The United States is in mortal period from a false friend: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The peril emanates from the totalitarian legal-religious-military-political code the Saudis call Shariah and their assiduous efforts to impose it worldwide. The danger is enormously exacerbated by the almost-complete failure of American officials at every level of government to acknowledge, let alone act to prevent, the Saudis' true agenda.
Three examples are instructive:
A recent expose by New York Times reporter Philip Shenon of congressional and independent investigations of the murderous Sept. 11, 2001, attacks describes evidence of financial, logistical and other material support by Saudi government personnel to the perpetrators of those acts of terrorism. In "The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation," Mr. Shenon suggests the Bush White House, the FBI and, not least, Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar went to considerable lengths to suppress such evidence.
In the end, what is known is principally circumstantial - notably, a seeming Saudi covert operative in Southern California housed and facilitated the movements of two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, was in frequent communication with a Wahhabi cleric working in the United States under Saudi diplomatic cover and received before the attacks funds drawn on an account Prince Bandar's wife used to support "charities." It nonetheless seems reasonable to conclude that, had these leads been scrupulously pursued rather than covered up, we would have a far better appreciation of the enmity felt toward this country by all too many of our so-called Saudi "friends" and "allies."
What is more, in a lawsuit brought by the insurance companies who paid out more than $5 billion dollars to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, lawyers from the Philadelphia-based firm of Cozen O'Connor are uncovering details of Saudi government involvement in financing "foreign" jihad to keep it out of the Kingdom. Not surprisingly, they have uncovered connections missed by the Sept. 11 Commission.
That enmity can unmistakably be found in textbooks the government of Saudi Arabia supplies religious schools (known as "madrassas") around the world, including the Islamic Saudi Academy it operates in Alexandria, Va. Last week, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) revealed these texts encourage children to regard non-Muslims and even other Muslims with hostility and hatred and suggests it is permissible to take "their blood and treasure." Jihad is described as "the pinnacle of Islam," without clarifying the term's meaning to be just a struggle of the spirit - rather than its typical interpretation: holy war.
Importantly, the USCIRF found itself thwarted at every turn by the U.S. State Department. Foggy Bottom endlessly ran interference for the Saudis: State blithely assured the commission that Saudi Arabia had promised to rewrite its teaching materials to eliminate offensive passages. It half-heartedly pressed Riyadh for copies of the textbooks actually used at the Academy, then withheld from the USCIRF the books it did receive.
The proof now in hand, no thanks to the State Department, makes clear the virulently intolerant nature of what the Saudis insist is the authoritative form of Islamic law or Shariah. It should be sufficient grounds for acting on an earlier recommendation by the International Religious Freedom Commission: Close the Saudi Embassy-run madrassa in our midst, once and for all.
That outcome will be the demand of community activists, champions of religious freedom and national security professionals who will be demonstrating at the Islamic Saudi Academy's Alexandria campus at 8 a.m. this morning. They are protesting a decision taken a fortnight ago by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to renew a county-held lease on this facility - a decision that was shameful and irresponsible then, and that is, in the wake of the IRFC findings, utterly untenable now.
Even the Saudis' reported, new-found willingness to increase oil production by half-a-million barrels per day should not be confused with acts of friendship. After all, twice in recent months King Abdullah contemptuously rebuffed pleas from President Bush for just such relief from the damage caused by soaring petroleum prices. Only when that damage appeared likely to trigger a renewed U.S. determination finally to end America's "addiction to oil" have the Saudis seen any need to bring down prices at the pump.
Fortunately, the latest Saudi gambit may be too little, too late to perpetuate our present enslavement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Saudi-led oil cartel that has been waging economic warfare against the United States for decades and lately with increasingly devastating effects. Thanks to the likes of Robert Zubrin, author of the highly acclaimed "Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil," Fox New's popular prime-time host Bill O'Reilly and a growing number of legislators, the American people are awakening to the fact we have an alternative: Flexible Fuel Vehicles - cars that at a nominal cost can use existing technology to run on alcohol-based fuels (such as ethanol, methanol or butanol), gasoline or some combination thereof. (More information about these "Freedom Fuels" and the Open Fuel Standard that will allow them to help end the dangerous tyranny of Saudi Arabia and OPEC is at www.SetAmericaFree.org.)
As the Saudis are not actually our friends, they will do everything possible to prevent such a development - just as they have assiduously sought to suppress information about other aspects of the seditious, totalitarian agenda they call Shariah agenda. We can no longer pretend that Saudi efforts to impose that agenda, here as well as abroad, are consistent with our national security and other interests. And we can no longer tolerate actions by those in the U.S. government aimed at obscuring such behavior, when the practical effect of doing so is to enable it to advance our destruction.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.