Had to share this one, if only because some of the commentariat will remember the David Levine cartoon it references. Here’s the NYTimes‘s mealy-mouthed version, for reference purposes:
During the 1980s and ’90s, the historic alliance between the wealthy monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the country’s powerful clerics emerged as the major financier of international jihad, channeling tens of millions of dollars to Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and elsewhere. Among the project’s major patrons was Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who last month became Saudi Arabia’s king.
Some of those fighters later formed Al Qaeda, which declared war on the United States and later mounted major attacks inside Saudi Arabia as well. In the past decade, according to officials of both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, the Saudi government has become a valuable partner against terrorism, battling Al Qaeda at home and last year joining the American-led coalition against the extremists of the Islamic State.
Yet Saudi Arabia continues to be haunted by what some suspect was a tacit alliance with Al Qaeda in the years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those suspicions burst out in the open again this week with the disclosure of a prison deposition of a former Qaeda operative, Zacarias Moussaoui, who claimed that more than a dozen prominent Saudi figures were donors to the terror group and that a Saudi diplomat in Washington discussed with him a plot to shoot down Air Force One.
Saudi officials have staunchly denied those claims, noting that Mr. Moussaoui was a convicted terrorist with a history of mental troubles and little to lose by spreading lies about Saudi officials. On Wednesday, experts on the kingdom also expressed strong doubts about Mr. Moussaoui’s claims…
But Mr. Moussaoui’s sensational allegations have drawn attention in part because far more credible figures, including some members of the national 9/11 Commission, believe the Saudi role in the attacks has never been adequately examined. More broadly, the episode has drawn new attention to Saudi Arabia’s longtime policy of using its oil wealth to try to shape foreign battlefields, currently by backing militants in Syria and Libya, and the reactionary religious ideology that underlies its society.
Throughout the 1980s, Saudi Arabia and the United States were partners in bankrolling the mujahedeen, hailed as freedom fighters by President Ronald Reagan, who were battling the Soviet military in Afghanistan…
Yeah, the Saudi monarchs figured they could “control” the mujahedeen, just like Reagan’s handlers figured they could “control” the contras they were bankrolling. Of course, the only Very Serious American who paid any price for our hemispheric meddling was Bill Casey, if you believe the rumors, since Oliver North has been more than well compensated for his briefly unpleasant role in the aftermath. Presumably the Saudi family members & retainers who got close enough to Osama bin Laden to be tainted are, shall we say, aging out of the public spotlight — everything goes to shit at home, they’ve got safe havens well away from the reach of a bunch of low-rent Wahhabi wannabes.