The Saudi roots of ISIS and the 9/11 attacks

It is impossible for the United States armed forces to put an end to Islamic jihadist terrorism.

That is because Al Qaeda, ISIS and their ilk have their roots in a country that is off limits to American military action.

In the same of fighting terrorism, the United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, helped overthrow the government of Libya, is working to overthrow the government of Syria and has imposed sanctions on Iran.

President Obama visits Saudi Arabia in March

President Obama visits Saudi Arabia in March

Yet the U.S. government does not touch Saudi Arabia.   Osama bin Laden was a Saudi and so were most of the 9/11 hijackers.  Sections of a Senate report that allegedly implicate elements of the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks have been blacked out and declared as classified information.

The Saudi government, along with Qatar and other Gulf sheikdoms, provided the funding for ISIS and the other radical jihadist groups now fighting  in Syria and Iraq.  All these groups are adherents of Wahhabism, the most radical and intolerant Islamic sect, which is based in Saudi Arabia and supported by the Saudi government.

Why would the U.S. government, through Republican and Democratic administrations, tolerate such a situation?

The U.S. “deep state”—the permanent part of the government that is untouched by elections—is committed to protecting Saudi Arabia in return for Saudi help in regulating oil prices and oil supply.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s richest countries, and one of its weakest.  The sparse Saudi population is incapable of defending the country against stronger nations such as Iraq or Iran.  But none of those nations dare attack Saudi Arabia so long as the nation is under the protection of the U.S. military.

The problem is that the source of the Saudi monarchy’s power, the force that enabled the House of Saud to conquer the Arabia peninsula in the first place, is the support of the Wahhabi movement, a highly strict Muslim sect which regards all other Muslims as untrue to the faith.

Wahhabi teachings are incompatible with the self-indulgent lives of many rich Arabs, including some of the members of the Saudi royal family, so the Saudis buy them off by subsidizing Wahhabi schools throughout the Muslim world, and supporting Wahhabi jihads, which, conveniently, are usually against nations such as Iran, Syria or the Shiite government of Iraq that are rivals to Saudi power.

The CIA on occasion found them useful tools as, for example, the overthrow of Qaddafi’s regime in Libya and the ongoing fight against the Assad regime in Syria.


President Bush receives a Saudi delegation

The Saudis meanwhile have close ties with American politicians and business executives.  Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, was a leading light on the Washington social scene.  He was so close to the Bush family that his nickname was Bandar Bush.

Matt Stoller wrote an excellent article about this for the Medium news site.  He pointed out that the Saudi monarchy is not a unified government, but consists of different factions with different aims.  The Saudi leaders have to be concerned with keeping a balance of power between the different factions and are not in a position to act decisively against any one of them.

The same is true of the government of Pakistan, which he didn’t mention.  Evidently there are factions in Pakistan’s government that are pro-Taliban, factions that are anti-Taliban and factions that think the Taliban is useful in fighting proxy wars against India.

Such a balance of power cannot be maintained forever.  Sooner or later there will have to be a showdown the Saudi monarchy and radical jihadist fanatics. which the monarchy may not win.

Last week the top Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa condemning ISIS and calling for public executions of its members.  Saudi Arabia has staged public executions of ISIS members.  That’s a welcome change.  I wish I knew enough to judge whether the change is permanent and whether the crackdown applies to top people in the Saudi power structure.

I must confess I don’t know what to do to prevent a jihadist takeover of Saudi Arabia, or what to do when and if it happens.  But if we Americans can bring our covert foreign policy out into the open, and discuss what to do, we at least will not be taken by surprise.

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees free speech to all Americans.   Article One, Section 6, says Senators and Representatives cannot be called to account outside of Congress for anything they say on the floor of Congress.   It is high time they exercise these rights and powers.


The Solution to ISIS Is the First Amendment by Matt Stoller for Medium.

Stoller gives more background on Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks and Saudi influence in Washington.  This is an excellent article which I strongly recommend.

A Void in the History of September 11 by Lawrence Wright for The New Yorker.

Wright reports on the blacked-out 28 pages in the Senate report on the 9/11 attacks, and what they may contain.

‘Thank God for the Saudis’: ISIS, Iraq and the Lessons of Blowback by Steve Clemons for The Atlantic.

Last year Senator John McCain and others praised the Saudi government for financing Syrian rebels.  Now many of these rebels have enlisted in ISIS.

Who’s Your Daddy, ISIS? by Glen Ford for the Black Agenda Report.

Every member of the anti-ISIS coalition, including Britain, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, helped fund or arm ISIS’s predecessor organizations.

Clerics’ edict condemns terrorism by the Irish Independent.

Saudi Arabia’s top religious authorities have condemned ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.  For what it’s worth.

ISIS’s Enemies List: 10 Reasons the Islamic State is Doomed by Kurt Eichenwald for Newsweek.

ISIS is the enemy of every government, every religious sect (including fellow Sunni Muslims) and even every rival terrorist group.  Eichenwald writes that the only for ISIS is U.S. intervention, which would, in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims, make ISIS the lesser evil.

Nothing will stop ISIS except a Syrian truce by Patrick Cockburn for The Independent (via The Unz Review).  [Added 9/23/14]

The governments in the U.S.-backed coalition are, at best, lukewarm opponents of ISIS.  Iran and Syria are the two governments most committed to fighting ISIS, and they in no way threaten the United States.  So why promote civil war in Syria and continue sanctions against Iran?

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2 Responses to “The Saudi roots of ISIS and the 9/11 attacks”

  1. williambearcat Says:

    Our actions in the Middle East are based on the idea that this area is govern by nations or countries. Our vocabulary is limited by the concepts of nation and country. The Middle East is for the most part governed by tribes. That is why we can’t figure out what to do with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Not sure about the other so-called countries that were created out of whole cloth. At times these countries are headed by a dictator who does terrible things, not to his countrymen for no such group exists, but to controlling and subduing other tribes. We didn’t see the Iraqi people pull down the statue of Saddam Husein but tribal reactionm.


  2. philebersole Says:

    Modern dictatorships try to stifle any independent civic organizations among their subjects. Everything has to come from the government and the supreme leader. But the two things a dictator cannot entirely suppress are (1) religion and (2) language and ethnic identity.

    So it is not surprising that the more oppressive the regime, the stronger the sense of religion and ethnicity.

    And it is also not surprising that the more oppressive the regime, the more intolerant and militant the religious opposition.

    The United States government has, during the past 60 or so years, a record of subverting democratic movements in the Middle East and, during the past 25 or so years, a record of attacking Middle East nations and reducing them to chaos.

    I don’t think that I, as an American, have standing to criticize people in the Middle East for lack of democracy or lack of stable government.

    I’m not enough of a scholar to make sweeping statements about the culture of the Middle East. I do know that there was a time in history when some of the groups that are now at each others’ throats lived together in peace.

    Maybe, if left to themselves, the people of the Middle East would not do any better than they are now. I don’t claim to know, one way or the other. I do think the experiment (of not invading their countries and subverting their governments) is worth making

    Liked by 1 person

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