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Context of 'November 26, 2002: Secret List of Saudi Terror Financiers Is Revealed'

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During the daily press “gaggle,” Ari Fleischer acknowledges there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 attacks. A reporter asks if there is “still no evidence of a connection between Iraq and 9/11?” to which Fleischer responds, “That’s correct.” (White House 9/26/2002)

During his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that oil is a motivating factor behind the drive for war with Iraq. He says, “It is not a factor. This is about preserving the peace and saving the lives of Americans.” (White House 10/9/2002; Burger 10/10/2002; Moran and Johnson 11/7/2002)

In the wake of news that two Saudis living in San Diego, California, may have helped two of the 9/11 hijackers, reports surface that the US has a secret, short list of wealthy individuals who are the alleged key financiers of al-Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups. The Washington Post claims there are nine names on the list: seven Saudis, plus one Egyptian, and one Pakistani. (Farah 11/26/2002) ABC News claims the list consists of 12 names, all Saudis, and says they were financing al-Qaeda through accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland, and Malaysia, among other countries. (ABC News 11/25/2002) They also claim the Saudi government has a copy of the list. US officials privately say all the people listed have close personal and business ties with the Saudi royal family. (ABC News 11/26/2002) A secret report by French investigator Jean-Charles Brisard names seven prominent Saudi financiers of terror; the number matches the seven Saudis mentioned in the Washington Post article, though it’s not known if all the names are the same. The Saudis mentioned by Brisard include Yassin al-Qadi, Adel Batterjee, and Wael Hamza Julaidan (who has had his assets frozen by the US.) (US Department of State 9/6/2002) Brisard says al-Qaeda has received between $300 million and $500 million over the last ten years from wealthy businessmen and bankers. He claims that the combined fortunes of these men equal about 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP (gross domestic product). (Brisard 12/19/2002 pdf file; Rottela 12/24/2002) However, Brisard’s study has been mistakenly described as a United Nations report. While he submitted the study to the UN, the UN didn’t request it. (Ruehsen 10/2003) It is also reported that a National Security Council task force recommends that the US demand that Saudi Arabia crack down on al-Qaeda’s financiers within 90 days of receiving evidence of misdeeds and if they do not, the US should take unilateral action to bring the suspects to justice. However, the US government denies this report and calls Saudi Arabia a “good partner in the war on terrorism.” (Farah 11/26/2002) Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says: “I think the fact that many of the hijackers came from that nation [Saudi Arabia] cannot and should not be read as an indictment of the country.” (Tully 11/27/2002)

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer asserts during his daily press briefing, “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.” (White House 1/9/2003)

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “… make no mistake—as I said earlier—we have high confidence that [the Iraqis] have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found.” (White House 4/10/2003)


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