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October 18, 2003
Saudis may be feeling the crosshairs

Recent public statements seem to indicate that the Saudis may increasingly be specifically targeted in the war on terror, as the FBI starts talking about the Saudis more as suspects than allies:

John Pistole, assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, told a Senate hearing recently that the bureau has raised concerns with the Saudi government that paying legal bills and bond for Saudis being questioned in the terror probe could influence their testimony.

``To us, that is tantamount to buying off a witness, if you will. So that gives us concern if the government is supplying money for defense counsel,'' Pistole said.

A year ago, this probably would have been buried ... the fact that the FBI has started talking about this tells me that the Saudis aren't cooperating as much as the government would like. If more stories such as this start popping up in the news, it will mean something very significant. Now that we can use Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq as military staging points, the radical Wahhabi Saudi government becomes less critical to our success and more of a liability, especially since Wahhabism is at the root of al-Qaeda political philosophy. The Saudis may already have gotten the message, and the announcement earlier this week of free local elections may be meant to keep them in play with Washington.

UPDATE: There's also this story connecting terror funds to Saudis (via Instapundit):

The probe of the Herndon groups is the largest federal investigation of terrorism financing in the world, authorities have said. And the unsealing of Kane's report marks the first time the government has alleged the main purpose of the Virginia organizations, set up primarily with donations from a wealthy Saudi family, was to fund terrorism and hide millions of dollars.

I'm sensing a bit of a sea change ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 18, 2003 10:52 AM

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