi scholars in terms of ideology,” says Sebastian Sons. This means that the monarchy is constantly forced to tolerate its – at times radical – world view. They rarely have the luxury of refusing to give their support. “The structure of the Saudi state is based upon the alliance between Wahhabi scholarship and the House of Saud. That is a unsolvable dilemma for the royal family, even today.”

That means that the rest of the world will have to live with the reality of more attacks being orchestrated from Saudi Arabia. As long as ideological extremism cannot be overcome, security measures can only help to a point.

Exclusive: Hillary Rubber-Stamped Visas for Record Number of Saudi Visitors

unnamedCounterJihad, by Paul Sperry, Aug. 8, 2016:

Despite evidence Saudi Arabian terrorists exploit the U.S. visa program, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doubled the number of visas for Saudi visitors to the U.S., while helping cut a deal with the Kingdom to waive security procedures for Saudi nationals upon their arrival in the U.S, CounterJihad has learned.

The annual number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Saudi nationals soared 93% during Clinton’s tenure as secretary from 2009 to 2013, federal data show, hitting a record 108,578 in fiscal 2013 and reversing a post-9/11 pause in Saudi visa approvals.

Before leaving office, Clinton helped negotiate a little-noticed January 2013 administration deal with Riyadh to allow Saudi visa-holders to enter the U.S. as “trusted travelers” and bypass the normal border security process. The next year, the State Department issued an all-time-high 142,180 Saudi visas, consular data show.

All told, the Obama administration has opened the floodgates to more than 709,000 Saudi nationals, most of whom applied for student or business visas, records show. It’s as if 9/11 never happened and 15 Saudi terrorists never infiltrated the country on rubber-stamped visas. The surge represents a major shift from changes in immigration policy made in the wake of 9/11, when the number of visas issued to Saudi Arabians plummeted 69.7%. In fiscal 2002, Saudi visas slowed to a relative trickle of just 14,126.

Saudi immigration was tightened after it was revealed that the State Department’s Visa Express program benefited some of the Saudi hijackers on 9/11. Less known is that two other al-Qaida-tied Saudi nationals visiting America on student visas also took advantage of the lax policy. It turns out these other young Saudi men made a “dry run” to test airline security ahead of the 9/11 hijackings.

According to the recently declassified 29 pages of the congressional joint inquiry report on 9/11, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi, both Saudi students living in the Phoenix area, tried several times to gain access to the cockpit of an America West flight while traveling to Washington to attend a party at the Saudi Embassy in 1999. Their airline tickets were paid for by the Saudi government, the documents reveal.

The FBI suspected al-Qudhaeein was a Saudi intelligence agent bankrolled by the Saudi Embassy, and agents subsequently received information that al-Shalawi trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and operated in the same circle with the Saudi hijacker who flew the plane into the Pentagon.

Coming into office in 2009, Clinton issued a cable warning diplomats that Saudi Arabia was still sponsoring al-Qaida terrorist operations.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida,” states a Wikileaked secret December 2009 memo signed by the then-secretary of state. Her memo urged U.S. diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Saudi money reaching terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” Clinton said.

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances, Saudi Arabia, FY1997-2014

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances, Saudi Arabia, FY1997-2014

In spite of her own warnings about continued Saudi-sponsored terrorism, however, she and President Obama quietly struck a deal to fast-track more Saudi students for U.S. entry during a series of high-level meetings in January 2013 with the Saudi interior minister, who had complained about delays in the security screening process and lobbied for more student visas.

Clinton, whose family foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabian donors, can be seen here meeting at her State Department office with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz on the same day — Jan. 16, 2013 — that Prince Mohammed signed an agreement to join America’s trusted traveler program known as Global Entry.

As a member of the trusted traveler program, the U.S. now trusts Saudi Arabians as much as it does Canadians, who as longtime program members are considered low-risk travelers and pre-approved for entry, and more so than Germans or French, who aren’t included in the program. Thanks to the Obama administration, Saudi visitors now enjoy expedited security clearance. They bypass the normal Customs screening and proceed to Global Entry kiosks, where they receive a transaction receipt that directs them to baggage claim and exit.

In other words, Saudi visitors now go to the front of the line and skip normal Homeland Security inspections. And federal authorities now share background checking and other pre-screening duties with the Saudis.

The trusted traveler program kicks the door open to thousands of young Saudi men who will be able to stay legally in the U.S. for five years on student and vocational visas. And they won’t be monitored while they’re here. The feds stopped tracking their stays here several years ago after the Saudi embassy, along with the terrorist front group Council on American-Islamic Relations, protested to the White House and State Department.

That means terrorists among the new Saudi entrants can enter the U.S. and continue to test flight security or plot attacks while pretending to go to college. Authorities now have no idea if a Saudi national entering on a student visa actually reported to campus.

“Why would we trust them?” 9/11 survivor Sharon Premoli demanded in an interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Indeed, several Saudi visa-holders have been busted plotting terrorism or testing airline security in recent years. For example:

  • In 2013, a young Saudi immigrant living in Oregon on an expired visa was arrested for conducting a suspected dry run during a Continental Airlines flight bound for Houston. He screamed “Allah Akbar” while trying to light something in the plane’s cabin.
  • In 2011, a Saudi student was arrested on charges of plotting to bomb the Texas home of former President George W. Bush.

The Saudis can also use their vocational visas to enroll in U.S. flight schools as the hijackers did.

A recent study by the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies found that three of the five top M-1 approved schools in the U.S. are flight schools. It also found that thousands of Saudis have arrived here on M-1 visas since Clinton loosened visa restrictions for travelers from the Kingdom.

Authorities are having a hard enough time dealing with all the homegrown terrorists cropping up. The FBI has more than 1,000 terrorism cases open on ISIS suspects in all 50 states. Agents don’t need new waves of young Muslim men from Saudi Arabia to worry about tracking, as well.

By dumping potentially thousands more Saudi extremists into the homeland security system, the administration is worsening the odds that law enforcement can catch terrorists before they strike.

Bill Clinton Got Millions From World’s Biggest Sharia Law Education Firm

Bill Clinton gives a thumbs up to attendees on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention (Getty Images)

Bill Clinton gives a thumbs up to attendees on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention (Getty Images)

Daily Caller, by Richard Pollock, Aug. 3, 2016:

Former President Bill Clinton collected $5.6 million in fees from GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company that teaches Sharia Law through its network of more than 100 schools in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

The company’s finances strictly adhere to “Sharia Finance,” which includes giving “zakat,” a religious tax of which one-eighth of the proceeds is dedicated to funding Islamic jihad.

The company also contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

The former president served as honorary chairman for GEMS Education from 2011 to 2014, according to federal tax returns he filed with his wife, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

His biggest paycheck from the closely-held company — which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands — was in 2014 when he pocketed $2.1 million. It is unclear if Bill received income from the Middle Eastern firm in 2015, since Hillary has not yet released her tax return for that year.

Sharia law is the Islamic religious legal system that many in the West see as intolerant of human rights and other religions, as well as violating the rights of women and gays. Sharia law is considered by Muslims to be superior to all secular authorities. Islamic jihadis regularly call for the imposition of Sharia law and want to impose it on the West.

GEMS boasted in a 2013 bond prospectus that it is the “only foreign group approved for educational services in Saudi Arabia.” The GEMS facilities in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, taught 1,600 students in 2013.

Saudi Arabia is where Wahabism, the strictest form of Sharia, is observed. The Middle Eastern kingdom bars women from driving cars, requires women to wear the strictest form of the hijab, which covers everything but the eyes and hands. Gay men and women are persecuted in Saudi Arabia.

GEMS distributed a job notice in 2014 for a director of “Islamic and Cultural Studies” for its campuses in the Saudi Kingdom. The skills for the position included proficiency in Sharia to help develop a curriculum. The company also acts as an educational consultant in Egypt, Jordan, and Libya.

Clinton’s relationship with the Sharia-oriented education firm drew critical reviews from anti-terrorism experts.

“Why would Bill Clinton be participating in programs that teach Sharia in foreign countries where that is the specific objective of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaeda,” asked counter-terror analyst Stephen Coughlin in an interview with TheDCNF.

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